Well this story is getting older now, but it seems to be fairly well resolved. For awhile there it was changing too much to blog about. Sorry the result is such a LONG post.
Our well has a relief overflow, which when it overflows it runs out on the ground and makes mud in the Summer and ice in the Winter across a section of our drive. Last October Mike decided to bury a tank we had left from the previous owners so the water could run into there and dissipate slowly underground.
That's where it all started.. While burying the tank Mike bumped the tractor into a spigot directly above the well, which cracked a joint down low, and our water quit working. The well repair guy pulled the pump up and replaced the joint, which he said was corroded due to the wrong material anyway. Then he put the pump back down.
About a month later we were out of water in the house. Mike could turn off the pump and turn it on again and it would pump water for a few minutes and stop. The well guy came out (two days later) and said good news is our pump is not dead, bad news is our well is dry. We would have to drill a new well (~$12,000) with no guarantee that they would hit water. We were devastated. 2008 wasn't good to us financially and the bill for a new well was not going to fit in the budget! The well guy put a pump minder on so that the pump would shut off if there was no water rather than burn out.
Mike happened to be out when the well guy was there (taking advantage of the distraught woman at home, who knows nothing about rural life, and wells and such.) Mike felt there was something not right about the well guy's advise, after all we had had no trouble at all with water supply since moving in, and he could get water for a few minutes every little while. Mike wanted a second opinion. That didn't help with the sleepless night and lack of water in the house until the next guy could get there.
The next guy confirmed that we had water. He thought the well was vapor locking, and found that if he set the pump minder to about a minute before it turns back on (allowing dissipation of the gasses) it would fill our 300 gallon tank in about an hour, which we use up in about 3 days. So if this works then while we sleep each night it should top off the tank and we should be good.
That sort of worked. For some unknown reason occasionally it did not turn back on, and a couple days later we were out of water again. We did figure out that we could turn it off and back on and it would proceed to fill and be ok for a couple of days.
We left for Albuquerque and Christmas with a full tank. We were convinced that without us home using water, the 300 gallon tank would be plenty of water for the animals for 9 days. But the next day the girl (Jody) taking care of the animals called to say the tank was empty. She cycled the pump and had water again but every other day or so the tank was empty. The freezing weather, and hoses, and a spigot that freezes, etc, didn't help matters and she was carrying water from one barn to the other daily, rising to the challenges our water problems were presenting.
We were baffled where 300 gallons could be going every other day. Upon returning home we realized that it was all draining into the overflow tank! Aargh! Mike has shut that off, and still there is something wrong with the pump that cycling seems to fix about once a week, but at least we haven't been without water since Christmas. He thinks when the pump was pulled up it was never put back down far enough into the well. We'll get the SECOND guy back out to look in the Spring.
This story is not even going into the frustrations Mike has had over the first well service and letters back and forth and better business bureau and other ugliness.
Coincidentally about 3 days in with no water we realized our septic tank was full it had overflowed and backed up. So for three or so weeks we either didn't have water, or we didn't have septic tank! Either way we were getting up at 3am to pee (because due to our new eating regime we are drinking about a gallon of water a day!) and have to put on shoes so our feet don't freeze in the snow on the way to pee! That is just not right!
When we called the Septic Tank service they told us they would charge $50/hour to dig up our front yard to find our septic tank. Mike thought he could do that with the tractor, and would call them back when he found it. Of course there was about 6 inches of snow from the day before that was not too helpful.
We did dig up half of the front yard and we did find the tank and the lid. Called the guy back and he couldn't come out for a few days.. After some frustrations with that, we called the only other guy in town who came right out and pumped us out.
Whew, we thought our problems were solved and I went off for a much needed shower before my girlfriend took me out for a Birthday Tea. But alas, the shower wasn't draining. Seems the full septic tank had clogged back up into the pipes. Mike had to snake it out, making a heck of a mess in the crawlspace with back flowing sewage! But then HE could have a much needed shower also.
A couple days later we were relaying this story to some friends who said the first time they pumped their septic tank they hadn't realized there were two lids and that you had to pump both compartments. Two lids?? So out came the tractor again. A bit more digging and Voila.. another lid! And upon opening.. yup, this side if full too. So the Septic service came back out to pump that side (shouldn't he have mentioned that when he was here the first time?). He did however mention that he thought our drain field had probably been compromised and that we would probably have to dig a new one. That will be another task for the spring! And perhaps Mike and his Tractor can do that without employing incompetent service people! In the meantime we are conserving on toilet flushing, sharing the flush when we can, but it sure beats walking in the snow to pee!