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What happens when you give an engineer a well

  1. Jun 20, 2005 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    Okay, my degree is really in physics but I took a minor in hydraulic engineering, so it sort of applies. Anyway, we live miles from the nearest town so we and everyone around has a private well. In this particular area we also have problems with iron in the water - which means iron bacteria - as well as calcium and other hard water problems, and finally, we get an occasional blast of sulfur. In reality cartridge iron filters work reasonably well, but they are expensive, high maintenance, and they don't work good enough for my tastes. Also, I like the idea of chlorine as an oxidizer since it eliminates almost all concerns about safe water. So, after getting about a dozen years of experience with a well and the associated equipment, a few years ago I put in what I consider to be the ultimate system. In one sense it is a shame that we need to use so much, but the risk with bad water is that every water appliance and all of your clothes can be ruined in one day. So I not only wanted fantastic water, I wanted double redundancy as well. We certainly have both! Any two filters can fail [including the water softener], and I won't see any iron in the house. Also, by adding the automatic bottom flush to the dwell time tank, most precipitates never enter the filters. And all of the filters automatically backflush and self clean as scheduled by settings made on each unit. Unfortunately, you don't even want to know what this all cost, but since this is a major home investment we splurged and bought the best - good for thirty years and very low maintance. I only need to add chlorine and salt a few times a year.

    I had made this up for a friend, but as engineers or scientists, or at least being of similar mind, I thought you could appreciate why this system is my pride and joy. :!!) Our water is wonderful! Of course, it had better be!!!

    Note that the picture looks a little skewed, but this is just some artifact from the camera.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2005 #2
    I'm kinda wondering why you've a 'constant pressure booster pump' and 'booster press reserve' in that setup, instead of a couple more standard pressurized tanks like the one on the far left... is your main pump/well not able to supply enough?

    It's a neat looking setup, yet from a repair/removal standpoint, that pressure tank is going to be a real pain to remove if/when the bladder breaks and water fills the upper portion of it (about 10 years, will be extremely heavy). I'm looking at all the plumbing you have in front and sides of it.

    Other questions: above or in-well pump, depth to water, total depth of well?

    Iron in the water sounds like Vermont or Wisconsin.
     
  4. Jun 20, 2005 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    The primary pump and old pump house is located about three hundred feet away from this new building which is right next to the house. I wanted more horsepower, but my wire and length of run limited the size of the primary pump. But it was easy to run a new circuit to the new building for the booster pump. And having constant pressure is really nice. Standard systems fluxuate between 40-60 psi with each cycle, which is really noticable, and at some point really grew annoying. This system maintains pressure to within no more than 5 PSI. The pressure reserve bladders greatly reduces the number of pump cycles, hence extending the life of the pumps by as much as a decade.

    That is all easily drained. The picture may not make this clear, but one great thing about this system is that I have plenty of room to work when needed. The old pump house is very small by comparison. This building is what...8' X 16' I think... There's enough room that this only occupies about half of the building, and my wife Tsu uses the other half as a garden shop.

    The primary pump is a submersible pump, about fifty feet down, with about 120 feet of water below that!

    Oregon
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2005
  5. Jun 20, 2005 #4

    honestrosewater

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    I want a cup of coffee. You're hired. I'll supply the land and seeds. :biggrin: You do work pro bono Rachel, right?

    Um, meaning I'm impressed. My sense of humor has been off lately. :frown:
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2005
  6. Jun 20, 2005 #5

    honestrosewater

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    How much energy can you save by letting gravity help move the water through the pipes? I have almost no idea what's happening in the picture, but I notice the pipes are pretty much all parallel or perpendicular to the ground. Would it help to make them slope? Does it all cancel out anyway?
    It would shorten the path at least? Maybe it's too much trouble? Just curious.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2005
  7. Jun 20, 2005 #6

    Astronuc

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    That's certainly industrial scale, Ivan!

    My system is a simple "green sand" filter to remove the Fe and Mn, followed by a water softener. Very seldom do we have to 'shock' the well with Cl. We do not have a chlorinator in the system. We do not have a problem with bacteria. The water system is in the basement of the house because during winter the temperature outside can go as low as -25°F (-32°C).

    We are contemplating a reverse osmosis system.

    The house sits atop a large deposit of Fe and Mn. In one spot, where I was making a raised bed for an herb garden, the Fe ore breaks the surface. And that is only 40 feet from the water well.

    The well was about 120 feet (37 m) with a jet pump. The original system had so much Fe oxide buildup, we replaced the whole system, as well as the in-door plumbing. We had water supply problems many years ago, so the we had the well deepened to 200 ft (61 m).
     
