Homesteading Tips – Water
If at all possible it is best to purchase homestead land with water wells in place. Traditionally, these wells may not be very deep but they were ample for a small family. Quite often, other wells were also used for the livestock.
It is always a good idea to have the homestead water tested for diseases before drinking. Pump the well out a few times and then take a sample to a health authority to be tested.
Drilling a well is a complex operation requiring a lot of cash up front. In addition to this most well drillers get paid by the foot. This is an incentive for them to keep drilling!
Homesteading Tip: Baby Sit The Drilling Operation
If you had to drill a well to get water you cannot afford to leave the drillers unattended. They may seem trustworthy and credible and all that stuff but I can assure that when they are paid by the foot they are going deep.
I talked to many local farmers in my area before I brought the well drillers in. I was told that I would get water as soon as I hit the gravel before the bedrock.
With the engines roaring loudly, the well drillers insisted that the water was down deep into the bedrock.
Based on my surveys of neighbors, I made it very clear to them that I had $2000 dollars and if they drilled beyond that amount they were going to be very charitable because I wasn’t paying a penny more.
As it turned out they struck water at 42 feet and I saw the running water spewing out. There was a lot of fine sand down there and they still found a way to increase the costs by selling me a $700 dollar screen to help keep the sand out. The total bill came to $2200 dollars, and so I paid.
Later, another neighbor had a well drilled only two miles away in similar soil conditions and they went to 200 feet. That was 200 X $40.00 =$8,000! Plus $2500 for hydrofracking which was 10,500 before taxes. Now in Ontario Canada you have to add another $1,350 for “environmental taxes!
Babysit the well drillers unless you want to be a slave to the lenders!
Homesteading Tip: Dig Your Well Close to the Home
Digging your well close to the home will reduce the overall cost of the plumbing and overall cost of the pump required to provide the water to your home.
If you used a diviner or some method of determining the source of water you may want to dig the well first and then build the home near it once the lines are installed.
Homesteading Tip: Place Water Lines Away From Walls
This is very important. Water is a strange thing in winter. Cold water coming from a well seems to freeze faster when it senses heat. Your room could be above 80 degrees but if the line is near the foundation of the home it will freeze overnight!
Placing the line far enough away from cement surfaces or possible wind chills prevents the lines from freezing and allows one to install heat tapes or insulation uninhibited by walls or foundations.
In fact, based upon experience, it is best to place each water line (incoming or outgoing) into a separate 4″ abs pipe for a full eight feet down. This will prevent any wind from chilling the line by keeping the ground and any cement from contacting it, and allow heat from the home to sink downward and keep it from freezing. Off the grid living requires this method since heat tape needs a generator to operate due to the high wattage. Save the fuel and install the pipe.
Homesteading Tip: Use Submersible Pumps
Submersible pumps come in a variety of sizes, amps, and horsepower. They are also quiet in operation, never freeze below the surface, and give many years of trouble free operation. These pumps usually require a control box to boost start the pump.
However, 200 feet of line filled with water will tire you out when it needs servicing, and lining up the pit-less adapter can be a challenge.
If you have solar and wind you can get Grundfos Pumps especially rated for your well depth, distance from house and desired water pressure. They are 1/2 hp and available without the control box which draw fewer amps.
You will have to ask your hardware store to purchase it for you because most wholesalers won’t sell to you. You should be able to talk to them directly and then the store will bring it in on your behalf and add there usual handling fee.
If you have Solar — Do Not buy off the shelf because they are not energy efficient and will over load your inverter and batteries.
Homesteading Tip: Use Twin Jet Pumps
If your well is close to the home and not very deep you may want to use a Twin Jet pump. One line pushes and primes the other to increase the pressure into the home. The main reason for this kind of pump is simplicity and ease of repair particularly in severe winter conditions because it in usually placed in a shed or a basement.
Homesteading Tip: Use a Pump House
If the well is far enough away from the house or one simply doesn’t want to hear the pump kicking in you may want to use a pump house. In this manner you can pump water a long distance including uphill if necessary.
Don’t forget to install a heat source for winter use. If you live off the grid this may not be your best choice.