Thursday, March 12, 2015

Driving A Water Well

Recently I came across an old magazine with an article I had written; thought someone might enjoy it. The following article was published in Countryside & Small Stock Journal, vol. 81 No. 3, May/June, 1997. 

Driving a Well: It Really Works!

by David R. Brumbelow, Highlands, Texas

February 9, 1996 was an important day for me. That is the day we drove a water well on our property in Brazoria County, Texas.

I have been slowly making improvements to the property for the last three years or so. I first got the idea of driving the well from Countryside. I also got more information from the Lehman’s catalog. I had never personally known of anyone who had driven their own well.

I ordered a pitcher pump from Lehman’s (Box 41, Dept 2-KGB, Kidron, OH 44626; they can also be ordered from many local hardware stores), and bought 1-¼” galvanized pipe from a pipe company in Baytown near where I live. I also ordered the special drive cap and couplings from Lehman’s. The well point was purchased at Lowe’s in Baytown. I had the pipe cut into 10’ and 5’ lengths and threaded at the hardware store in Brazoria. I had them put more threads on the pipe than normal so the drive cap would screw all the way down to the top. That way when we drove the pipe into the ground, the force of the blows would be on the pipe itself rather than the threads.

My brother, Mark, borrowed a driver. It was just like a T-post (steel fence post) driver except much larger. It had handles on each side and was made from 4” pipe. It weighed 53 pounds.

The property has a creek running through it that will dry up in the summer. We had a bulldozer dig a small pond out of the creek bed. I selected the site of the well about 20 yards from the pond and near a small ditch that runs into the pond.

We began on the big day, February 9. I’m single, but I had the help of Mark, his son Daniel, and my Dad, Joe Brumbelow. We began by digging a post hole several feet deep. We then put Teflon tape on the threads of the well point and added a coupling and a 10 foot length of pipe. The drive cap screwed down on top of the pipe.

The length was a little difficult to work with. (I was trying to save on couplings.) To begin driving the pipe we had to climb a step ladder with the 53 pound driver. It was hard work but the pipe went down pretty good. A lighter driver would have been more work in the long run.

When we got the 10 foot section down we unscrewed the drive cap and were surprised that there was no damage to the threads of the pipe. The extra threads and the drive cap really work! (I recommend you buy the coupling and drive camp from Lehman’s since they are made especially for this purpose.) we added Teflon tape, another coupling, a five foot section of pipe and the cap. I backed up my pickup truck and drove the pipe for a while standing on the tailgate.

After we got this section of pipe down a couple of feet we decided to check for water. A small bolt (for weight) was tied on a cord and let down the pipe. When we brought it back up it was wet.

The pitcher pump was screwed on top of the pipe and the pump primed. After pumping for a few seconds muddy water began to pour out. A couple more minutes and the water cleared up. We then took off the pump, added the drive cap, and drove the pipe down another foot or so to where the pump would be at a comfortable level.

We then took a generator and air compressor to “blow out” the well. The theory is that by forcing air down the pipe you create a cavity at the bottom of the well where water can collect. We put the air hose in the pipe and duct taped the opening closed. We ran air down the pipe for several minutes. When it was taken out air rushed out of the pipe. You could then put your ear to the pipe and hear water flowing and splashing back into the cavity. We added a sack of concrete to stabilize the top of the pipe.

By this time my mother, Bonnie, and Mark’s wife, Cherry, and other son, Micah, had joined us. Driving your first well and hitting water is exciting. We all pumped a lot of water that day just for fun.

The entire project took about three hours. The well ended up 16’ deep (including the 3’ well point). Later we poured a half gallon of bleach into the pipe and left it for 24 hours to disinfect the well. The water has been checked and is clean and pure. The taste isn’t all that great but some wells in our area that are 200-300 feet deep are also lacking on taste.

We have used it often since then and it has never run dry. If it ever does, it should be a fairly simple matter to drive the well a few feet deeper.

I eventually plan to put an electric pump on the well when we get a house and electricity there. We like the pitcher pump so much, however, that when that time comes we will probably drive another shallow well just for it.

Note: have a couple of good pipe wrenches with you and remember to use a back-up when you unscrew the cap or the pump; otherwise you might unscrew the pipe underground from the well point or the coupling.

What happens if you don’t hit water? You will still gain a lot of experience, and with some effort the pipe can be pulled. We had a good location plus I did some praying about the project. I happen to be a pastor and as I sometimes joke, “If a Baptist preacher can do it, anybody can!”

Why not try it yourself? Thanks to Countryside for giving me the idea in the first place.


-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 12, AD 2015.

Note: a link to Lehman’s is in the right hand margin. 

The Roman Road of Salvation
More articles in lower right margin. 

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