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hand dug well

Glendale, UT(Zone 5a)

has anyone dug a well?
I am planning to dig a well so we can have water if the lights go out, -- my plan is to build a slip form and pour a concrete casing that will slip down as I dig, -so --the well will be cased, --and it will not cave in on me as I dig, --I will just pour a couple feet of casing then dig until it is about to the bottom of the form, then pour some more, -I will use #3 rebar, and am thinking about a 36" well, -- any thoughts?

Richmond, TX

Wow! That's an ambitious project. What kind of soil(s) will you be digging through and do you know how deep it will have to be?

Glendale, UT(Zone 5a)

My soil is mostly sand, for 3 feet, then hard clay for a foot then more sand for 2 more feet, -- [that is as far as I have gone], -- but the soil here is mostly sand from the well driller log, from my other well, -- the water is at 25 feet in my 4 inch well, -- but it has been driven into rock at 138 feet, --so i supose the water table will be at 15 - 20 feet [or so], --we will see, --

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Michael, do you actually need another well, or just a way to have water when there's no power?

Glendale, UT(Zone 5a)

I want to have water when the power is out, --the 4" well I have has a 1 h submersible pump in it, -- it is 25 feet to water, -and the small pumps, I have found that would work with that situation do not put out enough water to garden and water livestock [not to mention it is 4 miles to the river], and most people here need water, when the power is out, -- I had people lined up, to get water, [and shower] at my place because I have a generator, -- some were out of power for over a month, -I live way out in the swamp- we got no help, [except for FEMA turning off the cel towers so we could not call for help] - if the power went out permantly, --I would run out of gas in a few weeks, --with no reliable way to get water [I do not want to rely on anything electric, as they fail] I have a water pureifier, I just want a bullet proof way of geting water-

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I understood there were a variety non-electric pumps that would work if it's only 25' to the water. There are several websites that deal with creative alternatives for Third World countries. You'll need an easy means of bringing up water from a new well, too.

I've read a little about hand-digging wells but it's been years and I never had any hands-on experience... so I'm no help there.

Glendale, UT(Zone 5a)

I will pour the casing as I go, -- so-- it can not cave in on me,, -- everything else is just work, ---

Richmond, TX

The mechanics of digging in a 36" space seems a bit daunting to me. And what happens after you hit water? How far will you be able to keep going?

Glendale, UT(Zone 5a)

I will need to dig a few feet past the water level, --room for a bucket [not to hit the bottom], and hopefully a hand pump, -- but the water is 74 deg here, so t won,t be too bad.
I have to get the rest of my raised beds built and filled, first, [have the materials for 2 more 120 x 5 ft beds] --then on to the next project--

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Michael, I swear you have as many projects as I do!

I had to look up Orange Springs to see where you are... I'm a FL native but didn't recognize the name. We used to swim in Salt Springs when I was a kid, stayed at a cabin on Lake George.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Michaelp ~ I've never dug a shallow well but talked to many older folks that have. I had looked into it in this area as I wanted an accessible water source should the power fail. A few things I have found are below.

Well drillers/diggers in Texas are no longer allowed to drill or dig shallow wells and could lose their license if caught doing so. The state has determined that due to overpopulation and agriculture. the shallow groundwater is contaminated and unfit to consume. Our well man said anyone can dig their own however but to consume at our own risk.

It is recommended if you dig your well that you not do so alone. The elderly here remember hitting pockets of gas that can overcome a person. They say to keep a person on the ground to watch over the person digging in the well. It is also recommended to tie a rope around the waist of the digger. In the event they do pass out, they can be removed from the well. I have talked to enough different folks to know that it was not uncommon to be overcome by the gas fumes. The person on ground can also pull out the buckets of soil with a separate rope.

If I were you, I believe I would look at concrete culvert tiles large enough to serve as the curbing for your well. That would be far easier and although more cost, less time intensive. Just a thought.

I had wanted a shallow well to use for gardening and as a supplemental source if the power is off. In addition, after the drought conditions Texas has endured and the excessive use of water by the gas drilling companies in this area, many local shallow wells have gone dry. After researching, we have opted to harvest rainwater. We obtained three 250 gallon containers and will be able to access the water even without power.

Wish you luck in your endeavor... Kristi



Richmond, TX

- But first it has to RAIN...

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL ~ sad but true.

It is amazing though, as to how much rainwater can be harvested from an inch of rain over a large expanse of roof.
DH put gutter on a carport/storage/greenhouse roof that is 12 ft x 60 ft on one side.
Less than one inch of rain on that surface will overflow a 50 gallon barrel.

