Well, well, well. Well water…
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Water. When you live in the city, you take it for granted. You have an account, you pay your bills, you have clean water. Sure, it sometimes may have a chlorine smell/taste to it, but it’s safe. You may decide to drink bottled water cuz tap water just seems ‘gross’. But…..there’s water. Clean, usable water. I never knew how much I took municipal water for granted. If I wanted to take a shower, wash dishes, do laundry, or give my animals a drink, it was there. Now, being an owner of a well? Wow, it puts the whole water issue into perspective.
When we were going through the whole house purchasing ‘thing’, inspections were made. There were plumbing issues. It seems they didn’t winterize the property until March, even though it had been on the market since October. January had been one of the coldest months out here, so I’ve heard. So, there was a split in a pipe between the well & the 1st shut-off valve in the basement wall. The 2nd shut-off valve, in the house, had also broken. Both due to freezing. Well, because of these two plumbing breaks, the well couldn’t be tested. The company fixed those two breaks before we closed (thank goodness because it’s $350 we didn’t have to spend), but it was 2 days before closing, and there was no time left to have the well inspected. We decided we’d do the water testing ourselves, and hope for the best with the ground pipes. The inspector had done an air pressure test, and since it kept the psi, we were relatively sure there were no other pipe breaks.
When we moved in, there was water all over the laundry room. The laundry room not only houses the hot water heater, washer & dryer, it also is where well pump relay and pressure tank live. Do those things sound foreign to you? Well, I sure as hell didn’t know what they were at the time! Anyway, it looked as though it might have been there from the plumbing ‘fix’, and was slowly evaporating. We put a fan on it, opened the window, and decided to give it a day or two.
Now, since the well water hadn’t been tested, and there was a good chance it could have anything from lead, to pesticides, bacteria, or nitrates in it. I didn’t let anyone use the water for consumption until the tests were complete. We used bottle water for us & the animals, and for brushing our teeth. I’m paranoid like that. 😉 Good thing, too. On the day after that horrible storm, our third day here, the mice babies that were thriving were getting very sick. I tested the water, and all seemed OK (nitrates, nitrites, lead, mercury, pesticides, chlorine, PH, etc). However, the bacteria test takes 48 hrs and wasn’t done yet, and that’s what we were thinking were making the mice sick. We were feeding them milk, but it didn’t occur to us that washing the syringe with tap water would have been a problem. Live & learn.
On our fourth day, the bacteria test water turned blue. Positive for coliform. The water was iridescent under a black light. Positive with e. coli. Well, shit! Time to research our options. But of course, we didn’t have internet. It was gonna have to wait. Ugh. Meanwhile, the baby mice started to die.
During the time of the water testing, we still had plumbing issues. The basement floor in the laundry room was mostly dry, but you could see it had some fresh too, which meant a leak somewhere. We didn’t have a lot of water pressure. It wasn’t bad, but the shower wasn’t strong enough to rinse my three feet of hair. Also, our hot water disappeared A lot of stuff at once. We took it one at a time.
Water leak. After mopping, wrapping, and checking, I found that one of the water filters were leaking along the gasket. There are three filters that remove sediment & chemicals from the water. This is a good thing, especially since the water is orangy. They run parallel, not in series, which to this date, we don’t understand. So, we removed the housings, put in new filters in two of them (the third was a different type and we didn’t have a tool for it). We turned the one that was leaking off. Okee. So we thought….
Water heater. I turned the house breaker off, and reset the inner breaker of the hot water heater. Hmmm…why did it trip? I turned the house breaker back on, and we had hot water again. OK. However, the next day, I had to do the same thing again, and the next, and the next…. Hmmm.
Meanwhile we lost almost all water pressure. It was a trickle. We were going insane trying to figure it out. We knew nothing about well pumps and pressure tanks. Oi! We lived with it, what could we do? We were going to Greeley that weekend to work on the old house. We kept the internet there for a while, so I researched & researched. I learned alot about pumps, wells, and pressure tanks. I learned how to ‘hopefully’ get rid of bacteria, and what the cause could be. I learned how to adjust the water pressure on the pump relay (that didn’t fix our problem), I learned how to test the pressure tank to see if it was broken (nope, it was fine). Troubleshooting came up with we must have a clog in our pipe somewhere. There is so much sediment, it’s understandable. I mean, when I did the chlorine flushes, I had to run the water alot, and it was VERY orange at times. Yuk. Sometimes, it was grey. Ugh. And yes, that’s with all three new filters in (we finally got the third changed, thinking it might be a clogged filter giving us no pressure – it wasn’t). We were at a loss. Couldn’t figure the damn thing out.
When we had gotten back from Greeley, after going to the store to get pool (chlorine) tabs, we set to work flushing the well to get rid of the bacteria. Unfortunately without water pressure in the house, it wasn’t gonna work, as there was no way to ‘flush’ it out. Doh! Finally though, after 4 weeks, three chlorine flushes, and two more bacteria tests, our water is coliform & e. coli free (for now).
We also didn’t have hot water again when we returned from the weekend. This time after resetting it, when I flipped the breaker, I went down to the laundry room and I heard a “ZZzzzttttt”. Well that didn’t sound good. I looked, and there was water leaking out of the control panels on the hot water heater. DEFINITELY not good. So, it seemed like the hot water heater had a leak inside it, and was shorting it out. Problem solved, but that means we needed a new hot water heater. Crap! We turned the hot water heater off, tried to shut the water valve to the hot water heater off to remove the thing, and it wouldn’t budge. After alot of WD-40, a screwdriver & a wrench, we got the spigot valve to turn off….only to notice it leaks because it’s so corroded. One more thing to replace. Anywho, after another week, $350, and alot of swearing, we got a brand new 55 gal hot water heater installed. Yay, hot water!
…but still no pressure. One day I went down to the laundry room & stared. We’d been without water for over 3 weeks.
We needed to wash dishes, do laundry, take a shower! So I stared. Twenty minutes later, with some deductive reasoning and I figured it out. Looking at the lines, I was trying to figure out where the clog must be. It had to be before the hot water heater becasue it took two days to finally fill up (drip, drip, drip into the tank). It had to be after the shut-off, cuz I could hear the pressure in the line when I shut it off & turned it on. What was between the two? Another broken valve and the……filters! The filter line. So, I turned off the filter that we turned on. No water in the faucet. I turned it back on, a trickle. I turned on the filter that was leaking. BINGO – we had water. The filters ran in parallel. The filter that was leaking had a clear pipe. The filter line that didn’t was clogged, ergo little pressure. I got soaked, but I took apart the housings, cleaned the o-rings & put ’em back together. No leak. Damn. The filters were nasty already, and they are 3 month filters….it had been only 3 weeks, but I changed them while I had them apart anyway.The one filter line is still clogged, and the piping that runs to the downstairs bathroom is clogged somewhere too. We have plans to re-run those lines when we fix the broken hot water heater shut-off valve and the washer & dryer spigots that also leak…Labor Day weekend is plumbing weekend for us.
OMG, it was four weeks without water. It was hell. We learned how to survive, tho. We boought water for drinking. We collected rain water for the animals to drink. Hubby filled up water jugs at work for water to cook with & brush our teeth with. Hubby got to take showers at work. Me and the kids took showers every weekend when we went up to the old house. Our clothes & dishes were stacking up, but we did it. Thankfully we were able to fix it without having to call in a $500 plumber! We still have alot of issues, like alot sediment still in our water, but, they seem trivial to having no water at all!