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Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/16/2017 7:33 PM

OK - so before everyone jumps in and tells me how to put bleach down the well, that's NOT what I'm asking about.

I'm trying to figure out if there is a way to disinfect it WITHOUT DIGGING IT UP.

It's a drilled well, 160ft deep.

What I know about it's location is, that it's "under the front steps".

The pipe that comes into the basement is about 5ft below grade.

I don't know the well head depth below grade.

I don't know the exact location.

It was installed in 1985, and the house was not built yet. (there's no reference location from the house other than "under the steps" as told by the previous owner...I have to try to find him too...he's not a friendly guy)

I don't know if it's in a cement casing or if they buried the bare well head.

So anyone ever tried to disinfect a well without being able to open the well head?

Any suggestions about how to find it's location without digging down to the feed pipe and following it to the well? That's how I would do it, but the wife seems to think there's an easier way..."just pull a couple of boards up from the steps and dig down to it." ..."Rent a metal detector and push it under the steps."

Digging is easy for me since I have a backhoe...it's tearing up the front yard, flower beds, bushes, steps, that I'm not really willing to get into.

I may have to call a well company and ask them to come out and explain it to the wife. I do know the company that installed in 1985...I'll check to see if they are still around.

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#1

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/16/2017 8:10 PM

Well I guess you could just turn everything off, isolate the well and pump chlorine down there and let it sit for a while.....but that doesn't adhere to recommended practice....and I'm of a mind that if you're going to do something, do it right the first time....perhaps once you have located and exposed the well head, you might be able to add some easier access for future cleanings....

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/disinfection.pdf

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/16/2017 9:10 PM

We're thinking the same thing. The damn pump is 30+ years old! Probably dig it up and extend the well head to near the surface, put a cement casing around it with a cement cap. Document the exact location for the next guy!

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#3

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/16/2017 9:59 PM

It does seem strange to have a well head buried and located so poorly. However, it is done so we should consider if the well is completed with a well seal (google it for a description) and if it is, there should be a vent line. 1985 suggests that the line is likely a 1/2 poly line. If it comes into the basement great. If not look around the outside of the house to see if there is a vent line in line with the pumping system. Sometimes on the side of the house. If you locate the line, turn the pump on to create a maximum drawdown in the well. That will create a suction on the vent line; whereby, you can hold up a pail of disinfectant and allow it to be sucked directly into the well. Leave the pump on until you smell the bleach in the running taps.

Failure to find a vent means you will be forced to dig to access the top of the well. Consider correcting the situation with ready access such as a sealed well pit. Hope it works out with the vent and that you can create a drawdown with ample suction.

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#4

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/16/2017 10:17 PM

I think this is a classic case where layman's terminology can lead to dangerous misunderstandings.

Your desire is not to disinfect a well but to disinfect the subterranean water raised through a well. If your only concern is biological bacteria and protozoan contamination then a UV sanitizer followed by a particulate filter may be sufficient. If your problem actually lies in the non-biological contaminants dissolved in this water (Radon, salt, Arsenic, Chromium, Phosphates, etc.) then a whole gamut of easy to difficult sanitizing approaches can be performed, if they can be performed at all.

Water purity for potability is nothing to "play" with. Get a certified sample analysis and start from there. What works for me on LINY may not meet your local standards.

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/16/2017 10:28 PM

We had it tested. They recommend we sanitize it.

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#17
In reply to #6

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/18/2017 12:11 AM

"We had it tested."

OK, what did the test find?

"They recommend we sanitize it."

What did they mean by sanitize?

I don't know where you live, but is there any possibility of finding any prints or records regarding your well?About 3 years ago I was able to retrieve a print from the early 70's showing the location of an abandoned buried and and related piping.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/18/2017 3:23 PM

I think I explained the problem in the first post.

I know who installed it.

I know when it was installed.

I know how deep it is.

I know what type of pump is there.

It was installed before the house was built...no reference to the location from the house exists, except a comment from the previous owner..."Under the front steps."

Testing showed borderline contamination of e coli...it's on the line between acceptable and unacceptable...recommended solution is to disinfect with bleach solution. I've done this successfully in the past...just need to find the well.

Installer is coming next week to use metal detector and pipe locator.

We will open the well, disinfect, place a "casing" around the well head to make it more accessible in the future, as we plan to have the pump replaced.

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#19
In reply to #6

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/19/2017 3:13 AM

<...They...>?

In the UK, private water supplies are regulated by the Local Authority. Usually a 5-year interval is recommended for testing and a recommendation list comes out as a result.

Most private water supplies can be sanitised by installing a simple whole-house cartridge depth filter followed by an ultraviolet lamp on the pipe upstream of the branches feeding those routes within the building that are supplying water for eating/drinking.

