It has been hot in my neck of the woods. Three straight days of triple digit heat is hot for northern Illinois. It has been so hot that the chickens pant.
What? You didn’t know that chickens pant? Neither did I. Until I started keeping chickens.
It has been dry too. So dry that I haven’t had to mow in weeks. So dry that the last time I mowed, I was surprised to discover that mice had constructed a condominium complex in the muffler of my riding mower.
It has been so dry that I have had to give the bees lots of supplemental water. Honey bees use water to cool the hive. They will find water wherever they can, including my non-beekeeping neighbor’s bird bath.
So when I turned on the tap the other night and got air instead of water I began to wonder if the hot, dry weather had caused my well to run dry.
My weekend homestead is a farm house that is, according to tax records, over one hundred years old. Its the kind of house that has lath and plaster walls, a foundation that used concrete forms made of dimensional lumber instead of plywood, and an old point well.
The previous owners lived in the house for 25 years and never had a problem with the well. I have never had a problem with the well. Until last Sunday night.
Apparently the well pump ran continuously for most of the night and no one had noticed. Concerned that I had burned the motor of my well pump, I had a plumber replace the pump on Monday. In his opinion, the pump wasn’t the problem, but the owners manual said that it should be run for no longer than 15 minutes at a time, so I decided to see if it would be an easy fix. No such luck. The new pump would still not draw water from the well. When I went to bed Monday night, I was worried that my shallow well had run dry.
I have what is called a point well. This kind of well can be no more than 25 feet deep because it is made by driving a pointed pipe into the ground and 25 feet is about as deep as the pipe can be driven without damaging the pipe.
On Tuesday I had a well service company come out to troubleshoot the problem. The technician concluded that there was a leak in the pipe between my pump and the well, the decades old galvanised pipe that runs below the frost line and under a concrete patio to a pit where the well is located.
The leak turned out to be in a connector that was accessible by climbing down into the well pit. After replacing this connector, the pump was able to draw water from the well again. I was relieved that to have water again.