Schedule 80 Pump Pipe
Our pump installations use high-quality American made PVC pipe manufactured by PW Pipe or Jet Stream. Pipe manufacturers have engineered guidelines to follow regarding the maximum setting depth depending on pipe size, flow, setting depth, wire size, and static water level. We follow all guidelines set forth by our pipe manufacturers. To properly size the drop pipe according to flow we use the flow specifications found in the Friction Loss section of Cameron's Hydraulic Data manual. To adapt smaller pipe sizes to a pump with a different sized discharge we use a stainless steel bushing, not a cheap plastic bushing that could crack, fail, and cause the pump to fall into the bottom of the well. We use 1 inch pipe in instances where the pump setting depth is less than 400 feet and pumping flow rate is less than 12 gallons per minute (GPM). 1 1/4 inch pipe is used when the pump flow rate will range between 12 to 25 GPM and 2-inch pipe is used when flow rates exceed 25 GPM up to 60 GPM. For domestic use when well yields allow our rule of thumb is to set the pump in 100 feet of water. In instances where pump flows will be greater than 20 GPM then our setting depth will vary depending on whether a known accurate well yield can be determined from a reliable source. In some cases, the setting depth could be more than 100 feet in the water.
When installing for flows less than 20 GPM in cases where the well has a yield greater than twice the flow of the pump it is never necessary to set the pump deeper than 100 feet in the water. Setting pumps over 100 feet in the water is a shrewd tactic, and is often used by pump installers trying to increase profits. But this practice adds little if any value to your water system. If the pump fails and has to be pulled for repair or replaced then the excessive setting depth only adds more unnecessary cost to the repair. As we stated earlier, the DNR Certification process and reporting procedures are done using the honor system. What we have found from our experience is that most drillers will not go to the trouble to actually do an accurate yield test or static water level measurement. The yield test requires diversion adapter or the need to build a catch basin to allow the water to be contained then allowing it to flow thru a large pipe. A stopwatch is then used to measure the time it takes to fill a container (usually a 1-gallon bucket). Calculations are then done resulting in an educated and accurate flow determination. Failing to follow this procedure results in a "best guess" yield which is seldom accurate. When this happens, sometimes the yields are over reported resulting in pumps being installed that out pump the actual yield of the well. In cases where flows are greater than 20 GPM or well yields cannot be verified then contractors are forced to use the trial by error method. Using this method may make it necessary to set the pump deeper in water than 100 feet. Knowing an accurate static water level is crucial to proper pump sizing in both new installations and repairs. Both your driller and pump installer need to have the proper equipment to accurately measure the static water level after the well is drilled. Because water levels fluctuate a pump repair contractor would also need to be equipped with a water level indicator to verify changing water levels that occur over the lifespan of the well. This information is needed to determine the proper setting depth of the pump. While these instruments are very expensive they are a valuable tool needed to correctly size the pump. Sometimes contractors use voodoo to determine water levels by dropping rocks into the well. Novice repairmen try to guess the water level based on stain lines found on drop pipe they are pulling. In both cases, no respect is given to quality assurance and the depth reported is usually far from accurate. When this happens, pump horsepower and flow rate can be incorrectly sized causing the pump to under or over pump for the actual conditions. As our customer, we want you to know that we don't use voodoo and guesswork when determining your well yield, water level, or pump size. Our sizing determinations rely on the knowledge gained from proper education based on the factual and true characteristics of your well, pump, and pipe size.
Pump wire comes in various forms. It can be a solid core wire twisted together, stranded core wire that comes in a flat, ribbon -style or jacketed for extra protection against abrasion. In most all cases the wells we construct are equipped with a liner so abrasion isn't an issue. Solid core twisted cable is not only susceptible to abrasion; it also is susceptible to kinking. If kinked, the conductor and insulation can become damaged from wear hardening. This can cause damage to both the conductor and the insulation resulting in wire failure. We use the flat ribbon style with stranded conductors. When properly installed it lays flat against the pipe and is secured with Scotch 3M Super 33 plus electrical tape. At intervals of 100 feet or so the wire is half hitched with the tape preventing it from sliding down into the well. The wire is properly sized using our motor manufacturer's specifications. All of our wire also includes a color coded green conductor that is dedicated to properly grounding the motor. Some Franklin Electric motors have a patented lightning arrester built in and others use an aftermarket lightning arrester from Square D. The motor must be properly bonded to the ground of the electrical grid, for lightning protection of any kind. Some contractors ignore proper grounding techniques which can lead to safety issues and also degrade the surge protection capabilities of all lightning protection systems.
