We expect our customers to shop around a bit to find the best features and prices. One question we get sometimes (and that people think more often than they ask), is why are Walker’s estimates so much higher than other drillers?
Sometimes we’re not: We’ve got a reputation for being more expensive, but it’s not always the case. Call us for an estimate, and check our prices against other drillers. Just remember, we estimate each project based on the area we’re drilling in, and our estimates tend to be within a few dollars of the final cost. Plus, it’s rare for us to have to come back onsite to fix mistakes.
Casing: One main difference between us and other drillers is casing. Steel casing is expensive, but in some wells it’s the only thing that keeps the well from caving in. Since we can’t predict a need for casing until the well is being drilled, we look at the neighbors’ wells. If they needed casing we include it on the estimate, and if they didn’t we don’t.. If we estimate for casing but don’t use it, we don’t bill for it.
In the diagram below, you can see little vertical dashes – those show where the driller cut holes in the casing. This is done to let water in but keep the gravel out. If there was no casing, anything could fall into the well – sand, gravel, or other materials. The log on the left describes the layers of different materials the well goes through.
Some drillers simply don’t estimate a cost for casing, figuring that the lower the estimate looks the more likely they are to get the job. But this leads to two problems. First, if the well needs casing but the driller doesn’t install it, the well can cave in – meaning you have to spend several thousand more dollars to repair or replace the well (and the cheap driller will happily charge you for it). Second, if the well needs casing and the driller does install it while drilling, you end up spending as much as you would have for a Walker Water well anyway – but without our quality or warranty. We don’t think it’s right to mislead our customers that way, so we provide an honest, accurate estimate up front.
Pipe and Materials: The materials used to connect the pump to the house can also make a difference of several hundred dollars. We only use galvanized steel pipe down the well, which increases the cost a bit. For a while, we tried using plastic pipe to hang the pump (the way some of our competitors do). We stopped when we found that plastic tends to get brittle and break after a couple years. If the pipe breaks, it can drop the pump to the bottom of the well – meaning more labor to try to fish it out, or a new well if it gets stuck. We don’t install systems with cheap parts because we don’t think it’s right to gouge our customers on frequent repairs.
Amount of Water: Many drillers estimate a cost for the shallowest well and cheapest pump possible – figuring that a homeowner won’t bother to complain about having too little water. If you’re in a small house with just a couple bedrooms and a small lawn, then 10 gallons per minute from a cheap little pump and well might be enough. But if you live in an area where the water runs deep underground, or if you need to irrigate a medium or large lawn, or if you have a big family that uses lots of water, you’ll probably need 15-20 gallons per minute.
There are two problems with installing a cheap, undersized pump. First is that you might not have enough water. For example, most of the sprinkler installers in Ketchum and Sun Valley want 20 gallons per minute for watering the landscaping. Second, if you use more water than the pump is designed to handle, it will wear out sooner. Of course, the cheap guys would be happy to come out and charge you for a repair when it fails.
Most Walker Water pumps last between 7 and 10 years, and we offer a 5-year warranty on the pump and motor. Some of our water systems have been running for over 30 years without a service call. We even offer a labor warranty on some of our systems – if something goes wrong within the first year, you don’t pay for the labor to repair it. (Not all systems qualify for a labor warranty though – call us for details.)
Conventional Pump or Smart Pump? We prefer installing a conventional pump and water system with a full-sized pressure tank. We’ve found that these systems are more reliable and cost less to repair. However, a Smart Pump system (also called a Variable Frequency Drive system) does have some advantages. If you don’t want a big blue pressure tank taking up space in your home, a smart pump might work for you. Or, if you have a shallow well or intermittent use of water, a smart pump can be a good solution. The drawback to a smart pump is that it’s controlled by a computer, and has fewer replaceable parts. If something goes wrong on a smart pump system, the repair is usually going to be a lot more expensive than with a conventional system.