  8. Jun 20, 2005 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    The energy demand is relatively low due to the low duty cycle. With the pressure reserve tanks attached, the pumps only have to run during periods of heavy water use - like when filling the bathtub, doing laundry etc. When we water outside, only one pump runs and the filter system is bypassed. We might have noticed a $5 a month increase in the power bill, at most.

    Also, it turned out that by adding the second pump, the primary pump can be run constantly at its peak efficiency - ie no compromise for practical needs. So some of the power for the second pump was effectively free.
     
  9. Jun 20, 2005 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    I looked at UV, ozone, reverse osmosis, and pretty much everything else out there. But I finally decided to stick with the tried and true chlorine system. IIRC, our particular set of problems and needs made reverse osmosis impractical, I think due to the number of particulates... and the UV and ozone systems tend to be high maintenance; when they work. We could have tried a deeper well, but there is no inidication that we would do any better. Everyone out here has the same problem. Finally, there are the little horror stories that I hear, such as how a mole can burrow into your well, fall in the water, and then rot away in the well in your drinking water. I wanted to know that this sort of thing is not a problem.
     
  10. Jun 20, 2005 #9

    Astronuc

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    I hadn't heard that one. Anyhow, around our place, the rock - and I mean hard rock starts at about 6-12 inches below the surface. There is little in the way of 'soil' in which a mole could burrow. The well is encased in a carbon steel casing - which itself is pretty rusty. :rolleyes:

    We do have moles and voles in the yard. Now and then we find a tunnel, especially in the spring when the ground is soft under the snow.
     
  11. Jun 20, 2005 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    Yes, with a steel casing and all of that hard rock, you probably don't have to worry about rodents. :biggrin: Our sits down in the cow pasture. Not only is the well shallow, there are septic systems, agriculture [chemicals], and new homes with more septic systems going in around here almost every month now. All of that in addition to the known bacteria problems... It was a heart breaker to write the check for all of that, but after living with marginal quality water for many years, my heart is filled with joy with every sparkling, crystal clear glass from IWD - Ivan's Water District. :tongue2:
     
  12. Jun 20, 2005 #11

    FredGarvin

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    A sight to warm one's heart. Nice set up Ivan. Is this in between your own electrical substation and sewage treatment plant?
     
  13. Jun 20, 2005 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    Plans for the dam and generator [the creek] have been in the works for fifteen years. But please don't rush me! :tongue:
     
  14. Jun 20, 2005 #13

    Danger

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    With the number of PF beavers willing to help you out, the dam should be done in a couple of hours. You just concentrate on the generator.
     
  15. Jun 21, 2005 #14
    "The Domestic Water System of the Space Shuttle"
     
  16. Jun 21, 2005 #15

    Phobos

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    Yikes! Quite the setup for home use! As an environmental engineer, my hat is off to you for this inspired undertaking. Hope the maintenance isn't too much. You could probably publish this in a trade journal. :)

    My first reaction was to drill a deeper well, but it seems you've ruled that one out.
     
  17. Jun 21, 2005 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    :biggrin:

    No, as designed, this is almost maintenance free. Also, I spent years investigating the options, but everyone within a couple of miles of here has the same problem; apparently no matter where or how deep they drill. When I couldn't find one well that has good water, and when I checked the water quality in other houses in the area :yuck:, and the maintenance requirements of alternative systems, I finally realized that there was only one way to beat this problem. But, it was a huge and expensive undertaking. And as you can imagine, the pump and filter equipment salesman really likes me.
     
  18. Jun 21, 2005 #17
    Ivan - that is the best bit of home-made kit I've seen in years. Great stuff!
     
  19. Jun 30, 2005 #18

    Tsu

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    I've been in Northern California for the last ten days and I have to go back tomorrow for at least another week. I'm going to be taking multiple bottles of our water with me because I've been spoiled by out water so much all other water tastes just NASTY. :yuck: Just wish I could take enough along to wash my hair in a couple of times. That hard, awful water just wrecks my hair. :grumpy: I don't think there's a conditioner on the planet that will help with that stuff.
     
  20. Jun 30, 2005 #19

    Moonbear

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    So you've been down in California while Ivan's been battling toxic mold single-handed? Tsk tsk! :tongue:
     
  21. Jun 30, 2005 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    :biggrin: No, you can't fault her on this one. For one, Tsu doesn't enjoy TBM nearly as much as I do. But also, she has been taking care of my mother. Mom [~70 years old] just had major surgery and needed help and care. With her 30 years of professional experience, Tsu insisted on being there. And a good thing it was; she did need to take charge and ultimately convince the doctor that my mother needed to be re-admitted. She ended up on Methadone of all things! [um, my mom, not Tsu, I think...].
     
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