So my wife and have been discussing our concerns about water. We have a well and when the power goes out so does our water. Yes, I am prepared and I have a generator so in the short run we are fine. Sadly, eventually I will run out of gas and then things get ugly or at least smelly.
My well is too deep.
So my initial thought was I will just get a hand pump throw it on the well cap and I am back in business. Plus, it looks all quaint and country. The problem is an affordable (under$150) hand pump will only pump up 25-33 feet and my well hits water at about 75 feet. If you have water under 30 feet deep in your well you can follow these same directions, drop it right in your well, which is awesome. The bonus is instead of galvanized pipe you can use PVC and save a ton of cash.
So The Research Continues
My cheapness then pushes me to find another solution. What I came up with is pretty cool. It turns out that you can put in a working shallow well for about $300 bucks. Why people who have cabins and camps aren’t all doing this shocks me. You just need to do a little scouting around your property and stay at least 50 feet from any septic and leach fields. Some of the parts may be available locally for less- do your own research.
The Mighty Divining Rod
This part is a little tricky and takes some faith but for the right person it’s freaking awesome. You will want a divining rod. This is a fresh cut forked stick made from hickory, peach, dogwood or cherry. You can then experiment by tightly holding it over a known water source like a well (not too deep like mine). When you are over the water source the pull will be strong enough to start to separate the bark and leave friction marks on your hands. There is tons of information on this available and you are welcome to bring in a professional or just roll the dice.
What You Need
After you feel like you have found a strong water source you will need some supplies.
4 x 1-1/4 60″ galvanized pipe (Lowes $26 Each couplings also available)
First, you will need to use a post digger and dig a three to four foot hole. Next connect the first piece of pipe using the coupling. Don’t forget you need to install the cap on the top of the pipe to protect the threads. Next use a “slam hammer” or post driver to drive the pipe into the ground adding couplings and pipe as you go. You will here a hollow “bong” sound when you hit groundwater. You want to drive the screen deep enough until it is fully submerged. Check this by lowering a plum-bob and if it is wet you know you are good. Next, connect the check valve to a short piece of pipe and thread on the pump. Keep in mind your well pump will not work if it is deeper than 33 feet .
Priming and Winterizing
To prime the pump you just pour water in the top handle and start pumping. If you don’t have a check valve you will need to prime it before each use. This works great if you build your cabin around the pump and you keep it warm all winter. Also if you live in a warm climate or don’t need it in the winter this will perfect. To winterize just lift up the handle. You will need to leave a bucket with some water and prime before each use, refilling as you go.That said, the check valve is a blessing only requiring you to prime it once. Once the colder temperatures arrive you will have to unscrew the check valve to drain out any of the remaining water and revert to the previous method.
You might think I mean it is time for beer. Yes, in fact it is, nice job. The first couple of gallons will come out dirty but will soon clear. If this is going to be your primary source of water it is a good idea to get it tested for bacteria, kits are available at local hardware stores.