My Well Project

The Challenge
We have 2 acres in Poway and most of it was weeds when we bought it. We knew we wanted to fence it off for our 2 horses which we brought down from Seattle. Once fenced off, we wanted some sort of 'pasture' as opposed to dirt. This picture was taken in August, 1997 shortly after we moved in.

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The Well
I had a well drilled in the November of 1997. I worked with Orin Davis of Butler Drilling to get an understanding of what was involved. He provided the best quote and all were consistent in the way they presented the per foot rates, with no guarantees of how deep the water would be. Our neighbors had told us they had water at 100 feet. Butler Drilling backed in their rig up to the corner of the property and in order to get a perpendicular hole, had to block up the front of the drilling rig 6 feet. Company had to go to 425 feet to get meaningful water and ended up providing an artesian well, which means the source of water is higher than the well head and no pumping is required to get about 5 gallons per minute. Since we were only anticipating drilling a hundred feet or so, the additional cost put my project on hold for a while. 'A while' became several years. I called Orin and asked that he get me going again when he had a chance, but since it was the rainy season, it wasn't a high priority.

The Tank
Late in 2000, Orin called with a bargain on a 3,000 gallon water tank. The people had bought it as a Y2K contigency. So I checked it out, made the deal and picked it up the next day. I used my boat trailer to haul it home. Worked pretty slick. I backed the rig up to the top of the hill where I wanted to stage the tank. My idea was to tie the top of the tank to the fence post and just pull out from underneath. However, the tank had other ideas. It rolled to the right, ending up laying on it's side. I managed to tip it up at an angle, securing it to fence post on three sides, but ran out of daylight. I took most of Monday off to finish raising the tank. Thanks to my Yukon as the third hand while I used block and tackle to hoist the tank upright.

The next weekend was devoted to getting it into position. I leveled an area in the corner, filled it with sand and positioned a 2x10 over the middle of the hole. Again, using block and tackle, I pulled the tank over the hole. Then Leveraging it on one side, I pulled out the 2x10 and the tank was in position.

The next phase was installing the input to the tank and figuring out a shutoff. I surfed the net and eventually found a PVC ball cock. I drilled a hole near the top for the 'fill' and put the ball cock on the inside to shut the flow of water when it was full. I ran 2" PVC in a trench down to the house to get ready for the next phase of adding the pump.

The Pump and Pressure Tank
I contacted Orin again to help figure out what size pump and pressure tank to get. After determining the pressure and number of stations, he quoted me a price for what was needed and I gave him the OK. A week later he delivered the items and provided a rough sketch of how everything should be put together. Fortunately he included 'couplers', which will really help out if I ever have to do maintenance on the components. In addition he indicated a back flow valve, which I really didn't know existed. I figured out they have the same thing in PVC, and was able to solve a problem I have had with my yard sprinkler system.

Electrical Hookup
I had an electrician wire the pump with 220 and add a 110 outlet for the Sprinkler timer. I also had a breaker panel installed so I wouldn't have to go back up to the other side of the house to turn the power off and on. The 220 goes from the panel to the switch, then to the pump. The pressure switch has a spring to regulate the pressure. Out of the box, the pressure switch starts the pump at 40 pounds and shut off above 60 pounds

Main Line
Water from the well gravity feeds the 3,000 gallon tank. I ran 2" PVC pipe through a shut off valve near the tank, all the way down to the house, a distance of 200 feet. I put in an additional shut off valve in a box in case I had to work on the galvanized pipe sections feeding the pump. I also got tired of going up the hill every time I wanted to work on the leaks in the 2" feeder pipe.

Sprinklers and Faucets
I used 1-1/4" PVC Sched 40 for all the lines, hooked up to 1" anti-siphon valves and 3/4" pop-up rainbird sprinklers. Initially, I hooked up one rainbird sprinkler to see how the pressure held up going through 100 feet of 1-1/4" pipe. With one sprinkler hooked up, the pressure was great, water reaching across the coral, roughly 40 feet. I added a second with very little impact on the first and great coverage for the upper corral. I plan to plant a tree near the 3,000 gallon tank, so I put a sprinkler head in the corner. This line will take one more Rainbird below the barn.

I added a separate line for general water use, like for the horses water, horse wash down. I also wanted water at the north end of the corral, in case there was ever a fire in the open property above us, even though the 3,000 gallon tank is there, there is only 15 pounds of pressure. So I ran another line that would feed general water use adding a back flow preventer. The line would split in three directions, one for the upper corral, one across to the east side and one on the west side.

The next phase was to tackle the sprinklers on the east side of the corrals. On May 25, I had Bernardo, a Mexican helper, dig a trench across the corral and I left work early to help. Terry put the horses in the lower corral while he did the work . I wanted to finish this aspect, filling in the ditch so we could let the horses back in the same day. When I got home around 1:30, he had the trench done other than several really hard spots - 'duro' as Bernardo called them. While he worked on the hard spots, I connected 3 lines of 120 feet each and the faucet configuration to have them ready when the ditch was done. One line was for the faucet and the other two were for sprinkler lines. Once the trench was ready, we rolled the pipe in, adjusted the position and filled the trench back in. We were done by 4:00pm. I hooked up one rainbird and the faucet.

On May 26th, Bernardo brought Rofino with him and I had them work on the trench on the East side, periodically having them help out on other aspects. First I hooked up the timer. Next, I had Rofino widened the opening at the pump, so I could add the 6 anti-siphon valves.  

I re-visited my leaks in the galvanized pipe. I thought I would try Teflon tape. I took connection apart, unless I was positive it was not leaking. I cleaned the threads and wrapped them with Teflon tape. I hooked everything back up, carefully masking sure all coupler joints lined up before I tightened the fittings. When I was done, I turned on the water and it leaked more than it ever had. Ugh! One more time! I took everything apart, used the plumber goop and re-assembled it all. I decided not to turn on the water until the next day. I hooked up the anti-siphon valve assembly, leaving room for the general use line. After the Mexicans left I ran more PVC pipe up the hill. It started to rain, mostly drizzle.

For the upper corral I ran pipe back up the hill specifically for the pressurized water. The dirt was really hard, so I installed the faucet in a temporary location until I can get my diggers up in that area.