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#5

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/16/2017 10:22 PM

Given the relatively modern age of it it more than likely set up with a pitless adapter system which means that it's highly unlikely the wellhead is actually underneath the ground.

More than likely it's just a foot or so above it (metal mushroom cap sort of thing) and why it can sit under the steps or whatever.

Also being a 160 foot well if it's using a modern submersible pump you wont get anything to flow backward down the supply line due to the the check valve the electric pump down in the well will have on top of it and likely, if installed correctly, the second one at the surface just under the pitless adapter or just outside of it under the ground.

As for disinfecting the well i do that 1 - 2 times a year or so and I just dump 3 - 4 cups of bleach in a 5 gallon bucket of water and dump that down my well followed by several more to flush the well casing clean.

After that it's just a matter of letting the nearest discharge point, like a outdoor hydrant, run at full flow until the bleached water starts to show up.

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/16/2017 10:33 PM

Luckily I have the original bill of materials for the install. There is a pitless adapter listed so I'm thinking you may be right and the actual top may be just under the surface a bit. Still a pain to move the steps but I did design them so I can move them...with a bit of work. So that's the next project!

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/16/2017 11:55 PM

I'm curious as to what was in the location when it was drilled being the typical codes everywhere require a good 10 - 12 or more foot spacing be kept between any existing structures or any likely to be built just for incase the well ever has to be worked on again because that's the minimal space a well workover rig needs for setting up.

Also the fact that the actual wellhead pitless adapter casing and cover are possibly buried has me wondering too. As I understand it most codes require that to be above ground by so many inches just to prevent surface water from ever finding its way back down the well and contaminating it.

Buried under ground and under your steps just screams some things may not be up to code here and that's coming from the guy who lives out in the country where all applicable codes I have to follow could be written on a napkin with a blunt marker.

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#11
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Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/17/2017 7:51 AM

The previous owner had a mobile home on the site when the well was installed. The house and steps were built several years after that while they lived in the mobile home. I rebuilt the steps as I was maintain things. I should have dug around and located the damn well then! We have the same napkins for writing codes here.

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#27
In reply to #11

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/19/2017 11:01 AM

But are they sanitary napkins?

You are probably on the verge of finding a corroded, rotted well head/casing. Good luck with that pulling unit!

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#29
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Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/19/2017 11:33 AM

It's possible it's corroded but it's also possible that there is something around the head to protect it. The previous owner/builder was a contractor and he tended to "do things right". One of the reasons I purchased the house in an unfinished state...all quality materials, to the point that he bankrupted his own company! There were leans on the property from two building supply companies...I have all the receipts so I know exactly what he bought!

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#9

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/17/2017 1:17 AM

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#10

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/17/2017 3:27 AM

I think we are going to want pictures when you get round to it.
Good luck.
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#12
In reply to #10

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/17/2017 7:52 AM

I'll get some as I proceed...could be a "learning experience".

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#13

Re: Buried well head - need to disinfect.

06/17/2017 7:54 AM

The current plan is to take a sharpened steel rod, and see if I can locate the well head by "feel". Stay tuned...

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#14

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/17/2017 4:57 PM

A submersible pump needs electricity. Unless you're off the grid, you've got electrical service and maybe gas?

Every state has an agency/organization that asks you to 'call before you dig' so they can check for buried utilities. You've got a backhoe, you're gonna dig, aren't you entitled to call that state agency/organization and ask them to check for buried utilities and maybe they can detect the electric lines.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/17/2017 6:07 PM

I've contacted the original installer and his brother has a real good metal detector as well as a good pipe locator...I'll be giving him a call on Monday. I did poke around with a metal rod but only found lots of rocks. Really need to locate the pipe before we can determine where to look for the well head. I think I've got this one almost solved. Thanks for all the suggestions...pictures will still be added here later.

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#16

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/17/2017 10:29 PM

Did you pull a copy of the well permit?

It should contain the drilling company,

Pump installation company,

Pump type and depth,

Well location and depth,

As well as other information.

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#20

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 5:32 AM

Sanitising the well sounds like a waste of time!!! If it's e-coli, then sanitising the well will only sanitise the water in the well now, but the aquifer will not be sanitised by that process. For e-coli you need to treat the water coming from the well. For a well that deep to show e-coli would seem uncommon. Maybe the sample collection and handling process was the contamination source. For instance if the sample container had been used to bail surface water, or if a snail or slug had been on the tap, or a cat or dog had licked the tap .......... Might be really worthwhile having another test, using a properly sterilised collection container after running the tap for 15 minutes or so. If you do have e-coli, then this indicates surface water intrusion andthus possible other contaminants.

