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Water Well Drillers – How Do They Do It?

Water well drillers perform a valuable service. They bring water, life’s necessity, to the surface where we can drink it and bathe in it. Water well is more than just a hole in the ground. Looking for water has a great cost; sometimes that cost is financial, but it has also had its costs in damage to the environment, loss of life or simply in time and labor. Knowing where the water is before you begin will help you save many of these costs.

Up until 200 years or so ago, water wells were dug by hand. This type of well needed to be large enough to accommodate the one or more men with shovels who broke their backs digging down to the water table. The dirt, clay and rocks all had to be removed from the area by hand as well. Once the well was dug, it had to be lined with stones that extended above the surface to create a wall that reduced contamination to the water and injuries to the users. Once the wall was in place, the water excavation can continue to beneath the water table.

Today, the more modern method is to use a pre-cut well ring to line the walls as the well is dug. A hand-dug well is a cheap, low-tech solution to accessing the groundwater. However, there are numerous drawbacks to hand-dug wells. They can only be dug in areas where the ground is suitable, such as sand, clay, gravel or mixed soils. They cannot be dug into hard rock areas and they are usually shallow, most commonly between five and thirty meters. This shallowness means that they can be more easily contaminated or may dry up or become flooded. They are dangerous for a variety of reasons and they require time and physical labor to complete. If these men do not find water where they dig, their efforts are wasted.

Water well drillers have made the job easier and faster but it is still expensive and damaging to your property. Water well drillers most commonly use one of two methods to drill the well—rotary style, or the older cable tool drilling method.

Rotary drillers use a tungsten drill bit attached to a drill pipe. Drilling fluid (mud) is used to flush the broken pieces back out of the hole, and to cool and lubricate the drill bit. Also, the fluid helps to stabilize the wall of the hole and prevent cave-ins that occur before the casing is installed. As the drill intersects the aquifer, the water flows into the hole. If necessary, air hammers are used to help the drill break through the hard rocks.

Cable tool drilling is an older but still common method used by water well drillers. In this method, a heavy bit is attached to the end of a cable that is raised and dropped so that the hole is dug by pounding pressure. This method can bore through any kind of surface and does not need mud lubricants or pumps. It is, surprisingly, less invasive than rotary drilling.

Regardless of the method, once dug, the well is lined with a casing that is usually smaller than the diameter of the drilled hole. This space is filled with cement or a volcanic clay called bentonite to prevent contaminations from surface water. The well is capped with a seal that allows air to travel into the vent, but prevents everything else. Water flows into the well from a screened hole left in the bottom.

As you can see, water well is a very significant thing and before you bring in the water well drillers it is important to know that there will be water where you want it to be. The only sure way of knowing that the water is there is to open up the ground and look for it, but there are some strategies that will give you a good idea.

Do a low-tech property survey. Broad-leafed trees, willows and other water-loving plants will grow where the water is closes to the surface. Look for valleys, gaps, and lower areas, and for any springs on the property. These are all indications of an accessible water table. However, be sure that the area is not prone to flooding.

However, that is not enough. Before having a costly experimental drilling done on your land you will want to know more than that the water is there. You need to know how much and how deep it is. Have a groundwater survey completed. American Water Surveyors has the scientific technology to give you some assurance of water before calling the water well drillers. Those well costs are wasted if the water will not flow to the surface in useable amounts. American Water Surveyors is located in Fort Worth, Texas. Phone them at 877-734-7661 or contact them at info@wefindwater.com

February 24, 2012 at 8:32 am Comments (0)