View Full Version : Driving a well point

05-11-2009, 05:01 PM
Hi, everyone. We want to get a shallow well on our new land.

I have read Jeff Yago's advice about well points on this website. My husband and I have very sandy soil on our new property; no rocks that we know of. One neighbor said they struck good water at 28' for their well. We had the choice of 1.25" and 2" well points, and we bought the 2" one from Lehman's.

We dug down with a post hole digger, and then started the well point, keeping it level. We went down a short distance, pounding the cap with a board between it and the sledge hammer. Then progress seemed to slow. We poured several gallons of water in the hole, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, there was still some mud in the hole. We still didn't have much progress, though we had to replace the board periodically, as it would split and splinter. We finally did without the wood buffer, and we dented and started splitting a few caps. These were caps we bought with the 2" pipe. We also bought a nice cap from Lehman's, it was very heavy duty.

Still we weren't seeing much progress. Fractions of an inch. The next weekend we visited our land again, and came during a rainstorm. We estimate that we got 6 inches of rain. So we thought that surely it would be easier. The hole was full of water, around the pipe. And yet we still had the same problem. We finally pulled the well point out. There was no damage to the point. It had some clay clinging to it. No evidence of rocks. Also apparently we had let the heavy duty cap loosen, because when my husband checked, we had stripped the pipe threads. We replaced the pipe, reinserted the well point, and tried again. About 10 good whacks with the sledge would only yield about 1/4 inch of progress. I think we are currently only down about 4-5 feet.

Why are we having such difficulty? It would be easier to dig this well by hand, which we are considering. I would understand, if we were fighting rocky soil.

05-11-2009, 11:34 PM
One word , hardpan maybe ? OK it was two words

05-12-2009, 10:47 PM
Hi, everyone. *We want to get a shallow well on our new land.

I have read Jeff Yago's advice about well points on this website. *My husband and I have very sandy soil on our new property; no rocks that we know of. *One neighbor said they struck good water at 28' for their well. *We had the choice of 1.25" and 2" well points, and we bought the 2" one from Lehman's. *

If you can get electricity out there you might rent an electric jack hammer to do the hammering for you. It's not as much about how hard you whack it as much as it is about how many whacks you get. You'll have to engineer a way to give the jack hammer something to whack on.

however. . . .

We have a hand dug well on our sandy property, about 15' deep, but it only holds about 15 gallons of water before we suck it dry. I'm going to push a well point down another 10 feet or so and just use a hand pump when other sources dry up.

Even with a 15' head start I wouldn't begin to think about driving a 2" point into the ground by hand. Here's why:

An 1 1/4" pipe size is about 1.5" in diameter which gives it a circular surface area of about 1 3/4" and a circumference of 4 3/4" (about). For every foot of pipe you're driving you have over 56 square inches of pipe wall dragging on the side of the 1 3/4" hole you're punching. Hold that thought.

For a 2" pipe you are pushing a circular area of nearly 4" (more than twice as much area) and for every foot of pipe you drive you have 84 sq. inches of pipe wall dragging on the side of the hole.

The moral of the story: It takes approximately one boat load more effort to drive that 2" monster than it will to drive the 1 1/4" size. :o

Note: If you're committed to the 2" pipe, that does give you the advantage of using it as a well casing. You could drop a smaller plastic pipe down the innards of the 2" pipe and you might even find a small enough foot valve to go on the bottom of the plastic pipe, making it a lot easier to pump the well.

One more thing: A neighbor having water at 28 feet doesn't mean much. Is their well spot down in a gully and yours up on a rise? Your results may vary so don't quit at 30' just because you ain't yet wet.

05-12-2009, 11:09 PM
Push it in with a backhoe bucket......... I do that with fence posts.
Maybe you are above the only local boulder?
Did you try moving a few feet?
Do you have the well point that is supposed to be rotated while turned?
Is you well point supposed to be pressed in with pressurized water?

Have you talked with a neighbor about what it took to sink their well?

An over sized metal end cap to hit with the sledge, would protect the pipe especially with a little lead inside.

Maybe use a post driver.

05-13-2009, 07:15 PM
Thanks for the responses.

Flatwater, yeah, I suspect it's just hard-packed clay.

Randall, we do have electricity that we may be able to extend out to the well site. I do regret buying the 2" well point. I figured (after purchasing) that yes, it would be more difficult to drive, but you have pointed out that it will be significantly more difficult. If necessary, we can buy a smaller well point.

ArmySgt, the well point is not made to rotate, and isn't made to require water, except maybe to soften the ground. I like the idea of a post driver, though I don't think it would hit harder than the sledge. It would be easier for me to help my husband, though, since I'm a bad aim with the sledge. The axe handle, as well, has been taking a beating with my misses :-[ but I'm getting better at splitting wood. :-)

I like the idea of the backhoe... Perhaps we could drive our van over the well, place a large hydraulic jack between the pipe and van, and gently jack up the front of the van right on top of the drive point. :D We haven't tried another hole in another spot yet. That is probably the best next step, since we might collapse the screen over the drive point with the van/backhoe idea.

