I'm in Standing Column Well Hell - need help

Discussion in 'Standing Column Well (SCW)' started by geochallenged, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. geochallenged

    geochallenged New Member

    The pump is at 160' and the return is at 480' with a ubend releasing the water upward. I can only pump out to the level of the pump right?
  2. geochallenged

    geochallenged New Member

    Here is a photo:

  3. geochallenged

    geochallenged New Member

    More photos
    PC200538.jpg PC200540.jpg PC200539.jpg
  4. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Yes, you can only pump out water from the location of the pump. 160' if they measured correctly.

    The pictures help, but as I see it the near machine piping is reduced in size. The filters being in series using what looks like 1" pipe should make it impossible for the big machine to run at all. No wonder you have issues with freezing and constant filter cleanings.

    Get the filters out of the system and run a few days with the silt/sand stuff running free and see how the system acts. At 6 years old and with tax credits until 2016, so far, a bit of wear on the heat exchange is not an issue if we can get you happy and comfortable. The more I see and learn about this system the more I feel your pain. Perhaps the previous owner thought that all this daily work was SOP.

    Do you have any clue as to why there are two bladder expansion tanks? One for the house and one for the heat pump? One for each heat pump?

    In the stand alone single picture I noticed that part of the coil looks blocked off with something and foil tape. If that is the case the machine is struggling for air flow. Air flow is another issue that could be compounding the water issue. I am not sure what the clear things are, but my guess is they have a very high CV, which means the flow to the heat pump is further restricted.

    I know the folks that make all these heat pumps have their heads up the back of their pants when it comes to water flow, and most of the time to air flow. A five ton heat pump needs between 1.5 and 3 GPM per nominal ton. They provide 1" npt fittings on the heat pump when they need at least 1 1/4" piping to move their flow, on a 5 ton unit. I do not get why they do this. The only thing one can do about this is increase the pipe size to the bigger size as soon as possible, and buy a bigger pump. I am a free thinker so I like to give them the 3 GPM per ton. We know where the well pump is but do we know what it is? Is the pump able to provide 7 tons times 3 GPM at a depth of of 160' in a 500' well and have some work left over for the domestic water needs?

    Keep sending photos, worth a thousand words each.

    Here is what I know pending your reading and reporting the size of the pipe plumbed to the filters:

    1. You do not have enough water flow to the 5-ton machine.

    2. The filters make it worse.

    3. The more that the well pump works to over come the poor piping the more it stirs up the well. That is why folks are saying bleed the return line.

    4. You may own the biggest well pump in the Carolinas.

    5. For about half of what you have spent I can drive down and fix this for good and forever.

    I applaude your efforts and will strive to bring you a comfortable low maintenance system. BTW I raised all of my children, (all female) to attain your level.

    Warm and soon to be cooling regards,

    Last edited: Apr 6, 2013
  5. geochallenged

    geochallenged New Member

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for your kind note. I'm trying to understand this but I feel like I need Holmes on Homes here at this Money Pit!

    The two cartridge filters in series only deal with the household supply. The spin down handles the geothermal. Originally the filters were in series PRIOR to the split of household and Geo units and they strangled both. They then put the spin down on the geo and the cartridge on the household post split. I don't know why there are two bladder tanks but they are in series and the water splits after these. The clear things on the wall near the geo units are pressure gauges that were recently installed so I could be able to know what was flowing through each system. I believe they are sized appropriately for the required flow rate. I needed these to help me troubleshoot and balance the flow through both systems. Since I had no way of knowing how much water was flowing through someone suggested that. It has helped me know when the systems are being starved and to see what happens when both units are running vs. one. Did I mention the small unit has a SERIOUS water hammer happening? I bought a TACO solenoid but haven't had it installed yet hoping that would fix the hammer that wakes me up every time that unit shuts off. I'm being starved of sleep!

    The pump tag photo is here.

    I'd be happy to have your expertise to solve this thing let me know what you would charge. I guess I'm not convinced that the SCW can really be made workable for this geology. That said, the bids I have gotten to take this system to Closed Loop are pretty expensive and I'm not convinced they can design that system any better. Let's say I've lost my faith in their abilities.

    I know there are other issues with airflow in the system as well. I stopped all zoning to see if that would help but I'm sure there are still problems.

    I'm upset that I am paying professionals and it is all guesswork as far as I can tell and it is costing me way too much money without any results. IMAG0336.jpg
  6. geochallenged

    geochallenged New Member

    More photos PC200536.jpg PC200537.jpg PC200535.jpg
  7. geochallenged

    geochallenged New Member

    BTW, I'd like to know what is the equation to calculate the ability of the pump to give me the water I need. When they suggested moving the pump from 300' to 160' and putting the return line to the bottom of the well no calculations were made. It was just a "let's try this and see if it helps" experiment. I'm assuming the pump being up higher makes it easier on the pump but the units do sound noisier since that change to the system.

