I have a shallow well with a broken pump at the bottom that I need to service.

The local classifieds are saturated with pool pumps and I got the idea to use one of those, but I'm not sure about power and pressure.

The well is about 10 feet deep and we'll likely be digging it deeper. I know my pool pump is totally capable of moving a lot of water from the same level to the same level, but I'm not sure of its ability to pump 15 feet uphill. I figure the lack of filter will free up some power. I'm looking at a 1 hp pump. It has a basket in it to act as a filter, but I might improvise an intake filter out of a 5 gallon bucket with a few hundred 1/8" holes in it just for safety's sake.

Any ideas on a pool pumps capability to do this?

(I'll be replacing the submerged well pump with an above ground one)

  • 4
    Submersible pumps have many advantages over jet pumps, so I would not replace it if I were you. Normally a submersible is installed with a "pitless adapter" that allows removal of the pump (by pulling up the pipe) -- this is how we service them in drilled wells. If yours is not installed in a removable way, I'd suggest you fix that rather than replace with a jet pump that has practically no advantages (IMHO).
    – gregmac
    Jul 20 '14 at 20:05
  • I also can't answer your question of if a pool pump will work, but I'll give my two cents: You are not dealing with just the water in the well pit now, but also the water flowing into the pit. The flow rate is likely to increase as the volume goes down. A gas-powered trash pump is a much better choice for this type of thing, but you may be surprised at the volume you'll be dealing with. You'll also have to ensure you pump it a far enough distance away that it doesn't just re-enter the well, seeing as dug wells are largely collecting surface water.
    – gregmac
    Jul 20 '14 at 20:08
  • 2
    A pool pump would not be appropriate here. Typically they are not capable of priming more than a foot or two above water. That's why they are always installed adjacent to the pool at nearly the same height as the deck.
    – longneck
    Jul 21 '14 at 0:13

Priming one will be a pain in the posterior, after which it will probably work until it loses prime. I know, because I've done it (well - almost - not a well, but a large amount of water from about 8 feet down). I'd suggest buying a pump that will be less of a pain in the rear to use if you are going to spend money on this. I did have a free pool pump sitting there. They will not self-prime at all - It takes a large amount of water and a degree of persistence to get all the pump and hose full of water, put the output hose in a large buckefull of water, drop the inlet hose in the well and plug in the pump before it back-siphons all the water out of the bucket. If you have too many bubbles trapped, it won't go and you have to try again. Expect to spend at least half an hour fiddling with it to get it to start. If it's a long way down to the water, it gets more difficult to start or re-start.

A typical shallow well is sand-bottomed, so you'll be sucking sand through your pump. Not generally a good thing.

If you have a hill available, grab enough hose to run down it to a level below the bottom of the well, fill it with water, cap the ends, get one end into the well-water and the other to the point below the well, and uncap the ends - a siphon. Be sure to keep the well end submerged - it will move water until it sucks a significant quantity of air. With enough drop on the hill you can use a siphon to suck some sand or muck out of the bottom, too, with no pump to mind the debris. With a big enough hill you can put the end of the hose in the well, pull the lower end of the hose uphill a ways, fill just the lower end of the hose with water and then run it downhill, and the slug of water in the lower hose will pull water through the upper hose. If the water level to the highest point of the siphon is more than about 27 feet, you're out of luck for siphoning.

I would agree with @gregmacs comment to pull the pump up for service rather than pumping the well dry (if indeed, you can keep up with the inflow rate when pumping) - that is the way that sumbersible pumps are serviced. If your setup is missing the magical pipe joint (the pitless adapter - a cute little tapered wedged affair with an o-ring) as used on drilled wells, figure out a way to get one in place. If the pipe comes out the top, you don't need one, just pull the pipe up, pump and all.

You speak of digging the well deeper - how is the well cased/lined now? Does it have concrete well tiles in place? If not, digging it deeper can be a rather hazardous affair due to potential collapse. There are other hazards inherent in digging in a well (drowning, having buckets of dirt dropped on your head, gas pockets...), which is one reason that drilled wells are more common now.

  • Great response! I unfortunately am at the bottom of a hill, so the best I can do is flat out. The pump, as set up, is not removable. My dad installed it (with the help of a 1/2hp sump pump) about 10 years ago. When I reinstall it I'll make sure to do so in a removable fashion. Regarding digging deeper, we currently have a 12 foot round precast concrete shell - we're removing all the dirt weight from the top, driving 4' rebar spikes outwards every foot, then underpinning it with cinder blocks in a circular or quarter-by-quarter fashion.
    – kavisiegel
    Jul 21 '14 at 4:52
  • 2
    The better/usual method is to place another section of precast on top of the first, dig around under the bottom edge, and let it push itself down in (or, if need be, help it along with a little pressure from the equipment used to get the next section of precast on the top; if needed at all that would only be for the first time you are trying to get it to move after it's sat for years.) That requires cutting off any pipe going out the side of the well and re-drilling when complete, but it's guaranteed not to collapse on you. As each new section gets to the ground surface, add another section.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 21 '14 at 12:30
  • I love that idea, actually! I'll have to see if it or something similar could work for us. Accessibility has become a problem since we first dug it - trees grow fast! Perhaps I'll dig under the precast and let it sink, shore up the top of the ditch, then build the top out of blocks.
    – kavisiegel
    Jul 21 '14 at 18:04

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