The drop pipe is threaded and is coupled together using threaded couplings. For smaller horsepower systems we use PW Pipe Schedule 80 PVC couplings. These are rated by the manufacturer according to setting depth and horsepower size. If the setting depth becomes too far or the horsepower size becomes too large then metal couplings are required. The least expensive metal coupling is an ordinary galvanized coupling that is protected from corrosion below the water level by wrapping with heavy mil PVC pipe wrap. The wrap seals the coupling away from the water and prevents oxidation that leads to corrosion and failure of the coupling. We have used this method for over 20 years and have never had a coupling fail from corrosion. Other metal couplings such as brass and stainless steel are available and can be used for usually triple the cost associated with galvanized. Our practice is to give the customer their options and costs and let them decide.
At least one check valve is required in every pump installation. Pumps with smaller flows usually are supplied with a check valve built into the pump. While these check valves are very reliable it only takes a small piece of sediment, rust, or a chip off of an impeller to foul the check valve and render it inoperable. Most pump manufacturers recommend placing a check valve every 100 feet of setting depth. We recommend at least one aftermarket check valve to serve as a back-up to the factory installed check valve. The use of a second check valve adds a small expense to the overall cost of your water system but the cost of the check valve is a fraction of the cost needed to pull and repair a pump that was set with only one check valve. We use only FloMatic brand check valves. FloMatic check valves are available in lead-free brass as well as stainless steel. They are a spring loaded check valve with the heaviest spring available. The actual plunger is made of durable wear-proof plastic that will not restrict the flow thru the valve. There are less expensive check valves available from Simmons and Merrill but they are built using a much lighter spring and brass plungers that are vulnerable to wear and premature failure.
In installations where a well house is not used and to avoid problems due to freezing at the well head, it will be necessary to exit the well underground using a pitless adapter for the transition from inside the well to the water line outside the well. This allows the pump pipe and water line to exit the well underground below frost level in a sanitary manner. Again we have chosen an American manufacturer, Campbell Manufacturing, as our source for this product. These pitless adapters are made using high-quality lead-free brass. Comparably speaking, they are 30% heavier than their import counterparts. They are built with strength in mind which is a good idea for this component. If the pitless adapter fails, the pump, pipe, and wire in the well could fall to the bottom of the well making it necessary to attempt to "fish" the string of pipe and wire from the well. While it is possible to be successful doing this, it is also possible that the pipe string and the pump may not be able to be retrieved resulting in the need to totally replace not only the pump, pipe, and wire but also the well itself. This is another example of why spending a few extra dollars to start with could save thousands of dollars down the road.
PW Pipe and Jet Stream are the main suppliers of our schedule 40 PVC water line. The pipe is welded together using PVC solvent. Again we size our pipe correctly based on the actual flow thru the pipe. Flow parameters for our water line are basically the same as for our Schedule 80 drop pipe. When unusually long runs or systems with excessive amounts of elbows are necessitated then upgrading to the next available size may be done to reduce friction loss. Our pipe is sized using knowledge based on our education, not guesswork due to a lack of education. Properly sizing of the pipe will ensure efficient operation of the pump as well as ensure efficient operating cost effectiveness. In installations where water line has to be installed under a cement pad, we recommend using Service Blue pipe which comes in continuous lengths up to 500 feet. This pipe is the most durable pipe for this type of installation. To make potential repairs or changes under the cement, we install a larger conduit before the cement is poured and then the proper size water line can be installed through the conduit once the cement pad is in place.
Captive Air Pressure Tanks
Although not new to the industry, the captive air tank is the most modern innovation when it comes to pressure tanks. The air and water in a pressure tank are separated with the water being contained in a flexible rubber vessel while the air is contained inside the tank but outside of the water vessel. In theory, if the air stays separated from the water then the air should remain trapped in the tank permanently, making the tank operate with minimal maintenance. If the tank is sized properly according to the actual flow of the tank then the tank should last several years beyond the warranty period. One of the biggest mistakes other contractors make is under-sizing the pressure tank. In most instances, the pump installed in a well for domestic purposes is a 10 GPM pump. The minimum tank size for a 10 GPM pump is a 35 gallon. Most other contractors offer, as a first choice, a 20-gallon tank which is the correct size for a 5 GPM pump. Installing too small of a tank leads to premature pump, pressure tank, and component failure. We use tanks manufactured by Flex-Con. They are made from either a "fiber wound" fiberglass shell (same material as the shell of the Stealth Bomber) with a plastic liner or a steel shell with a plastic liner. The fiber wound tank is considerably less expensive than the steel tank. They are guaranteed for five years but setting the pre-charge correctly in relationship to the cut-in and cut-out values of the pressure switch should make the tank reliable for 15 years or more. Occasionally checking the tank pre-charge air pressure and adjusting as needed will ensure increased life span of your pressure tank. Our tanks come in a variety of sizes based on the actual volume of the tank. The tank sizes are 22, 35, 51, 65, 82, and 119 gallons. The drawdown of the tank at a 30/50 pressure setting is approximately 1/3 of the actual tank volume.
