Country Living Series

Friday, July 7, 2017

Well water woes

Well, it finally happened. Fourteen years after we were told our well pump only had five years left, the pump finally died (right in the middle of Don's shower, of course).


We got years of use out of this well pump. We have no complaints whatever about its lifespan. It was just, well, inconvenient to suddenly be without water.


The last time we were left high and dry was during the windstorm and four-day power outage we experienced in November 2015. After the windstorm, we put some additional emergency water preps in place -- and this was the first opportunity to test them. As it turns out, we were much better prepared. The three things that were different this time around was the issue of livestock water, showering, and watering the garden.

After the windstorm, we changed our water-storage ways. We moved two 50-gallon food-grade barrels into the washroom, added a bit of bleach, and left them there.


It was kind of inconvenient having these two honkin' big barrels of water in the washroom -- until we needed them, of course, after which we considered them to be a God-send. The stored water allowed us to flush the toilet and wash dishes without a problem.

We also had ten gallons (in one-gallon jugs) of fresher water stored on the bottom shelf of this unit. We used this for drinking water and had plenty.


The livestock had already been moved down to the neighboring pond property which we lease for a few months every year. As the name implies, the property has a stock pond, so we didn't have to worry about watering the livestock.


We had purchased a bilge pump last year which worked so well we purchased several spares. Don cobbled together a temporary system to pump water out of the pond and through a hose for watering the garden.



It was laborious but do-able. As it turns out, we didn't have to water too much of the garden since the pump was replaced within two days, but it was satisfying to take a theory (rigging up a garden-watering system) and turn it into proof.

Also, during the windstorm power outage in 2015, we had no way of showering. Shortly afterward, I purchased three solar shower bags. We stored them away but never used them until now. Following the directions, we filled them with water and laid them out in the sun.


Within a few hours, the water was satisfactorily warm.


Don rigged a hook in the ceiling of the shower, and hung a bag.



To be honest, I didn't have high expectations about these bags, but my goodness they worked beautifully. The hose nozzle allowed us to wet ourselves down with a minimum of water. In fact, Don and I both took showers off the same bag, and still had water left over (though admittedly I didn't wash my hair, which would have taken more water).

Within a couple of days, the well guys were able to make it to our place.


In the span of four hours, they pulled up 480 feet of pipe...



...and wire...


...and swapped out the old pump for a shiny new one.


Then they re-inserted all the pipe and wire and buttoned everything up.


Some people like to think preparedness is just for the end-of-the-world zombie apocalypse. Nonsense. When the power goes out, when the well pump dies, when you lose your job -- then having preps to fall back on is awfully nice.

We were glad for the chance to test our preps. We still have more to do on the water frontier, but we sure were better off than last time without water.

24 comments:

  1. Very interesting blog entry, Patrice. I think I might purchase a few of those solar showers for myself.

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  2. My pump brings up water that looks a little murky I think it is because of water agitation and iron in the soil, it has tested safe but with my Berkey I get clean drinking water. I would like to change the pipes, (think they are very old) and see if that does the trick. Thank goodness for that pond. I have creeks around me but at this point it will be the bucket brigade if needed. Good post on the importance of water, i also have water stored in water bottles I picked up at yard sales.

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  3. We have a bunch of rain water stored probably about 600 gal. It would have to be filtered to drink or use it to wash dishes but it is there. We also have a pond but I have never finished the hand pump installation for it so it would be buckets at this point. What ever happened to the 2000 gal tank that you had years ago?

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    1. We still have it but have a special place we want to put it. Hopefully we'll have it done before the snow flies.

      - Patrice

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  4. I have to agree with you on the ugly inconvenience of having water barrels in the bathroom. It doesn't fit into the photo shoot scene! Also, we, too, have used the shower bags. Yes! They work great. Ours have slightly weak handles. We wish we had reinforced them in the beginning. Now that they are a little torn, we don't know how to strengthen them. Does anyone out there have any ideas? DJ

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    Replies
    1. Yes, make a net bag to put them in to hang up. Lots of hits doing a search, here is one:
      http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Net-Shower-Bag/
      I hope DJ sees this.

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  5. back a few years ago when the kids were still at home, we would order pizza about once a week. one of the side orders was 2 two liter bottles of soda.
    I still have the majority of those bottles filled with water stashed in the basement.
    I also have 4 300 gallon IBC totes filled with harvested rain water. a pass thru a good berekly or my sawyer filter and we have plenty of drinking water.

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  6. As I learned long ago, hot running water DOES tend to spoil a person.

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  7. Our 4,000 gallon above-ground storage tank has been a blessing for us, time and again. You can live without a lot of things, but not water, and in summer it's critical. Our well pump died last summer, and thanks to our tank we were able to get by until we got the new one installed.