All the literature I've read on well points talk about difficulty/impossibility in rocky soil, but not about any difficulties in sandy soil. I guess I just didn't read enough before jumping into this project. And we may have discovered a rock layer under the sand after all.

I believe the neighbor had his well put in professionally, long ago. But I really want to do this ourselves, for that sense of accomplishment, to save money, and to be more self-sufficient. I appreciate your support.

Thanks for the ideas!

05-14-2009, 12:19 AM
Sally , have you looked into those little drill rigs that use a gas motor. I think the motor slides down two supports then you raise it up and add another shaft. A friend of mine bought one years ago and drilled his own well and made enough to pay him back for it by drilling other wells

05-14-2009, 03:06 PM
Hi, Flatwater. Yes, we saw one of those gasoline rigs advertised in a magazine. We are interested in it, but hesitate to invest $2k without knowing if it will work for us. Does it require water?

It's nice to know that your friend is happy with it. Do you know how deep his well is? It would be nice to find someone nearby with one that we could rent/buy.

We saw another rig online that looked good, but it requires about 100 gallons of water. And I saw a recommendation for a method that uses a cement mixer for power, but the details were very few. I don't know if it requires water or not. The website just wanted me to buy the book.

We have electricity available, and could have propane available. But using water to drill the well is a problem, for us.

I'll mention to my husband that someone is happy with the gas-powered rig. Thanks, Flatwater.

05-22-2009, 10:00 PM
A couple of things to think about....

What are your local conditions? Has it been dry? I know from experience that a clay hardpan can be just like cement when it gets dry.

You might want to look up any available logs for other wells in your area. You can go to your local health department, or check online. I don't know what state you're in, but I believe most states some sort of database like Michigan does: http://wellviewer.rsgis.msu.edu. The well log will list all of the layers of soil and rock that were drilled through, and if you see that other wells in the area have many feet of clay, it may be time to find an alternate method of drilling your well. The logs will also give you an idea if wells in the area produce enough water; shallow wells often run dry.

It may be possible to jet the well in, but you would have to have a source of water, like a large water hauling tank, to do that. We jetted in a temporary well for my Mom once, using an inexpensive wellpoint from TSC and 2" PVC pipe.

A final note, once you do get the well in, make sure you chlorinate it and test it before you use it for drinking, and test it periodically, especially if someone in the family is elderly, an infant, or has a compromised immune system. Sand does not provide much protection for a shallow well, and a heavy rain could drive contaminants into the water you're pumping.

05-27-2009, 08:48 PM
Hi Catalpa, thanks for the excellent suggestion. I see Texas has a TWDB website with some information. Only a couple wells near me, both shallow. I think the site is a work in progress. I don't see any details on layers and such, but I'll keep looking at the site.

I'm planning on using the well to water my garden, mostly. We'll drill a deeper well for drinking/household water.

We finally got back to the land last weekend, after watching both our kids graduate. Alas, we didn't have time to move the well point to a different location and try it again. Too busy fixing storm damage, picking dewberries, and planting trees. We found some wild plums, too. :) I just love our land, it's just what my frazzled soul needs.

08-17-2009, 10:51 PM
YAY!!! We struck WATER!!

We gave up on pounding the well point. My husband took a T-handle post hole digger/auger, removed the handle and put joints of 3/4" galvanized pipe between the digging tip and the T-handle. Works like a champ! Much easier than pounding the well point. We ended up with 18' of galvanized pipe, added to the digger.

We dug down 16 feet and started seeing water. The first 3' is sand, with 13' of clay underneath. Then the water layer is more sand. We have, so far, dug down about 20 feet, and now have over 3' of water in the well. The water looks like chocolate milk, because it's all stirred up.

We will be digging deeper next time we go out to our land. We are using 6" pvc with holes for the lower casing, and without holes above that. The small pitcher pump is having difficulties suctioning up the water, so we will have to buy a larger one that lifts the water. We are so thrilled!!!! Thanks everyone for the thoughts and ideas.

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/gWMHrKJ2GeWWGKXSkW9UrQ?authkey=Gv1sRgCJnhgtDt_d3cl AE&feat=directlink


08-18-2009, 12:39 AM
I think you should patent that idea

08-18-2009, 12:59 PM
LOL, Annabella! We could be millionaires, sitting out on our homestead! :-D Necessity is definitely the mother of invention.

We just added 4' or 5' joints as we went down. We are planning on going a bit deeper, so we will probably substitute 10' pipes for the collection of smaller joints in the pic. Would be less wobbly. We are careful turning the blade, not wanting the thing to self-destruct down in the well, and mostly we turn it in a clockwise direction, so the pipe doesn't start to unscrew.

It's hot, slow work, but it's rewarding to see the loads of mud coming up. We work together to lift it out of the hole, we're getting good at at. It's nice to work together at this homesteading thing. Looks like the second 30 years might be better than the first. :)

08-19-2009, 11:43 AM
Sally, it's wonderful to hear that it's going good for you. Do keep us updated on your progress.


