Understanding Rural Water Systems

Keep rural water systems flowing by learning these basic maintenance steps, including basic layout, well and pump cutaway diagram, service with a smile, water delivery system and operating control switch diagrams.

| September/October 1987

Keep rural water systems clear and running by performing a few simple preventive maintenance measures on your property. 

Understanding Rural Water Systems

If you live in the country, or even in a neighborhood outside city limits, chances are pretty good that you get your water from a private well. And whether that well is dug, driven, bored, drilled, pounded or jetted — or even if it isn't a well at all, but a spring or a buried cistern — you probably rely on a pump and delivery system to get the water from its source to your tap.

Normally, a modern water system is so reliable you'll probably tend to forget it's there; in fact, like water itself, you probably won't miss it until it stops running. Back in MOTHER'S 100th issue (July/August 1986), professional well-driller Silas Stillwater offered some valuable insight into the process of sinking a well. Here, we'll look beyond that to the role of the pump, controls and delivery equipment . . . and to the steps you can take to keep rural water systems properly maintained.

Three-Part Harmony

A typical home water-delivery system is so uncomplicated that it takes only moments to describe. Unfortunately, variations from the typical do exist, and they have a way of clouding a clear understanding of the basic layout.

Let's cover the essentials first. The key to the whole operation is, of course, the pump. And regardless of what type it is (reciprocating piston, centrifugal, turbine or jet-ejector, for either shallow or deep well applications), its purpose is to move water and generate the delivery force we call pressure. Sometimes — with centrifugal pumps in particular — pressure is not referred to in pounds per square inch but rather as the equivalent in elevation, called head. No matter; head in feet divided by 2.31 equals pressure, so it's simple enough to establish a common figure.

Water delivered under pressure does not go directly to your faucet, but instead is held in some form of storage for household use. By far the most popular and sanitary method employs a 30- or 42-gallon hydropneumatic tank, which provides a water reserve and a capacity for storing pressure. Now, even if your high-school physics class is a faded memory, you may recall that water cannot be compressed; air, however, can be, and that's exactly what happens when the pump fills this tank. The compacted air retains the pump's pressure for the entire system.

6/23/2014 6:02:53 PM

I have a rural land block with my house on it. I have a large submersible pump that fills a 30,000 litre holding tank. This then feeds to a pump house that then supplies water to my house under pressure. normally the pressure is excellent to all appliances in the home. Now it is very bad everywhere. I think we have an external leak in the pipe underground to the house. How do we find this? The pump rises to 60psi then shuts off but decreases to 40psi rather quickly so hence a loss of pressure. The company that fitted the house and irrigation system doesn't keep the layout of pipes they installed some 9 years ago so this isn't very helpful. I just don't know why its recently changed as the whole system was recently serviced. Since then the pressure has been less but now its nearly non existent. The large 30,000 litre tank is full and provides a good head of water to be pumped to the house. Had someone look at the whole system and said that the pump house send pressured water to the paddocks as well as the house and has no isolating valve so we can determine exactly where we have a leak if we do at all. We know the inside of the house has no leaks thus reducing pressure. Very frustration. We may have to get the whole system re looked at and the pump house to house lines dug up and leaks found or discounted and look elsewhere. Very frustrating indeed. Any help would be appreciated. Carl

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