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  8. Thanks for the info on solar showers. I have seen them and read about them, but nice to know that you have actually used them and are pleased. Being in California, I am always worried about water!
    Sandra T.

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  9. We live in Florida, so we prep for a variety of reasons. We're on a well, so if the electricity goes out we have bottled water plus 2 fifty gallon barrels of water. We also have been storing food for several years. This came in handy when our daughter and grandkids had to move in with us last year. Becoming responsible preppers is one of the smartest things we've ever done. You just don't know what the future holds.

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  10. I had to do without water for 19 months until I could get the water line replaced from the road to the house. Hauling gallons of water was a pain and impossible to do now. I do have the shower but cannot lift it.

    I think I would rather do without electricity. There is no substitute for water.

    Is the pipe PEX?

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  11. "When the Well's dry, we know the Worth of Water." - Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1746

    Here in suburban Dallas we had a 330 gallon IBC tote filled with fresh water for emergencies. Bought one with a refurbished cage and a new bottle from the Cary company. Luckily never needed to fall back on that. Recently sold due to our upcoming move to a farm in Post Falls Idaho, where we have a new house going up. Despite there being a gravity fed spring and a seasonal creek, we have installed a rainwater catchment system with two 3000 gallon cisterns, which also capture any overflow from the spring. They say you can only live 3 days without water. I wouldn't want to test that theory. -Mark

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  12. What an awesome test of preps! Wow, you guys are savvy and great teachers. We learn so much from your blog. Thanks for sharing.
    Montana Guy

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  13. YAY!! The plans worked!! I LOVE it when the plans work!!

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  14. For my backup shower I use a one gallon pump up garden sprayer. It holds more than enough and doesn't depend on the sun, so I can shower any time. I heat water on the stove. Don't use boiling water unless you mix it with cold, be careful not to burn yourself.

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  15. Really interesting 'prep test' here! I have 2 shower bags that I've never thought about testing in the shower, because I figured I'd hang it on the shower head. Now I have to get them out, and see what works and what doesn't! Thanks alot!! LOL

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  16. Patrice, I don't mean to be rude in asking, but we are soon to be changing our pump. I am wondering if you would mind sharing the cost to do such a major undertaking. I know it depends on several factors,such as well depth and choice of pumps, but I am worried about the cost. We don't live far from your area. I completely understand if you choose not to. Just hoping to get an idea of how much we have to have saved before this project. Trying not to put it on the 'card'. Thank you,

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    1. -Pump about $1400 (please note, this was a deep-water pump)
      -Installation about $1000 (this included a couple of new lengths of pipe and a control box)

      The price of pumps drops dramatically if your well is shallow. Our well is 610 feet deep with a static water level of about 400 (it used to be about 480 feet but it’s come up). Shallower pumps might be half the cost we paid.

      - Patrice

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  17. Do you have a good (back-up) water filter? I have used and maintained several different types and Katadyn makes about the best.
    Their drip system makes about a gallon a minute, with no pumping or electricity required. Just a bucket to bring the pond water to the filter. Although you might want to filter the pond water with a paper coffee filter first to get the chunk's out. Their other models work well too. The only down side is that you are paying for the Swiss quality.

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  18. I think those of us that grew up with a well are a little more prepared than most. I know when there is no power/no water is a HUGE surprise to many people-in fact it shocks me that most people do not store water. The only thing I would like to toss out is that the solar bags don't work too well in the winter and as I have gotten older, I want my hot shower. We spent $200 and bought a propane heated camping shower system. When power or water is out, we have set it up in the garage shower and take our hot showers. 3 of use use less than 5 gallons and its HOt-sometimes too hot just another prep to make things a little easier

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  19. Anybody know the costs of installing an old-fashioned hand pump?

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  20. It appears from the photos that your original pump was a Grundfos. We are a rep for them and they are the largest pump manufacturer in the world. Their equipment consistently lasts longer than others. Consider yourself blessed.

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  21. I would recommend another holding tank for your place, that is designated for the household usage only. Then you will not be continually drawing directly off the well, you will be storing your water into the holding tank from the well which then can be pumped into the house for daily needs.
    It stops the continuous wear and tear on the well pump by having the water in your storage tank(s).
    At our place they set up the water storage tank from there the water lines go into a jet pump, then into the regular pressure tank system. It was set up this way to keep the pressure from rising and falling to much. It has work great for us. Our homes ground level sets above the well head by at least 15 feet or more, that is why the jet pump.
    We have rain gutters that come off the out buildings into water storage tanks for fire protection. It is not potable due to the roofing material being composition.
    If you decided to purchase any other tanks, we recommend one called a low profile design, the base is wider and the rise is shorter which makes it easier to add and repair parts on the unit.

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