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Old 10-04-2010, 04:33 PM   #1
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well pressure tank leak


hey all.
right to the point, the pressure tank sprang a leak.

I called a plumber I have used before but he told me that because the system is buried, I could save a lot of money by digging it up by myself and then calling him.

So I took time off work and spent several hours digging. I dug a hole around the well pipe and the pressure tank. The tolp of the tank is about one foot underground. I dug down until I was about 18" down on the tank when I spotted the leak, a 3+ inch slit in the tank.
At this point, I've dug as far as I can go really. I used my garden hose to siphon off the water from the hole, but it took forever. I tried to dig more, but I'm using a regular shovel, a flat shovel, and a post hole digger.

The problem is, I have to have the pump on to use water in my house. When I turn it on, the hole fills up with water, and I start over. Once the water is mostly out, I'm scooping the very wet mud out with my post hole digger and a small bucket, but it isn't efficient, and I'm already getting diminishing returns. I don't think I can get much further down with these tools.

SO I called the plumber back and he says we won't know how tall the pressure tank is until we get to the bottom of it, but that I should keep digging until I can get it completely unearthed, then call him and he can replace it for me for far less money than if I have him dig it up.

The problem again, I don't see how I can go any deeper. The hole is already about four feet by three feet, and to go any deeper, I'll have to make it much larger around to be able to angle the tools. This also means I'll be standing down in the slosh, and working blind with the standing water.

There has to be a better way.

Anybody?

Thanks.

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Old 10-04-2010, 06:31 PM   #2
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Its called an excavator. You can rent one at any Big Box store, or Rentall center. Be sure to call Dig Safe first, hitting a gas line will totally ruin your day. Or you can pay the plumber to dig.

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Old 10-04-2010, 06:35 PM   #3
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Might be time to call in machinery.Is there a hydro-vac excavator in your area?Backhoe?
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:38 PM   #4
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Can you patch up the hole with duct tape wrapped all the way around the tank? Hopefully this will last a few days until you can get the area excavated and the tank replaced.

Lower the pressure for the system so the patch does not burst too quickly. This may restrict water use to the first floor.
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:41 PM   #5
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I have never seen a well system where the pressure tank is buried. I have seen them in sump pits but never actually buried in the ground. Since these tanks are not repairable, I would make sure the replacement tank is above ground. In a garage, basement or stand alone pump house.

I assume you have a submersible pump. I would abandon the tank and re-plumb the pump to a new tank.
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Old 10-04-2010, 08:09 PM   #6
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Dan&Dave, The plumber said I shouldn't use the big equipment for risk of breaking the pipe.
No gas lines, I'm out in the county.
RJ, Yes, I definitely will have the new one put in the crawlspace.
Allan, my thought exactly,but I wasnt sure duct tape would be up to the challenge. Also, I have no idea how to lower the pressure.
Thanks all.
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:00 PM   #7
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Can you patch up the hole with duct tape wrapped all the way around the tank? Hopefully this will last a few days until you can get the area excavated and the tank replaced.

Lower the pressure for the system so the patch does not burst too quickly. This may restrict water use to the first floor.
Haha where were you a month or so ago when BP needed help in the gulf?
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:21 PM   #8
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"Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
--- Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino

I was thinking of a rubber grommet and a small sheet of metal and then some duct tape. still, with the pressure, I guess all I can hope for is to slow the blowout while it's on.
I have it turned off now, and only on when I need to use water.
I stopped by Lowe's today and picked up a little electric pump, so that should help.
Also, I think i"ve spotted the same model pressure tank and it's less than 3 feet tall (20 gallons).
So I gues I'm almost to the bottom, if it is the same model.
I suppose with my digging pole and post hole digger, and the pump, I will have it excavated by the weekend.
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Old 10-05-2010, 04:44 PM   #9
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I'm wondering if you have the hole big enough for the plumber to work in and make connections.
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Old 10-05-2010, 05:33 PM   #10
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for patching the tank you could get a few large hose clamps of the same type, unscrew them al the way and string them together. Put sumething like a piece of rubber innertube between the clamps and tank, this should help slow the leak. Also if you were to use duct tape use electrical tape under it, I think it would help seal it better.
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
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for patching the tank you could get a few large hose clamps of the same type, unscrew them al the way and string them together. Put sumething like a piece of rubber innertube between the clamps and tank, this should help slow the leak. Also if you were to use duct tape use electrical tape under it, I think it would help seal it better.
To make a big hose clamp, get a roll of plumbers tape (not really tape, but a roll of metal with holes every inch, used to hang pipes.) Wrap around tank and use a bolt to tighten up the tape.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:19 PM   #12
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I feel your pain. I also have my tank buried in my yard nest to the well. It scares me. My nephew is a well driller and he said for me to abandon it and go to a new one in the crawl space. I think I can build a small room there insulated real well with a light bulb for a heater during the winter. Good luck
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Old 10-05-2010, 08:53 PM   #13
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You're working against yourself every time you turn that water on. You should have never turned it on once you started digging. Leave it off till you finish digging and your digging will go a lot faster. You've got yourself in a cycle. The water is slowing you down and the slowing down is making you have insufficient progress so you end up turning on the water again. Keep it off till the job is done and don't quit digging till it's done. Bucket out or pump out the free water.

BTW, you'll never be able to seal or clamp a 3" split pressure tank leak.
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:22 AM   #14
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ok, but I just don't have the time or energy to get this all done in one go.
As I mentioned, I bought a small pump at Lowe's yesterday, but I had left the pump off all day, and when I got home, there was nothing to pump.
I dug for a couple of hours until it got dark. I think I'm hitting the bottome part where the tank tapers in. Based on pictures I've seen, that part is about 6 inches tall, so I"m almost to the bottom.
I have reached and worked around one pipe going from the well pipe to (or by) the pressure tank, and I also hit an electrical wire coming out of the well pipe and by the tank (did not break it), so I definitely have to be careful from here on out.
Once the weekend gets here, I should be able to get it done. I'm just not sure what else I'm going to hit in the way of wiring and pipes. I'm assuming if the pump breaker is turned off that the line I'm seeing isn't hot. Is there anything else?
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Old 10-06-2010, 04:06 PM   #15
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You have not mentioned the size or the material of your well casing. Since the tank is buried I assume the top of the casing is also buried. Most sanitary codes no longer permit a well for potable water to have a buried casing. Since you are installing the new tank in your crawl space, I would extend the casing above ground. This will require that you install a pit-less adapter to bring the water line out thru the side of the casing. Not a big problem since you have it dug up.

http://www.pitlessadapter.com/

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