Tank Accessory Kit
The tank accessory kit includes all components needed to finish the installation at the tank. These parts complete the transition between the water/plumbing side of the install and the electrical side of the install. Included in this is a 40/60 Square D pressure switch, Campbell brand pressure gauge, brass ball valve for new home installations or PVC ball valves for all other installations, a hose bib for garden hose access to be used as a low-point drain, and a PVC union to allow for easy pressure tank maintenance or replacement. While the union and hose bib are not a necessity to have running water, they do make eventual maintenance and repairs much easier if they are installed initially.
The charge for fittings covers all miscellaneous fittings needed to complete the water system installation. For our PVC fittings, we use solvent welded schedule 40 PVC fittings underground, above ground, and in the basement. We use brass fittings and schedule 80 PVC fittings to make the transition link between the brass and plastic as strong as possible for the transition from brass to PVC. Our frost-free bury hydrants are also installed using only brass and schedule 80 fittings for maintenance-free hydrant installations.
Frost Free Hydrants
We use only Woodford brand frost-free bury hydrants. They are manufactured in Colorado Springs, Colorado using only American made components. The same hydrants that Woodford made 50 years ago will interchange with the same hydrant parts manufactured today. They operate using a simple design that makes them easy to operate and maintain. They are simply the best hydrant available on the market today.
The buried wire that connects from the well to the pressure switch or controls is either type UF wire made for direct burial or for larger wire sizes we may use flat pump wire, the same as is used in the well. This pump wire is not designed to be used for direct burial. It is sized properly according to Franklin Electric's specifications. What separates us from all of our competition is that we protect all the buried wire we install by installing it in genuine gray PVC electrical conduit every inch it is buried. Where fittings are needed we use the proper electrical conduit fittings such as long sweeping 90 and 45-degree elbows, terminal adapters, and LB's. We do not make it a practice to use water and sewer fittings in our electrical conduit installations. When we are done, it will always be possible to pull new wire thru the conduit whether it be for replacement due to defect or the need for a larger wire size. It seems foolish to us to install wire without conduit OR in conduit and use water fittings that make it impossible to pull a new wire thru. This is another reason we believe you are truly getting what you pay for when you hire us.
Line Digging and Backfilling
This covers the cost incurred for digging the water line.
These are used normally on older wells or when a modern well is constructed without a liner. They are expandable up to the diameter of the borehole and are used to hold the pump, pipe, and wire centered in the "hole" to prevent damage from abrasion. They are made from rubber and secured to the drop pipe using stainless steel hose clamps. They are merely just a Band-Aid to be used on a well that was constructed using obsolete or substandard drilling methods. In some cases, we have seen them used when a liner is installed, but they are generally not needed when a liner is present in the well. When a liner is used, problems from abrasion are nearly non-existent. Experience shows that torque arrestors have a tendency to rub enough that they wear apart or the clamps fail. When this happens they can cause the pump, pipe, and wire to become lodged in the borehole. If the pipe being used is plastic, it almost always makes it impossible to pull hard enough on the plastic to dislodge the pump without breaking the drop pipe. With this being the case, it only makes sense to do the job right the first time and install a liner when the well is constructed.
Romex wire is used to send power from the breaker to the pump.
Breaker and Disconnect
The pump circuit should always be protected from shorts using a circuit breaker of some kind. We use modern breakers in all of our new installations. We will NEVER bypass a circuit breaker or fuse of any kind to force a water system to work. To do this is not safe and is an irresponsible act that puts not only the customer's life and property in danger but also places anyone who comes in contact with the unprotected circuit in danger as well. In repairs of older, obsolete systems, if an old "fuse" system is used, we recommend upgrading to a newer, safer breaker type system. We carry both indoor and outdoor breaker boxes on our trucks and we also carry most brands of modern breakers up to 60 amp capacity including Square D-QO, Square D-Homeline, General Electric, and Cutler Hammer. We carry a full line of older screw-in fuses when finances make it impossible to upgrade to a modern circuit breaker system. Bottom line is, if you need it, it is probably stocked on our truck.