Sunday, May 2, 2010

They testing missles here?

Some would call it a disaster.  I think of it as collateral damage, or, the price you pay for good water!  If you compare these first two pics with the last one from the last post, you will notice that the one thing missing is the old well head.  Woo-hoo, man!  The last chapter in the saga of the well that stank, happened today.  It wasn't slated to take place until I had more time to dig it in June, but as chance would have it, the opportunity presented itself to get the final segment of the well saga, done today.

For those who may have just tuned in or stumbled across this let me explain.  Since we bought this place back in June of 2007, the one thing that plagued us, quite literally since the day we walked in the door, was the water.  With us coming from a community that had clean mountain water from the Stanislaus River, we moved here to this yellow colored, repugnant smelling, clothes staining, make your hair feel like you swam in a swamp, God forbid you get thirsty, deplorable water, straight from our nastified well.  When the test was done on the well during escrow, everything checked out ok.  That is the only test, which tested the flow rate only, barely scraped by.  No quality tests are really required for escrow.  The flow rate was extremely low, but in accordance to Alaska Real Estate requirements, they did what they came out to do and gave it their stamp of approval.  But not without a little guess work, and possibly a little tainted reporting.  But hey, it is easy to screw the guy moving here from out of state because by the time he finds out about half of what is wrong, it won't be anyone's problem but the poor sap himself anymore!  Yes, all of this will be in full detail.... in the book.  When it comes out, buy it!

So for almost three years we did all we could do, which there wasn't much we could do, to stomach this aquatic adventure.  We even got screwed by the Culligan man!
Kenai Alaska or Bust: November 2009
The bottom line was that it was a crap shoot to drill a new well.  We may get better water.....we may not.  But the odds were put across as really good that we would considering the geographical location and the fact that people near us have been blessed at 100 feet.

 But throughout all of this and so much more, we prevailed, and now after all the stink, foulness, betrayal, misinformation and follies, we have been truly blessed with a new well.  As mentioned in the last post, we hit fresh clean water at 98 feet.  We were temporarily hooked up until I found the time in June to dig the trench for the permanent line to connect the water line into the house from the old well, to the new well.  The opportunity came along much sooner though out of nowhere during the past week, to get a mini excavator out here to do the job for a minimal cost.  So who wouldn't jump on it!?

When all was done and said, the hole was big enough to bury a car at 10 feet down.  Mind you, hard Alaskan winters will freeze 10 feet into the earth.  The top foot or so has thawed already, and we hit ice down to about 3 to 4 feet.....was a mild winter!  Once past the ice it was smooth diggin.  The well company came out Saturday morning to pull the pump so we could do the dig.  Saturday afternoon the dig was done, and by early Saturday evening the well people were out again to set the pitless in the new shaft, and connect the house water supply line over to the new pitless.  What is a pitless?  I figured you would ask that, and it is a good thing I have an answer.

Wells 101:
The pitless is a fitting that is installed into the metal well shaft wall, 10 feet down, and acts as a 90 degree elbow that slips onto the water line that comes up the well from the pump, which is set, in our case, at 98 feet down.  Confused?  Due to the risk of freezing through winter, the water line has to be buried 10 feet down.  Thus, the water being pumped up from the bottom of the well, 98 feet, has to cross over to the house line as well at least 10 feet down.  Since you theoretically can't connect anything in a metal shaft 8 inches in diameter....there would be no room to work in a shaft that small, the pitless is designed to be a slip on style fitting.  A connector pipe.... 10 feet used to slip the fittings together in the inside of the shaft....10 feet down.  A little clearer now?

The pitless that sits down inside the well shaft!

 Remember as couple of paragraphs back how I mentioned that we had a super low water flow rate.  Look at the first it to get a good look...  See where the screwdriver is pointing?  Notice how you can see where the adjoining fitting never lined up with the hole but in fact left about 2/3's of the hole blocked from the opposite fitting....restricting the water flow....  Bingo!  Yes, years ago when the pump was replaced by the original owner, the pitless never slid together properly.  It not only restricted the flow to the house wasting electricity every time the pump came on, but the excess water would just spray back into the well from the gap between the fittings.  So, every time the pump kicked on we essentially were losing valuable pressure, precious water, and, get this.  The way a well is set up physiologically speaking, the constant aeration of the water spraying back into the well caused years of oxidization thus contaminating the well, and creating not only bacteria build up, but helped contribute to the excessive iron that was ever so present in the water.  A vicious cycle, if you would.

Looks reminiscent of a bunch of state highway workers standing around while the gal in the hole works...

John and I ponder....what more can you do!  Before Jeanette arrived it was I down in the 10 foot hole, digging out the old pitless for her to tap into.  It is cold, wet and dank down there.  Hard to shake the feeling of entrapment.  Just focus and get done so you can get out! 

After the new line was connected and the new pitless placed into the new shaft, the old shaft is cut at the bottom of the hole, to be back filled as the hole is filled.  This is it, no more old well!  The bummer of it is that I wanted to drop a sealed 'time capsule' down the old shaft before it was buried.  But, the project came together so fast that I never had the time to make a time capsule.  No ceremony took place.....just the simple and uneventful burial of our old nemesis.

Jeanette cuts the old shaft at the bottom of the hole.

 Going up?  The only way in and out of the hole safely without causing the sides to sluff and cave.  The bucket of the backhoe was the way Jeanette and I went in....and the way we came out....

 With all of that said, the job is done.  Now we just have to re-seed the lawn in the area that was dug out, and replace all of the damaged decking on the walks from all of the equipment and machinery.  After the hole was buried Saturday evening, they came back This morning to drop the pump back in, connect the pump shaft to the pitless, and wire in the pump.  It is a done deal. 

The weather has been great!  This weekend got up to 48 degrees, and sunshine all the way.  The lake is starting to thaw finally!

The birds are starting to arrive now.  Seagulls returned two weeks ago, and while we were in Anchorage for an overnight Thursday night, we went out to Potter Marsh and witnessed the returning geese, and even saw a beaver cruising the waters surface.  Was so cool!  We cant wait for the Tundra Swans to return, and are anticipating the arrival of our Loons on the lake!   It is so exciting having the annual migratory return of so many species after being absent all winter long.  It is like old friends coming home!  Speaking of old friends, we are going to have our friends Ted and Patty visiting in a few weeks!  They will be doing a cruise through the inside passage, southeast Alaska, and over to Seward, where they will visit here for several days and then fly out of Anchorage to head back to California.  I leave you with this magnificent photo of Mt Redoubt blowing off some steam across the bay, last weekend as we saw it coming back from town to get the mail.  It is so beautiful here and we so love it!  It will never get old.


doug said...

Great explanation of the well. I have been wondering how they worked since we've moved up. Nothing beats clean water! I have seen a pair of swans several times over at Bishop Lake in the last two weeks on the way to and from the school.

Kathryn said...

moose droppings! yep, what did I ever do before blogging was invented!