The Rogue’s Gallery
Welcome to the Rogue’s Gallery – the final resting place for all the strange, unusual, and downright scary things we’ve found on jobsites. If you see something like this in your water system, it’s probably not up to electrical or plumbing code – so give us a call and we can come take a look.
These are some of the worst looking couplings we’ve ever taken out of a well. Each one of these held 2 pieces of steel pipe together. Despite their condition, the coupling was strong enough to hold the pump until our crew could get them out of the well.
This is why we don’t use plastic to connect down the well. When we attached to the pitless adapter and lifted, the poly pipe broke, and dropped the pump down to the bottom of the well. We got it back, but it took several hours of labor to fish the old pump out of the well. (Not all fishing trips down wells are successful – this customer was lucky.)
This is a plastic fitting used to connect poly pipe, installed in a galvanized steel coupling. One of our competitors figured he could cut costs by using plastic fittings. Unfortunately for the customer, the pipe and pump slipped off this plastic fitting and fell to the bottom. This is why we don’t cut corners, and why we don’t use cheap plastic fittings down the well.
This coupling was replaced for the hole, but what was interesting was the placement. Someone had run a phone line 2 inches above the coupling, perpendicular to the pipeline. The coupling developed a series of little grooves, just as if someone had taken a grinder to the side. Eventually these grooves wore a hole in the pipe. The image on the right shows a side view of how deeply the coupling had been eroded.
This short piece of 2″ pipe was installed just above a large pump that was not properly grounded. The pitting and cracks were caused by electrolysis, and could have been controlled by using a cathode or by grounding the pump properly. We’ve drilled cathodic protection wells to prevent this from happening to other, more expensive equipment.
The crack in this fitting was caused by water freezing in the pipeline. As the water in the pipes freezes, it expands – with surprising force. This can happen if you don’t insulate your pumphouse, or if you don’t keep the heat on near the pressure tank. (This is also why manuacturers leave a little bubble of air in water or soda bottles.)
Another cheap plastic part, cracked. We don’t understand how a contractor can justify charging customers to install these things, then charging them again when they break.
This fitting is called a bushing, and is usually used to reduce (or increase) the size of a pipeline. We don’t typically like to use them because if they fail or rust, it can drop the pump. This one was installed with PVC pipe, which gets brittle and tends to break after a couple years in the ground. As you can see, even this steel fitting wasn’t in very good shape.
These are called impellers – they spin inside the pump, and work to drive the water up from the bottom of the well into your house. They are normally carefully engineered and cast from special plastics or alloys. They are not supposed to be warped, bent, melted, or otherwise distored. These were damaged when the pump ran dry for too long. Submersible pumps are cooled by the water they pump – if they only pump air, they tend to overheat (and you can see the result.)
This is another impeller – made from brass, this time. We’re looking at the bottom, and those two holes on either side are not part of the design. The damage was caused by cavitation – when you try to pump more water than the pump was designed to handle, it can cause the water to flash from liquid to gas and back. Cavitation makes it sound like the pump has a handful of gravel in it, but in reality it’s similar to what happens to water when you boil it. As you can see from the holes, cavitation can severely damage the pump.
The awesomest wire splice in the world. And by awesomest, we mean worst. There are so many things wrong with this, it’s amazing it ever passed electrical code. (Actually, it was probably stuck down the well so fast the inspector never saw it.) This wire splice was down the well. First, it uses UF wire (the gray jacketed part) – which is designed to be buried under dirt, but was never intended to be submerged under water. Second, those black cone-shaped bits are twisted onto the wire – again, an acceptable connection above ground, but never intended for underwater. Lastly, the installer spackled the whole thing with bathroom caulk. It’s almost funny that someone thought this was an acceptable installation, except that it could severely hurt someone or damage the system.
This hardhat is famous among Walker Water Systems employees – we’ve used it in safety training for decades. Gene was working on his well drill one day when a pin in the derrick popped loose and landed on his hardhat. The pin punched a hole in the hat, but Gene walked away with only a headache. This is why all employees wear hardhats when the derrick is up, and why we insist that customers stand clear of our rigs.