    I haven't had problems delivering water yet except when the filter is clogged..........and if my pressure gauges are accurate each system is getting approximately 1.5 gmp/ton when both are on and when only one is on they are getting much more than that (like 3gpm/ton on the 5 ton unit when it is on alone and 5gpm/ton on the 2 ton unit when on alone).
  8. Calladrilling

    Calladrilling Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I am sure it was already written before, but I do not feel like looking through miles of posts. What's the static and pumping water levels?
    the pump you have installed is a 1hp 20 GPM which is typically not set to pump below 120' water level.
    Setting that pump outside of its pump curve is doing no help at all, and will not pump enough water to satisfy the geo either.
    The reason for the 2 tanks is to have a large amount of storage and help prevent the well from short cycling. That is not uncommon for open loop systems.
    The spin down filter also should be vertical so the sediment settles to the bottom of the cartridge and allow the water to truly spin down. The way it is now the water will spin and unsettle the sediment every time it runs.
    This is not the answer to your problems, but a sign that maybe your geo/well guys are just guessing.
  9. geochallenged

    geochallenged New Member

    Below is the full well report with names edited out of it for privacy. I think it has that info. The pump is currently located at 160'. IT was at 300' when the camera was put down the well but was since moved to 160' and the return line moved to the bottom of the well as an experiment to see if that helped with the sediment issues. The spin down filter has been changed to be vertical and it is now a Lakos Twist2Clean model.

    Here is the well report:
    Job Site: Water supply well at the top of the driveway near the house.

    Location: Raleigh, NC
    On November 21st , we discussed the water quality. Rock grit, sand and sediment is quickly clogging water filters and shutting down the geothermal heating and cooling system. She told me of several other contractors that have worked with the filter system and/or the well. We planned to insert an underwater video camera down inside the well. Customer contacted all involved parties and requested they attend the well video either on December 13th or 17th depending on weather and conditions.
    On December 17, 2012, we opened the well seal and inserted an underwater color video camera. We inspected this well from the top down to the pump at about 300’, with the pump in place and quiet. Next, the pump was turned on and we continued to observe with the downhole camera. During pumping we located the first major water at 91’

    Observations: During the downhole inspection we pumped the well open flow at the well head for about one and one-half hours. With our underwater camera positioned just above the pump, we watched this well produce water. Water feeding down to the pump was very turbid. After about 25 minutes of pumping we turned off the pump and observed water refill the well. Water coming up past the pump was very turbid. We then continued the pumping test.
    Rock borehole walls inside this well are shedding sediment and causing the water quality problems. During times of heavy water usage the well goes into cascade and releases sediment from the borehole walls because of physical and chemical abrasion. When the water level is lowered, this well begins to cascade. Abrasive physical forces are created at the well water level interface during cascade. When the pump is turned off and the water level begins to rise the interface forces are increased. Information from the data tag attached to this well lists the total depth as 500’ and yield as 20 GPM. The pump is set at about 300’deep. With 200’ of space below the pump and up-flow from deep veins, sand and grit are not flushing from this well but accumulating to a maximum level and clogging the filters. Geothermal water returned to the well is creating its own addition to the filter clogging problem. Warm water is cascading back down into the well and bringing air gasses back down into the borehole. A slight slime bacteria growth is generating a powdery look inside the borehole. This growth is not out of control and the constant return of gallons of water to the well from the geothermal unit is helping to flush microbial growth and prevent excessive accumulation of slime inside the well. However, excessive air gasses are acting to soften and release sand and rock grit from the borehole walls. With the pump placement and dynamics that have hydraulic control of the flow; this well has accumulated a river of sand and grit. Fine sediment seems to originate at the top and fall to the bottom and continuously be reenergized back upward from the deep water veins forcefully flowing up to the pump as the pump cycles on and off to meet its demands.
    Changes to flow conditions inside this well can control the physical and chemical attack on the borehole walls and metal well casing. Setting an inflatable packer inside the well at 89.5’ (measured down from the top of casing), can seal below the metal casing and prevent drawdown and maximize yield by placing the system under vaccuume. The packer sits just above the pump on the pipe string. Inflating the packer seals the pump inside the well. Sitting it shallow positions the pump above heavy pieces of sediment falling down the well. Refer to the Inflatable Packer as flow control option one.
    Flow control option two requires permenant installation of 4” PVC well pipe. PVC pipe is installed to within 10’ of the bottom with a rubber shale trap at 89.5’. Grout cement is placed between the 4” liner and 6” well from 89’ upward until the liner is sealed into place. Before installing the liner this well must be thoroughly scrubbed and air-lifted to clean accumulated sediment out of the borehole. After it is thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom adapt the air lift device to deliver acidic disinfecting solution and blow it into the well from the bottom to the top. Pump assembly must be clean and disinfected before entering the well. .
    Well diagram.png

  10. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    Thanks for the well lesson. I was going to quiz you or Eric on the pump, too. Will there be an online pump curve for that unit?


