Light brown water from well after heavy rain

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Old 01-25-20, 11:19 PM
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Light brown water from well after heavy rain

OK so I have a question. I'm in Pa. Bought a new, old (original home is 1825 with additions and upgrades) home in Oct. Today we had very heavy rain and my well water turned light brown. Very diluted, I didn't even notice at first. MY well head is under a paved driveway in a cement vault access is via a manhole cover in the driveway. Obviously I think some water from the pit seeped into the well, this is the first time its happened. The home has a sediment filter and a UV Light to kill any bacteria so I'm not too worried about that. I'm calling a well company tomorrow but any ideas what I can expect or cost, I'm thinking they'll want to raise the head so it doesn't get water infiltration. I plan on opening the lid and seeing if its flooded in there later today to check for any issues. But has anyone had a similar issue? Also how long after a rain and drying up would it take for the well water to clear up? The well has passed all water tests before we moved in. Thanks!

 
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Old 01-26-20, 04:58 AM
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Its never good that surface water is getting into your well, what might be water today could be something really nasty in the future.

No way to know what the probelm is or it;s related cost but a new well would certainly be the worst case and having just installed a new well 3 years ago for $8K!
 
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Old 01-26-20, 05:26 AM
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I certainly hope it doesnt mean a new well! I'm going to pull the manhole cover in the driveway today to see if it is flooded. We got 2 inches of rain very quickly and roadways etc were flooded in my area. I'll take some pics if I can get the cover off.
 
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Old 01-26-20, 05:29 AM
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Water entering from the very top at your access cover would be the simplest cause and one you might be able to do something about. Another option is that it's water moving through the soil and entering through a hole in the well casing. Either case it's not good because it means surface water is entering your well and all the contaminates it can bring.
 
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Old 01-26-20, 06:39 AM
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2" of water into a well cover is not much water - considerably under a gallon. It seems odd to me that 2" of water would have your impact unless the driveway is sloped toward the cover allowing substantially more than 2" of water to get in. I'm more concerned about damage to the well casing or water supply line caused by driving over the area. Keep in mind that not seeing the problem previously doesn't mean it's new.

BTW, where is your septic?
 
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Old 01-26-20, 08:05 AM
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Two common possibilities:
1) Did you have a power outage? Older homes accumulate a brown muddy scale on the inside of the pipes.
If the power goes out long enough that the water level drops (from flushing, running sinks etc) then the mud breaks off and will give you cloudy water.

2) The heavy rain saturated the soil, raising the level of water in the gravel bed under the driveway until water spilled into the vault.
If it's an actual manhole cover into a larger space, BE CAREFUL, follow confined-space possible-asphyxiation rules. Check the caulking for the "lid" of the vault, as well as the caulking in the manhole.

3) If it's surface water in the well, you chlorinate the well to disinfect it.
Turn off the hot water heater breaker, close the valve to the pressure tank. Remove the aerators and shower heads, then open all the spigots and drain the house piping into the basement sump.

I drain the house water FIRST, because it takes less chlorine to sanitize the empty water pipes, than to sanitize the empty water pipes PLUS all that cloudy water.
However, if you're in an old house, you may have cloudy water for a while, simply due to the scale in the pipes- which means you'll want to remove aerators and shower heads so they don't get clogged.
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 01-26-20 at 08:34 AM.
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Old 01-26-20, 02:37 PM
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Thanks for all the responses. It wasn't 2 inches of water, it was 2 inches of HEAVY rain rather quickly, streams, fields and roads all flooded around here. I opened the manhole and found the well pit FULL of water. I shop vac'ed it out, took forever and some was still seeping in so it was filling up, although much more slowly. The pit is roughly 4 ft x 4 ft ad about 5 feet deep.

Drinking bottled water until someone can come out, hopefully tomorrow. The driveway isnt a concern as I can move around it and I'm thinking to se if the head can be raised above grade so this doesn't happen again and just reposition the driveway a bit. Anyway pics are below. who do you call for this kind of work? Plumber, Well pump installer, well driller?