I am comfortable that even with minimal rain, it will accumulate faster than we will use it.
Now if it never rained again, we are all doomed. Don't even want to think about that.

OTOH, if it comes to actually consuming the water, I believe I would prefer rainwater over groundwater in east TX.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Well Said!!

If my spring gets any less flow I may have to harvest rainwater myself. Meanwhile I'm hoping the hugelkulture berms and swales I'm building will help.

Glendale, UT(Zone 5a)

I looked into concrete pipe to case the well, --it was very expensive, I have been looking for a few "blems" that could be purchased cheeply, -how ever-- the pipe I could get was 8 feet long and about a ton each, --that presents another set of conditions, to be delt with. --if I build a slip form I can pour a foot or 2 at a time as I dig, -so much easier to get the dirt out, and no seams to be grouted,
-- I made a 4' well at my farm in Ca. but had access to equipment, --I had an auger truck come dig the hole, and it had a cable to lower the casing down the hole, --after the first 3 pipes, --we had to use a smaller auger to go inside of the pipe and drill down and let the casing settle and then set another pipe, --[those were 2 ton pipe] I got as blems, just for hauling them, --I then had to make a platform that could be lowered into the well, and grout all the joints, [my boys lowered buckets of grout to me, as I was lowered down the hole], ---drilling it was a big project for 1 day, [that was all the time I could get for my friends with the drill rig, to stop by on their way to another job]
-- if I pour my own, --I can take as much time as I want, --and-- my ladder will fit down the hole, so i can climb out or in easily, --

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Sorry, I wasn't thinking. In this area there are a couple of independent businesses that do concrete vaults for caskets, curbing and culvert. The culverts are in 2 or 3 foot lengths and sleeved to fit over one another. They would still be very heavy but that was what I was thinking of. Lord, I can't imagine trying to handle an 8' length.

In the mid 70s when we moved here, we had a shallow well drilled for household use. They used this type of curbing and didn't grout it.

Hope your project goes well.

Glendale, UT(Zone 5a)

the reason I grouted --is to keep surface water from getting down the well, --if water comes in at the bottom only ,it is well filtered, -[and pretty clean], --

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

We have a handug well here and use it for drinking water. The house is hooked to city water but the well is plumbed to a pump under the house and has 3 spigots on it. 2 are on the sides of the house and the other is in the cellar. I catch jugs of water to drink from it because it tastes good. There are wells like it all over the area here. They are lined with stones from the mountains stacked one on top of the other in layers.

Glendale, UT(Zone 5a)

before the days of concrete, digging a well and using stone to build the side walls was quite a project and dangerous, as cave-ins are common, --and in some areas the wells had to be 50 feet deep [or more] - I would not like to try to do it the old way, --lots of people lost their life trying to get the water they needed-

Richmond, TX

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Kerrville, TX

A hand driven well in your area should be easy to do.

http://www.google.com/search?q=driving+a+water+well&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

Or just google "driving a water well" for lots of info.

Here are some purty pitchers of driving a well..........

http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/mcdougall128.html

This message was edited Dec 17, 2011 10:56 PM

Saint Helena Island, SC

Before you try digging a well by hand try whats called jetting or washing a well down. it's cheap and easy and it usually works as long as you don't hit rock. What you do is run a garden hose down to the very end of your pvc pipe and well screen, stand the pipe and well screen up and turn the water hose on. the water pressure blast a hole in the ground and the pipe sinks down. In sand you can go down 25' in a few minutes. If you are going through clay cut teeth in the end of the pipe and bounce it up and down and twist it in the hole to cut through the clay. The water will wash the soil up and keep the hole open as long as it is running but the hole will close up and your pipe will stick if you shut the water off; so thread the hose through all the pipe you are going to use before you start and assemble the pipe as you go down. when you get done drilling your hole pour some gravel down the pipe to block the hole so your pump doesn't suck up sand. I put in a 45' well like this. Send me a dmail if you have any questions.

Saint Helena Island, SC

I forgot to add that you make your well screen from drive points that you get from lowes- just cut the points off of the screens and glue the lengths together with regular pvc couplings. The drive points are located by the well pumps and pressure tanks in the plumbing isle at lowes.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

That would not work here in our VERY rocky ground.

Canyon Lake, TX(Zone 8b)

What a project! How do you fit inside a 3' hole to dig? Do you go in head first?

Have you considered dropping a 1" PVC pipe down your existing 4" well and hooking it to a hand pump. Another alternative is a cistern or a couple thousand gallon reservoir tied in with your existing system.

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