Last summer, we were told that our well was getting up there in years and would soon need to be replaced. So we started a New Well Fund, and by this spring, we’d saved up enough to have the new well drilled.
Out here in the boonies (only 5 miles from “civilization” like cable, natural gas, city water, and Meijer’s), we are plagued by power outages. It’s better than it was a couple years ago, when every heavy rain would kill our power for hours at a time, but we still lose power for 8 – 72 hours about once or twice a year. And as you probably know, when you’re on a well, no power means no water. We keep jugs of water in the house, but we decided that an even better solution would be to have a hand pump on the well.
We opted for a Simple Pump. The beauties of this pump are many. It needs no priming. (Older-style pumps require you to pour water into the pump before it will start to draw water, so you’re out of luck if you’re completely out of water, or your priming water is frozen). The pump won’t freeze in the winter – you can use it all year with no modifications. It installs alongside your existing electric pump, so there’s no switchover between electric and manual. In fact, both can be running at the same time. And supposedly, you can run a hose from the Simple Pump to the pressure tank in your basement, charge the pressure tank, and continue to get water flowing out of your faucets. I need a male/male hose adapter, and then I’ll try this out and report on how it goes. [Update: here’s the review. The verdict? Possible but maybe not preferable.]
For pumping into a bucket or hose, the Simple Pump is very easy to use. I can operate it with one hand, though I prefer the balance of using two hands. Our well is about 100’ deep, and it takes 5 strokes to get the water going, then an additional 10 strokes to pump a gallon of water. There are two handle settings; the other setting makes pumping easier, but you get less water per stroke. I actually found that setting too easy at our depth, like riding a bike in first gear downhill. A child could definitely pump water, and because of the hose attachment, you could use the pump action to move the water rather than relying on hauling buckets.
The cost of having the Simple Pump installed during new well installation was $1300 (parts and labor). That was a bit steep, especially on top of the $4300-5000 for a typical well installation, but we think it’s worth it. Cribley Well Drilling did the installation; they said this is the 6th or 7th they’ve done this year – so apparently, lots of folks are thinking this is a good idea. It might be something that a group of neighbors could pitch in for, or perhaps a church or Grange.
I also have to say, the quality of water from the new well just floors me. Our old well was at least 40 years old, we think, and the steel casing was starting to disintegrate. We used a whole-house sediment filter and a Britta pitcher filter, and the water tasted like iron and stained everything. Bathwater was gray from suspended manganese sediment. From time to time, I would switch to store-filtered water for drinking, and it tasted so…clean. (Although even the old well water tasted cleaner than chlorinated city water.)
The water from the new well tastes decent right out of the tap. I’ll be curious to see if that lasts; the well was just bleached, after all. And I know that the plastic (PVC?) lining is not the best thing to be in contact with drinking water, but well water is 55 degrees, and plastic leaches the least when it’s cold. And honestly, after drinking rust flakes and fine particle sediment, I think I’ll risk it. The well driller said we should be able to quit filtering the water completely, too.
So all in all, I’m really pleased. The service from Cribley was fantastic (they even ran a PVC conduit through the basement wall for the hose to charge the pressure tank), the water is great, and the hand pump is everything I’d hoped for. I’m also wondering if the country curse of “iron in the water” is a misnomer, if the iron is actually your disintegrating well casing.