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    mensching's Avatar
    mensching Posts: 7, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Aug 31, 2013, 11:04 AM
    A Company Removed our Submersible Pump From Our Deep Well & an Oil Film Was On It
    Ok, we lost all water yesterday. Our home was built in 1979 by my fiancÚ's father, who has since passed away. We knew we needed to replace our pressure tank (along with almost everything in this house, due to it's age now) for some time now. Assuming we had burned up the well pump by not fixing the pressure tank for some time, so we called a professional to come service & replace whatever we needed.

    They came immediately, replaced the pressure tank, pressure switch ran all new lines, inside our basement... Then they proceeded outside as we were correct in assuming our submerged deep well pump had failed as well.

    They began the process of removing the submersible pump from our 60 foot well & they had some difficulties to say the least in removal. They were banging, slamming, jerking with their equipment for quite awhile when they finally removed the old pump.

    Then more people showed up at our home, began discussing the old pump, the issues getting it out... And that's when our nightmare began and still continues...

    They felt an oily substance on the outside of the old pump when removed, they really got upset and told us that this pump may be one of the pumps that contained pcb's from back in the 70's and were no longer legal as of 1978. Our well was dug between fall of 1979-1980 we aren't sure when exactly. The maker of this pump is Fairbanks Morse. I have pulled the model# 2D500 and another #100070025 off the pump itself and cannot identify it as an exact model documented to have contained these pcb's.

    Anyway, I will mention this is now 6pm on Friday evening, Labor Day Weekend... The men who were here informed us that this could be a real problem we were looking at and that their hands were tied until the water could be tested. They hurried & packed all their things up, didn't want anything to do with the old pump being in their possession, or even writing us a bill for the work they had already done. They claimed this was such a horrible thing to encounter they rather not even say they had been here and if they do they will have to report the finding to the epa, and in turn cost of possibly tens of thousands of more dollars. They did state we should expect to be without water for minimum 2weeks if not 2 months!

    We did go out and purchase a new well pump and all the materials to install, but now we are scared to death & don't know what to do!

    We just saved this house from foreclosure! We just started making our payments to the bank again. We have no money to spare until next summer when we will be able to refinance and bring our payment more affordable. We are really freaking out here. I have looked into how to clean the oil from the well, etc. But we haven't even determined if there is any there!!

    Could they possibly have done something wrong? They just don't want us to know it? Why else did they "run away" from our home like it was diseased, leaving behind over $1000 in already installed equipment/labor!

    We really can't afford to have the epa come here and tell us we have to fix our septic, water lines, who knows what else to bring it up to code as this company said they would make us do if they do come here. These men said we were looking at $50,000 in repairs when said & done if the epa "get involved."

    How hard can it be to bail an oil layer off the top of the well with a bailer, agitate dish washing liquid in the well for 1 hour, drain the well water till it's no longer soapy- directly into the septic tank, then rinse down the walls in the well, then add dish detergent again allow it to flush through the household pipes for 3-4 hours? Then retest the water? I mean this is crazy for us to try on our own, but they are professionals, with the proper equipment for this!

    I am scared to death and don't know what to do here with this crazy situation? Please help!!
    hkstroud's Avatar
    hkstroud Posts: 11,929, Reputation: 899
    Home Improvement & Construction Expert

    Aug 31, 2013, 12:25 PM
    Nothing about your post sounds logical. I have never heard of a pump or a pump motor containing PCB. PCB was used in electrical transformer at one time and was discontinued because the toxic waste of disposal.

    Nothing you describe about the behavior of the well driller makes any sense. If you have a big problem that would involve the EPA that would be your problem, not the drillers problem. He would only make money off it.
    Call another well driller. There is something wrong here but I can't imagine what. For a driller to pull a pump down 60 feet should be a piece of cake. To abandon their tank and work is really suspicious.

    Why else did they "run away" from our home like it was diseased, leaving behind over $1000 in already installed equipment/labor!
    That is the question. Suspect they will be back, demanding payment.

    If they come back next week with an offer to fix everything for some ridicules price, don't fall for it.
    jlisenbe's Avatar
    jlisenbe Posts: 4,473, Reputation: 156
    Ultra Member

    Aug 31, 2013, 03:12 PM
    MIght want to read this: DEEP: PCB's & Submersible Well Pumps

    A bunch more links:

    I think I would not panic. I would contact my state health department and simply ask, by phone, for some information on the subject. They can probably tell you if the pump you had is one with a pcb problem. I doubt that there would be any EPA fines associated with this, but with our stupid federal government, there is no telling.

