I’m never going to win the lottery. My karma, good luck, and horseshoes were working overtime this weekend. All I can say is, thankfully I was home at the time or things could have been much, much worse.
Let me give you the details…
While putzing around the house, I heard a pop followed by a hiss in the basement. Then the well kicked on and I heard trickling. Galloping down the stairs, I saw a picture of water horror. A leak opened up on one of the pipes coming from the well.
Like a good little homeowner, I knew where the main emergency shutoff was located, but this leak happened BEFORE the shutoff valve. Turning the valve to the OFF position would do nothing in this situation.
I ran outside and pulled the cover off of the well head to see if there was a shutoff there, but nothing.
Zipping back inside, I grabbed my cell phone, charged down the stairs, and attempted to dial the plumber with my left hand as my right fingers were used to block the leak. I was like the Litte Dutch Boy sticking his finger in the dike.
This was starting to feel like an I Love Lucy episode.
Working with the plumber, I explained the leak, its location, and what I was doing to stem the tidal flow threatening to transform my basement into an indoor swimming pool.
It’s all fun and games until you start swimming with the fishes.
So here’s what to do when
- your house water is supplied by a well
- you have water streaming out of a leak
- and said leak is located before any shutoff valves
Step 1 – Turn off the power to the well pump
Somewhere around the well pump and pressure tank you’ll see electrical wires. Follow those wires to a switch. It may look more like a circuit breaker from the electrical panel. If you have trouble finding it, ask for help before any leaks start. You want to get familiar with this item. Turning off the power will keep the well pump from replacing the draining water in the system.
Step 2 – Keep the main house water shutoff valve open
Turning off the main valve will not help in this situation. You want to leave it on to help with the next step.
Step 3 – Open up the closest faucet
My utility sink is located feet from the well pump. Opening the faucet will help the pressure tank to drain and stop the water from flowing. Here’s the funny thing, even though the water was still streaming from the leak, none of it was making it to the faucet, and my main valve was still open.
Step 4 – Open the spigot located on the well feeder pipe
With my system, there’s a garden spigot attached to the pipe very close to where the power box is connected to the well pump. The power box looks like a little 4×4 inch square box with a light that comes on when the well pump is working. When I turned this spigot on, the water gushed out and the pressure of the well pressure tank started to drop. Then when all the pressure was gone, the leak and water stopped flowing.
Step 5 – Call a well repair service
A regular plumber may not have the necessary parts needed to repair the leak. While on the phone with the pumber, I explained the location of the leak. He told me he wasn’t the guy for me and referred me to a well repairman. Plan on being without water until your leak is fixed.
Here’s where I lucked out. I was home at the time and immediately went to the basement after hearing the leak start. The water only gushed for about 15 minutes, but that was enough to warrant a wet basement and a cleanup with the wet/dry shop vac. Please do not electrocute yourself by trying to use a regular household vacuum on standing water.
I also lucked out with the service call. The well guy was finishing another service job in my area and was here in 5 minutes from the time of my harried phone call. The stars were aligned in my favor Saturday afternoon! He’s now in my contact list.
For future emergencies, I taught each of the kids what to do in case of a new leak, either before or after the main valve. I’ve also cut a length of garden hose to go from the well spigot to the utility sink in case I ever have to use that method again. That pressure tank holds more than you would think.
I hope this helps you to learn a little more about taking care of your house. Please check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for more helpful tips.
PowerBall, you’re safe from me. I used up all my luck.
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