WATER WELL PUMP CONVOLUTIONS

A House With No Water Supply

The rural or country house almost always has a Water Well Pump for supplying water and most of them have the type called a Deep Well with a Submersible Pump that pushes water up from an aquifer into your house and the spigots outside. If it stops working, you have no running water. When I lived in the city, I took the water supply for granted as long as I paid the monthly bill. Now I lived where I had to be responsible for my own system.

While I was in the process of buying my home, the first thing I did was have the electricity turned on before the closing of escrow. When I turned on the faucet, no water came out. There was a designated pump house, a deep well installation, and all the equipment needed to bring water into the house, but there was no electric power to the unit.

After looking around for an answer, I noticed an inactive power pole near the outbuilding that had a breaker box in very poor shape with a meter attached. It had a bare underground rated Romex cable coming out of it and going straight into the ground below.

A similar cable was coming out of the ground at the water pump house and attached to the pump switch box. The protective breaker inside the rusted panel box had also seen better days.

In any event, I wanted to see if this extra meter on the property was responsible for supplying power to the water well pump. Since flipping the breaker did not resolve the issue, I suspected the meter had been plugged and the power company did not have it on their connect list when I had them energize the house. So I clipped the sealed wire holding the meter in place and removed it. I then removed the plastic connection blocking tabs and reinstalling it. Voila! The water pump came on and I had water. 

Since I had legally requested and paid for house activation, I considered this an oversight by the power company. I needed to have it on for an upcoming FHA required inspection and my own home inspection report by an independent agent. Barring possible issues to follow, I took a chance and left it on. However, I knew the matter was going to need attention at a future date.

The Disintegrating Electrical Supply

On my next trip to the house, I found that the meter had been plugged again. When I confronted the power company, they said the meter was listed on their records as being on a separate lot as the one my home was on. To activate it, they wanted an extra deposit and would add monthly fees to be assessed above those charged to my house account. They also wanted to fine me for messing with the odd meter in the first place.

As I discussed in another blog, I told them to pull the meter and disconnect the wires to that separate pole. I would run an electric line from the house underground to the water pump. For added measure, they waived the fine when I threatened to challenge their outdated files. The county tax assessor already had my property listed as a single entity and I told them they better update their files accordingly.

Following that ordeal, I made a followup trip to the house, this time with my wife. As expected, we saw that the meter had been removed and wires from the county road power pole to my meter pole were gone. Now I really had to act fast on my new pump house electric supply plan.

The Pump House Energizer Plan

After seeing that the water flow was good and the holding tank and well head was in good shape, I moved forward with my plan. All my attention would be focused on the defective electrical supply and commensurate connections needed to make the whole thing work.

I first installed an extra (and updated) full-house-rated 200 amp breaker box in the utility room next to the older existing one. I then ran 1-1/2″ pvc electric conduit from that box, under the house, and out and down into a trench that I dug by hand all the way to the pump house.

Since I also had an RV travel trailer to consider, I wanted enough capacity to run the 220 volt pump and the 110 volt/30 amp electric supply for the RV. To meet that requirement, I ran a 4-wire, #6 line inside the conduit to an exterior sub panel breaker box mounted on the well pump house wall.

Then I ran #10 wire in waterproof flexible conduit to the pump switch box. Since the pump was a 220 volt unit, I protected the wire with a 30 amp double pole breaker.

The remaining electrical capacity was sent to the RV electrical box via 1″ pvc conduit run underground as well. I also used #10 wire for that feed and another 30 amp breaker at the pump house sub panel box to protect the wire.

Why I Did What I Did

The reasons for my decisions were as follows:

  • I eliminated the extra cost of having a separate meter ($350 deposit and $26 a month service charge-$312 a year over what I would be charged for kilowatt hours used). I put the money saved into materials I purchased for supplying my own electric service to the pump.
  • The chance of having a storm force a tree down onto the overhead power lines would be eliminated.
  • The breaker box was beyond repair and needed to be replaced anyways, so I saved that cost.
  • Unprotected Romex wire in the ground has never appealed to me. It can be cut easily by digging a trench or shifting earth.
  • Adequate electrical wire capacity to the pump will insure that it does not burn out because of overheating or lack of sufficient current to operate properly.
  • Future electrical needs to outbuilding would be taken care of with the new setup.

The Current Pump Status

Since I did the work myself as a licensed general contractor in place of an expensive licensed electrician, my cost for materials only came to about $200. This cost can be reduced to about $100 if you are running electricity to the water well pump only.

I was told by the well pump inspector that he had installed the pump about 6 years ago. Since the house had been vacant for 4 of those years, I was informed I had 15 to 20 years of life left in the unit. However, I will have to keep an eye on the storage tank for possible leaks and the switch box for malfunction because there are contacts in it that can corrode over time.

To summarize my findings, I have found that it makes no sense to forgo a working knowledge of your pump. Periodic maintenance on your well will go a long way to help you avoid malfunctions at inopportune moments in time. It could take a week or more to get it fixed or replaced by a professional service operator. I am learning preventative maintenance procedures for myself as time goes on. After all, carting water to the house is no fun, and probably can be avoided with a little bit of knowledge and care. Take heed and you will save yourself a lot of trouble going forward.

 

I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!
 

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