Oh and kinda weird, we don't have septic just well, its town sewer and the outlet is on the other side of the house, at least 300 feet away and down a hill.


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Old 01-26-20, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by headbanger783
It wasn't 2 inches of water, it was 2 inches of HEAVY rain rather quickly
It helps to think of 2-inches of rain as every 220-foot by 220-foot square area receiving ~220-tons of water.

Originally Posted by headbanger783
who do you call for this kind of work?

The plumber who installed the water system will almost always leave a service tag or decal where the water lines enter the basement.

In some cases where it's a "who installed THIS?" situation, I've been able to find the plumbers information in the local municipal/Town building permit records.
 
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Old 01-26-20, 04:37 PM
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It helps to think of 2-inches of rain as every 220-foot by 220-foot square area receiving ~220-tons of water.
I guess that's correct. But the area of the manhole cover is only around 100 square inches, and 2" of water covering 100 square inches (irrespective of the rate) is only around a gallon. So, the problem isn't the rainfall but the runoff from the hill and surrounding area.

Water flows down and the problem here is that water is flowing down the driveway and hill at least from the tree (in the photo) into the well cover pit, exasperated by the rate of rainfall. In addition, the area beyond the fence may be above the well, and if there's livestock the problem could be acute.

Something needs to be done to get the well cap above ground level and that probably includes redirecting the driveway or moving the well.
 
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Old 01-26-20, 04:43 PM
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It seems to me that this is going to be a temporary repair and you should look to have something drilled that is not prone to the external elements.
 
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Old 01-27-20, 09:06 PM
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How about putting a sump pump in the pit to remove any standing water now and in the future?

If you need somebody to raise the cap on it you need a well driller, not a plumber. No reason it needs to be the guy who installed it.
 

Last edited by zeezz; 01-27-20 at 09:46 PM.
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Old 01-28-20, 03:49 AM
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I found your problem interesting and was thinking about it after my earlier post. Your problem isn't so much the heavy rain which only produced about a gallon of water in the pit. Rather, the problem is the slope of the driveway, causing tens of gallons of water to flow over the manhole. Your answer may be as simple as putting a water diverter just in front of the manhole, between the manhole and the street and angeled in the direction you want the water to flow.. You can either install a rubber diverter about 3' long or have a grate put in. Either option is much cheaper than rerouting the driveway or digging a new well.
 
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Old 01-28-20, 04:42 AM
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You will not really know much until someone comes out.

You did not say how old this well head is.
It could be that over time it has just filled with sediment so the solution may be to just scoop the sediment out every few years.
 
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Old 01-28-20, 10:50 AM
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The pit is roughly 4 ft x 4 ft ad about 5 feet deep.
I had thought you had an open well. You have a well head down 5'.
As long as the pit water isn't getting down into the well the situation is not critical.
 
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Old 01-28-20, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Tony P.
Rather, the problem is the slope of the driveway, causing tens of gallons of water to flow over the manhole. Your answer may be as simple as putting a water diverter just in front of the manhole,
I think there is another element to that. The saturated surface water can flow under the paved driveway through the gravel base, and reach the well.
 
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Old 01-29-20, 02:36 AM
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Hey everyone thanks for all the responses. Had a well driller out yesterday. They took a look and they are doing the job tomorrow (Thursday). They are going to cut into the driveway, reconstruct the head and pull it above grade. Tear apart all the concrete block and backfill the pit. $1900. Not too bad since a backhoe and driveway is involved. There maybe more of an expense if I need a new pump, I have no idea how old it is and they won't know til they pull it up to do the extension, so we'll see.

He looked at the head and said obviously its not to current code but when it was done it was acceptable and it wasn't nearly the worst he had seen. He also advised against digging a new well unless absolutely necessary due to cost alone.

Eventually I'll have to reroute the driveway by about 3-4 feet to the left but it's not terribly urgent. Oh also the brown water cleared up once the flooding in the pit subsided. Theres still a little down there but its clear, maybe 4 inches as opposed to the 3 feet that filled it after the rainstorm.

I'll post some pics of it being done and the final result.
 
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