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I have an old house with two wells. One is a shallow well, the other is a deep well with a submersible pump. The submersible pump needs replacement, so I want to pull it up and replace it.

When I access the well, this is what I see (see picture):

well head

The breaker is off, and I disconnected the wires, as seen in the picture.

Questions:

  1. The 1" hole you see at 12-o'clock in the cap had a piece of metal pipe inserted in it. This was just a piece of pipe, no threads on it, and not attached to anything. About 12" long. What is this piece of pipe for? Just some left-over pipe they put on it to cover the hole? Or is there any function to it?
  2. The well cap is a split top. I removed the 4 bolts, but the cap does not move. I have all sorts of tools that I know will get the cap off :prybars, sledge hammers, a come along, my truck winch, etc, but I obviously don't want to go there unless I know for sure this cap is not attached to anything else I need to disconnect first. Question: is this cap attached to anything, or is it just stuck from rust? Can I just start going up the ladder of aggression until it comes off, or is there something to disconnect first?

EDIT: I will put the bolts back, as now I realize they are holding the bottom plate in place. As you can see in the image, the water line is not coming through the cap. It's not shown in the picture, but the water line is coming about through the side of the well casing.

I just want to know if there's something to be aware of before I do something like this enter image description here.

I have an excavator at hand.

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  • I have seen some well maintenance videos on Youtube lately (having bought a house with a well for the first time). I'm fairly certain that removing the bolts was a no-no, and there's things resting on your pump now that should still be at the top of the casing bolted under the well cap. Some youtubing on wells might be a good idea. Oct 23, 2023 at 15:47
  • My cap uses wedges tighten against the pipe with those bolts. I would put the bolts back in loosely to hold the wedges.
    – crip659
    Oct 23, 2023 at 15:53
  • I will put the bolts back. But is there anything attached to the cap?
    – Cheery
    Oct 23, 2023 at 15:54

1 Answer 1

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As this wellhead appears to be in a concrete pit, be certain of your ventilation and/or have a person standing by to pull your head up (without coming in after you - tie a rope on you first if need be) before bending down for a closer look. My LAHJ would require an casing extension to put the wellhead at least 18" above ground level and filling in the pit, as a hazard for well contamination and to life via asphyxiation.

It's the wrong cap (actually a "seal" not a cap) for the application, which is why it has the extra hole and the seal (leftover from a deep well jet, probably, since it's a two-holer.) So the pipe was probably just keeping debris from falling down the hole.

As you don't have pipe coming through it, there should be nothing else attached to it. It's probably just fairly stuck, as that style of cap is typically built with a rubber seal around the edge in case it's employed on an artesian well where it needs to hold back pressure from the well side. As already commented the bolts that apply pressure to that seal would be loosened, not removed, so if the lower parts have not fallen down the well yet, you should put them back in (engage the threads, but leave the bolts loosened) before removing the cap. Before resorting to heavy equipment, try simple prying between the lip and the top of the well casing.

It would be wise to allow for the possibility that there's something like a loop for a "safety cable" (the safety of which is a debatable point) on the underside, so pull the cap up 2" and check, don't yank it up 3 feet. There should be some slack on such a cable, as it had to allow for the cap to be installed. There may also be no such cable, or there may be the rotten remains of a poorly selected rope if the wrong thing was used. If you use a cable at all, stainless steel is the material of choice.

two-part seal with eye bolt

Image source https://www.simmonsmfg.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/WS208.jpg no endorsement implied.

However, you need to be VERY careful not to lose the electrical cable down the well.

The proper cap for an electrical connection and a pitless adapter (the way the pipe leaves through the side of the well lower down) has the electrical cable and conduit entry in the base of the cap outside the well casing. There's also a screened vent in that. This cap probably doesn't even have a base outside. That does not require disconnecting the pump power cable and risking dropping it down the well simply to access the bore.

Watertight well cap

Image source https://www.simmonsmfg.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/WC758.jpg no endorsement implied.

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  • This is really useful, thanks, particularly with the image of the proper cap. Using a flashlight, I can see that there are several feet of cable slack inside of the casing, so I should be safe by tying the end of the cable to an object outside of the pit.
    – Cheery
    Oct 23, 2023 at 16:41
  • The cable/rope attached to the loop would be there to hold onto the well pump, to prevent the pump from falling down to the bottom and help with pulling the pump up.
    – crip659
    Oct 23, 2023 at 17:01
  • As noted, it's a subject of considerable debate. The pipe alone should hold the pump, and be used to pull the pump. A cable/rope can solve some potential problems, and can cause others.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 23, 2023 at 17:14

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