10-12-2009, 08:05 PM
Sally.thanks so much for this great post and sharing your experiences.this will be us soon.I showed my big guy the picture of your hubby and his response is-what a guy! thanks for sharing.rae-dean

11-02-2009, 02:56 PM
Any one have any thoughts about removing a well point that been in the ground for at least 10 yrs aprox 20ft deep this is for a shalllow well. I tried making an a frame out of 2x4s with a 4 ton pulley hanging from a cross beam on the a frame,this broke,so I decided to install a new s/steel well point,using the jack hammer method.I got about 10 ft and in would not move at all it just stopped going down.I split the harden drive caps and strip the threads on the pipe.so now I don,t know what else to do? I was only about 5ft from the orignal hole,so now I am thinking using a post hole digger to pre drill the hole,or if I see water then install the well point and I am done. hamburg mich. thanks steve.

11-02-2009, 03:08 PM
Welcome Steve! Glad you've joined our group.

Hoping someone will be along soon, with experience with those, who can lend a hand.


11-02-2009, 09:01 PM
Hi Steve,

Yes, I would recommend the post hole digger/auger method in your case. It will, at the very least, tell you what you're up against. You should be able to determine immediately if you have hit rock, or if it is just hard clay. You can feel the texture, as you turn the auger by hand, and you can see what you bring up. It was slow going, but it was very satisfying. Be sure to mostly turn it clockwise, but we were able to also turn it both ways in a short, wiggling movement.

It's the cheapest alternative that we could think of, anyway. We are currently using our 20' well, with a pitcher pump, for watering plants. Next summer we want to dig it deeper. We tried a few months ago to deepen it, but the well was too wet, and it was hard to bring up the slushy mud.

The auger drilling method will be difficult to use to extend the well further down, however, since all that galvanized pipe gets heavy. We are thinking about using some kind of tower to help lift the rig, or maybe making a jig that will pivot off of the pickup's ball hitch. I don't know if you could use something like that to pull the old well point out. My husband is wanting a friend to weld a device that could be used for the top of a tower. Three short, large pipes welded together in a tepee shape, and all we would have to do is attach three galvanized pipes for an instant, temporary tower. Plus a device to attach a pulley at the top. Wish we could buy such a thing. We also will have to figure out a way to remove a well point, in order to deepen the well. It might come out relatively easy after sitting for a year, just tugging on the pump and pipe, but it might not.

We are also thinking about digging a second well, near the vegetable garden. We certainly know how to do it now. :)

04-13-2010, 02:15 AM
I have never seen a well driven with less than a 50# drop hammer, I built one that mounted an engine block as a weight. Used 3 2x4x12' lashed into a tripod to hang it.

Water level was 13 ft in a 35 foot well when I moved in and I dropped it to 80 ft with the water at 75 when I left. would have gone another 5 ft but it got hard to drive.

Making a coupling to hook a 1/2 in drill onto an auger is a plan also, trip it (pull up and put back down) with a tripod. 2-3 hours for 35 ft to set the foot valve at 25 if the water stands less than 20 ft down

To pull a point they make several types of clamps or you can clovehitch a chain to the pipe and a timber and then jack the timber up with a bottle jack, I use a 12 ton.

To bail sand and stuff from a well there is a long bucket with a valve on the bottom, drop it in the casing and jig it up 3-4 ft a dozen times then pull and dump it. Repeat until the depth is good to keep the sand out of the cylinder.

Another way is with a couple hundred gallons of water and a good pump. Auger a hole 9-10 ft deep and set the casing on a tripod ready to go with a couple hundred pounds added to the top (I use messengers and pulleys for 50# bags), crank the pump and let it drop. 28 feet in the ground in 2 min. Vacuum the bottom with the suction hose ( careful not to sand plug the pump ) and drive a point 3 ft or so past the bottom of the casing.

Don't forget to grout the top of the casing, let the water in the hole perc, lay a plastic 'form' and fill with ready mix - I don't add water, it will suck water from the ground and the air - but tamp it well and pick up the form. No sharp edges, it will get hard in a week, and there is no mess if a cow walks in it.

04-16-2010, 02:03 PM
Sally: I have to agree with some of the other posters that you have most likely hit hardpan. In our area driving a well point is out of the question. We hit hardpan about 14 feet down. This stuff is so hard I have personally seen sheet piling buckle while being driven with a crane mounted pile driving hammer. If you put water on it the stuff gets so slick it is like oiling it.

One of the folks here suggested an auger. I think this might work, but have someone put some teeth on the cutting blade with hardfacing welding rod. I might also suggest having two blades so the teeth on one travels a different path than the second blade. It will give better results when adding water or what have you to the drilling process.

Good luck, OT

04-16-2010, 06:21 PM
I agree, recoilless_57mm. I remember trying to dig through hard pan. In summer when it dried out, it was like digging through concrete. But after a few months of winter rains a truck would go axle deep in it if you weren't careful were you drove.

So maybe part of the answer is to wait for the rainy season to drill more.