    Go read what size pipe that ties to the heat pumps. I do not think the installers had a clue about water or air flow.

    Yes I will come down and fix this.

  11. Calladrilling

    Calladrilling Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I do not have a pump curve for Schaffer pumps, but I am assuming its about the same as a J-class Jacuzzi pump ( based on the same model number format). The 1 hp 20 GPM class is generally all the same though.
  12. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    Thanks again.

    So we are looking at a pump that wants to do 20 gpm max, serving a HVAC system that wants 3 gpm/ton=21 gpm. Now we add the domestic load to a well that is self desolving the bore. The pump is in the wrong place and the return maybe too, YIKES.

    I need to know how one can guess what a well is able to produce in GPMH. Is that in the well report?

    I think this home system is under piped. I do not think the well will handle the load.

    I think the pump is too small and the near heat pump piping is too.

    We know the spin down filter is installed incorrectly for it to work at all.

    We know we do not need hack and quacks in our trade/business.

    With the spin down installed as it is the heat exchanges are feed sand on every cycle. I have seen Lake Erie water eat through schedule 80 L copper with out sand in 20 years. Lake Erie does have lots of lime, but it is suspended.

    I think that everyone who has, or wants geothermal assisted HVAC should have it. Not stuff that looks like geothermal stuff.


    I will plot a course to your house and give you a PM. I do not want anyone to know how cheap I work. I will need to stop and see Dan C. and Eric for well data.

    I never asked, but do you own tools?


    ps. I fly stunt kites, (two or more lines for each kite), some bicycle guys in Dayton Ohio think you have clean wind.

  13. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    The only real way to tell what the well is doing is to test pump it when you get there, and gather the drawdown info to come up with GPH capacity numbers for the wells current condition. The original well data should not ever be trusted unless the original driller is still on site. Given the inflow that is causeing the turbidity the well could have improved or declined.
  14. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    If I call you will you walk me through this?

    I knew the answer.

    I have a stop watch and a bucket. What else will I need?

    If I go to NC to fix this with your and Dan's help I will buy the beer on the way North.

    ^^^knows where Eric lives, goes off to find New Jersey or what is left of it.

    Life is short, live hard.

  15. Calladrilling

    Calladrilling Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I may not be a lot of help to you from NJ, but I'm here if you have/need any well information.
    Just a little information in advance, a 1 hp pump set @ 160' will have some weight to it. You also need a licensed well driller or pump installer on site to work on the well.
  16. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Dan and Eric:

    The well will not support the heat pumps if it did not produce sand. The plumbing is to small, and the spin down filter will not work as piped.

    I will have proper credentials on site if needed. Just because you take and pass an Exam, does not mean you get flow.

    Waiting for thinking. I hope she did not blow more money on the sand trap. I am not sure why I want this system to work. Maybe industry pride.

  17. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader


    To get the well data on site you will also need a water level indicator to help you measure the drawdown in the well as you pump it. You need to know what the capacity of the well is expressed in / gallons per foot of drawdown / over an extended period of time.
  18. geochallenged

    geochallenged New Member

    I want to thank all for their inputs to my SCW nightmare.

    After much thought on this system I am convinced of two things. This system was designed inaccurately for the required gpm to support both my house and my HVAC needs. The well is about 200 feet too short and the flow is about 10gpm too little. On top of that the geology isn't conducive to a SCW in the first place.

    That said, I am going to stop the nightmare by keeping the well for domestic and going to conventional units that I don't have to tinker with on a daily basis and that I can safely use the showers in my house without fear of running out of water.

    Thanks again for all your help. It is a crying shame that this does give the technology a bad name. I will never have Geothermal again.
  19. Calladrilling

    Calladrilling Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I think your jumping the gun here a bit. Ripping out the geothermal and going with a conventional system I assume is NG or Propane?
    Maybe you should focus more on a correct install than a complete replacement. This is something everybody here has been pointing towards the whole time. You should be able to install the correct closed loop system and have trouble free system for many more years to come for cheaper than a complete replacement to a fossil fuel system. A 6 yr old geothermal should have a lot of life left in it still, enough that a proper set up closed loop should be easily achieved and well within budget.
    Sorry your having a bad experience, but I would think it through more clearly before making that final decision.
  20. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I agree with Dan. Count your coins both ways. I offered a seven ton closed loop system from Cleveland cheap.

    Sorry to loose you, I hope the new system guys have a clue, like how to fix the air flow issues.


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