Finally broke down and had Brad Swanson, a neighbor at Eureka Well Repair out to consult on my pump problems.
The immediate fix was pretty easy--turn the pressure back to 40/20, re-fuse the whole works and let the well pump under less stress. I had turned it up to 45/25 hoping to get a spray from the shower instead of a drizzle.
The water tank should be replaced as it gets "waterlogged" with the air leak and soon fills up totally with water and messes up the pressure and pump starting up. The old large tank needed for a farm could be replaced by a 20 gallon one with a rubber bladder inside to keep from getting waterlogged.
The leaking seals in the top are, as he explained to me, some leathers in an above the pipe pressure chamber that is leaking, and could be replaced. Then we would have a working system.
I told him that I though the well system was pulled up about 15 years ago by a Brust. "Well, I took over Brust's business. He died in 1988, so it was likely sometime before that--maybe 20 years ago."
The whole system is not up to any modern code, but could all be repaired. I asked him about the replacement options to get a more modern system.
"The cylinder at the bottom of the 90 foot well has leathers that wear out. The rod inside the pipe can wear holes in the pipe. 20 years on a system like this is pretty good, and you should think about an upgrade when the weather improves."
"Well," he said thinking about it for a while, "we would need to pull the old well pipes, extend the 4-inch well casing higher above ground and test the water drawing capacity in the current casing." If it pumped enough with a submersible pump, we could just hook that up with a new tank, pump, tubing, power, etc. Probably looking at $2500 for a full new setup."
He went on to say, "As the well has a 4 inch casing rather than a 6 inch one, we can't deepen it if that would be needed, and a new well would need to be drilled -- about a day's effort here at 100 feet deep. That costs $32/foot. You would need to run an underground power line to the house and put the tank in the basement." Probably around $6000."
The current fix will get us through until summer, and then we will see if Margo scrimps on her hair cuts, medications, and gadding about, if we can scrape up the money.
I asked Brad who his father was -- as it appeared his father might be about my age. Reuben Swanson. Turns out we know him from a couple of years of the Eureka Farmer's Market where he sold birdhouses and we sold maple syrup.
I took a drizzle shower this morning after he left, and it was OK but not great. I suppose I might go to drycleaning fluid instead.
There is no end to the lurking problems on an old farm. Problem is that unless Margo goes back to work, a few thousand here and a few thousand there (roofs, furnaces, pumps...) and pretty soon we will be down the drain too.
Brad Swanson of Eureka Pump Repair came exactly at 8:00 AM on the day he promised and spent the time I wanted getting me functional and discussing the possibilities for the future. The cost for the service call was $75 and well worth it. I can think about the next step not under pressure. Water is an ignored utility until something goes wrong.