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 5:43 AM

If it were viable E-coli, then ultraviolet irradiation would render them non-viable, and therefore harmless.

UV lamp assemblies for domestic use are readily available commercially (been there, done it, secondhand T-shirt now on eBay - usual disclaimer).

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#22
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 7:29 AM

I don't buy the E-Coli concern nonsense most of the time being there are multiple strains of it and most are harmless to even being social being we have it in our own digestive systems and on our skin as is.

Saying "they found E-coli' in something" is like saying they found people at a mall. So what? The vast majority are harmless loiterers or the people who work there at best and zero threat to anything.

Too much of the world thinks everything is bad when it's not plus that we are all babies and the very old or have near zero functioning immune systems. It's all what-if scaremongering tactics to make people worry a lot about nothing which profits others who are the real problem.

When I hear "they found E-coli" the first thing I think is, Well, is it a dangerous strain or a normal random harmless one? Odds are it's one of the harmless ones being naturally occurring E-coli is as common as dirt and already in, on and around us on most everything as is.

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#23
In reply to #20

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 7:37 AM

We know where the contamination came from and that's being addressed too.

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#26
In reply to #20

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 10:50 AM

Most of what you say is possible but sanitizing the well is never a waste of time. Since the well has a buried well head, it is most likely contamination of the well is entering from the well head during periods of heavy rainfall or runoff. It is also possible that the well has not been cased and grouted properly and contamination could enter through the annular space and bottom of the cased portion of the well. It is likely the well has only a regulation length of casing into the bedrock and is open hole to the 160 feet. We do not know the length of casing nor what depth(s) water enters the well.

A well should be visualized as a bio-amplifier of the underlying aquifer. The well provides a surface area for all sorts or a consortium of biological activity. The pumping action serves as a transportation of the aquifer's trace nutrients to the well. Thus the colonization of a well is always likely and can lead to many issues. The colonization is referred to as biofilm and can lead to biofouling when problems emerge. The problems can exist as simple hydrogen sulfide or even methane. But ever more release of metals from the geological formation are possible and these could include lead and arsenic as well as iron or manganese. A well needs periodic disinfection or sanitizing to control the biofilm that will build up in most wells. And that would include all wells whether they show a coliform count or not. Tcmtech is correct in sanitizing his well twice a year and I suggest every well should be so maintained. In Tom's case, the well head is buried and access needs to be provided so a routine of maintenance can be undertaken.

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#28
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 11:29 AM

Thanks - full agreement here!

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#32
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/20/2017 7:41 AM
  • Iron up to 50ppm is not a problem, however, the washing will never look white.
  • Managanese in larger than trace amounts will simply make one's teeth go black.
  • Lead can be precipitated by orthophosphate dosing, followed by filtration.
  • Don't go near arsenic.
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#33
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/20/2017 10:13 AM

There are arsenic removal technology, but these are not for the technically challenged or the uneducated masses, and are usually only found on middle to larger sized municipal systems where the source water does not meet environmental constraints for potable water supply.

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#34
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/20/2017 10:47 AM

I've installed reverse osmosis systems in residences. They work quite well to remove arsenic.

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#35
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/20/2017 12:33 PM

Yes, they do, with the following caveat: User needs to make sure and replace the Carbon filter on a strict schedule, and also the RO membrane if there are any product water quality issues or concerns. Otherwise, the arsenic could build up in the carbon filter until "overload" and start shedding (as in a big way), and if the salt rejection is the least bit compromised, then it will appear in product water as well.

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#24

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 9:26 AM

other then what already side,... I don't know what your flow rate capacity of the well,...

you don't have many options.

You could see if your can have the line traced using the feeder line. if you feeder line is big enough, and is a fairly straight shot to the well. (which 'normally' is)

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#25
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 10:17 AM

100 GPM.

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#30

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 12:02 PM

The first task is to actually locate the well (stem)...

It is possible that the original site was re-graded to (accommodate) a site for a trailer park, (or a single family dwelling, or other?) and thereby (slightly? ) covered up the original well head location...

Five feet is not particularly deep, for a well top, and may thereby be locatable by using a good metal detecter, like the ones Surveyors use to locate the vertical iron pipes that were set as property ''corners''...

Surveying Supplies Stores/Renters should carry quality detectors, if no one else lets you (borrow) theirs...

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/19/2017 1:19 PM

I think I've explained this.

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#36

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/21/2017 6:04 AM

If your contractor has "locator" capability, then they will have a transmitter matching their detector. With the pump turned off, you can usually slide the transmitter through the inside of your water delivery pipe and the locator can trace that as it is done. Whe you loose signal with additional length being fed in (or you loose signal) then that's probably the well head location where the transmitter is going "down the hole". Be careful when digging, there is power lead also involved.

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#37

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/23/2017 5:55 PM

Well Murphy's law was in effect. I removed the steps to be sure we had access when the "well guy" showed up. The well was NOT UNDER the steps...in front yes, but NOT UNDER!

So we're getting a new pump and new pipe down the well, and getting it sanitized after all that. He's also adding a foot or so of pipe so it will be above ground when he's done. I'll build something around it so we can plant some flowers on it.

Apparently the previous owner cut the well pipe so he could bury it. He used the original cap, which was not rated for burial. He just added a bunch of calk/sealer, which failed at some point, letting all sorts of nasty things in.

Here's the pic...

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#39
In reply to #37

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/26/2017 9:14 AM

Makes you want to discourage your dog from "hiking a leg" near that area. How will you move it off to the side, rather than be in the middle of your gravel path?

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#40
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/26/2017 10:47 AM

We've decided (the wife doesn't want to see it) to put a sealed cap on and keep it buried. That gravel is actually crushed stone and it's' not part of the walk. The walk will go to the well head and then take a hard right out to the drive.

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#41
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/26/2017 10:58 AM

Yes, that is certainly a good answer to your issue with potability of your well, and the cosmetic appearance of the property. Thumbs up!

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#42
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/26/2017 12:54 PM

You should make a pirate treasure map to show where it's buried for next time. Or get some stones in a contrasting colour and lay them out in a X to mark the spot... mind someone may think that old Fido is buried there instead...
Del

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#43
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/26/2017 1:32 PM

The plan is to put an 18" X 18" grey colored paver over the well. Should show up among the 12" x 12" red pavers ok!

I was going to make up a plaque that says " It's a deep subject!", but "she who must be obeyed" didn't like that.

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#44
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/26/2017 1:42 PM

Well?...

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#45
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/26/2017 2:08 PM

Tom: I hope you realize that there are very strict rules in most jurisdictions about burying a well head. You may want to check with Maine authorities for direction. Most wells are mandated to terminate above grade a specified minimum height. Well caps (for above grade use) on the top are now sealed to prevent the entry of vectors and vented to allow the well pump to work properly. A buried seal if allowed must include a complete sealed pit of some sort for access. All surface water must be excluded and prevented future access. A vent line would have to be installed and there is a port on the well seal to allow for venting. There exist small covers with gaskets that can be used to terminate the top. A concrete pit would be often used and the cover could be installed to integrate the top. Freezing of the water line could be an issue in winter if the pit is shallow. But you could still use your pitless adapter with a well seal.

I would advise you to check with authorities for such use. Alternatively, the well that is terminated above grade could be covered with something like a light house (that is what my wife did) and look just like it belonged in the garden and a much better alternative.

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#46
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/26/2017 6:52 PM

I'll rely on the expertise of the installer. I'll ask about the "rules"...if there are any here.

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#47
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/26/2017 10:57 PM

Not necessarily a good idea to rely on the installer.

Ultimately, whatever jurisdiction has authority will hold YOU as the owner of the property responsible, regardless of what anybody else says.

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#38

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/23/2017 7:30 PM

GA for updating us on the end result. That's such a rare event.

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#48

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/27/2017 6:48 AM

If you do cover with the 18" paver, then I suggest either a "time capsule" or else engrave the bottom of the paver with a schematic of the site. That way, whoever digs it up in future will find a welcome surprise. Or else they will think they have found a Masonic clue to some as yet undiscovered teasure.

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#49
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/27/2017 8:31 AM

Time capsule is a good idea! The location is already recorded on the home's paper work. I could put a "treasure map" in the time capsule...just to jerk the future owner around a bit.

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#50
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/27/2017 9:03 AM

Buy a silver coin or two from one of those TV ads, and bury it at "X" on the treasure map. I am sure the next owners will have a backhoe out there in no time flat.

(I know this is just mean, but sounds like fun watching from a fire).

S'mores and beer anyone?

I also think you need to check your local codes before you proceed with the installer's recommendations, he may be just taking the easy road.

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#51
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/27/2017 10:00 AM

I've reviewed the local codes and I can't find any regarding buried wellheads. The only local codes are in regard to locating wells from septic systems. I may still install a "road box" around the head just to be on the safe side.

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#52
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/27/2017 11:18 AM

Sounds like a sound practice and a wise decision. It needs to be easy for yourself and the next owners down the road to have the well worked over. Time is money, tempus fugit.

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#53

Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/29/2017 8:49 AM

Done! The pump and piping was replaced and a sealed cap was installed. I also put a "casing" around the wellhead and capped it with a paver. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of the wellhead before I covered everything up. Here's the end result.

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#54
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Re: Buried Well Head - Need to Disinfect

06/29/2017 9:11 AM

nice,...

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