    What state are you in?
    jlisenbe's Avatar
    jlisenbe Posts: 4,473, Reputation: 156
    Ultra Member

    Aug 31, 2013, 03:28 PM
    This doc contains a list of pumps which have this problem. Look in the appendix.
    mygirlsdad77's Avatar
    mygirlsdad77 Posts: 5,713, Reputation: 339
    Plumbing Expert

    Aug 31, 2013, 04:18 PM
    Hey jlisenbe, great info. Thanks. Lee.
    mensching's Avatar
    mensching Posts: 7, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 2, 2013, 08:21 AM
    UPDATE... 09/02/2013 MONDAY :-(

    Thanks for the input from everyone. hkstroud I agree NOTHING this well drilling company/plumbers did was rational. I am starting to understand a little more about what has happened, why it happened, & the consequences of it.

    A call was placed to this well driller on Friday afternoon, on Labor Day weekend. We informed them that our pressure tank has been bad for quite some time now, that the switch was not working now, and that we believe that we may have put too much pressure on our submerged deep well pump because it was no longer working either. The company stated they could be here that afternoon to look at it & arrived at our home within an hour of our call. (Just so happens we had another technician working in our home at the same time, on our TV's, installing Dish TV to be exact.) My fiancÚ was here working with the Dish Network installer when they arrived, so the plumbers came in & proceeded down to our basement to "look" at the pressure tank. The next thing that happened was they began removing our pressure tank, hauled it out, & began installing the new pressure tank. My fiancÚ was shocked that they didn't bother to consult him prior to proceeding with any actual repairs, to give him a quote, or even talk about the equipment they'd be installing. But, at the same time he though about us being here, without water all weekend, our 4 boys arriving any minute, & of course I'd be home as well... So he just accepted their approach to things & figured at least we'll have water, this whole mess we'd been dealing with would be over, & I'd come home surprised & happy...

    They installed tank, new plumbing from tank to water softener, new plumbing from pressure tank to outside, & new electrical supplies. Proceeded outside to remove the submerged pump from our well.

    This is where the problems began... They had a lot of issues getting the pump from the well, they really struggled & it took some time, some banging, some slamming, & they called another crew here as well to help with the removal of the tank...

    jlisenbe, THANK YOU, for your information as well.

    Fast Forward to Sunday... Since I post this question I have found this list & ALL THE INFORMATION available on these well pumps that were made prior to 1979. My pump isn't listed, but was manufactured in the 70's by Fairbanks Morse. The well was installed fall of 1979. I further found that jarring the pump when it becomes lodged, is a no-no for sure! Also, I had assumed our plumbing was contaminated as well since if or when a pump does leak oil it usually pumps some of it into your plumbing before it quits working all together. It doesn't contain a label that says "NO PCB's" so we have to assume they are in there as well as the large amount of oil we've been bailing from the surface water of the well for one day now. We have let it sit another 24 hours (to allow the oil to settle to the top again) & we will be using an oil absorbing pad to soak up any remaining oil... Then we will be following the long step by step process of cleaning the oil from our well water & casing. This has been a nightmare. But it is manageable. Fortunately, the procedure only differs in one way, if it's PCB laden oil in our well, we must safely dispose of all the dirty water & materials. Oh & the testing has came back negative, for our household plumbing! :-) That is a plus! It's also an indicator that I was correct when I assumed they had been too rough when removing the pump, as this is most likely the case here. Thank god my fiancÚ's brother works for a water treatment plant & has some sort of environmental degree! It has made the testing process so simple for us, plus we were able to have it tested on a holiday weekend! Please send us some luck that we are successful removing all the oil, I so pray we do not have to go through this again!! Day 4 without water sucks!! We have attached a hose from our closest neighbor (needless that is almost 600 ft from our home!) to our outside bib & we actually have enough pressure from him to shower & do essentials! God bless him for allowing us to use his water!

    I still wonder how we can deal with this company's behavior. They definitely didn't act professional in any way. This is a highly respected company in our area & we are shocked now as to how they treated this highly manageable situation. They knew what needed to be done, they had the equipment to do it, & they left it all on us without a second glance. Funny thing is... why did they even bother telling us they already had a problem in the past & were sued for $500,000 in damages! I wouldn't have shared that info if I were them, but then again I'd of never left a homeowner in this situation either.

    Thank you for anyone who takes the time to read my post... I know it's a long one but this is a complicated, horrible, frustrating mess!
    mensching's Avatar
    mensching Posts: 7, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 2, 2013, 09:36 AM
    Oh & we are located in Northeast OHIO by the way... I think someone had asked.
    mygirlsdad77's Avatar
    mygirlsdad77 Posts: 5,713, Reputation: 339
    Plumbing Expert

    Sep 2, 2013, 01:49 PM
    Thanks for the update, mensching.
    mensching's Avatar
    mensching Posts: 7, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 2, 2013, 02:12 PM
    HELP PLEASE!! Correct Depth To Install New Submersible Well Pump?
    How deep do we put our new submerged pump in our well?

    I previously posted a question on 08/31/2013 "A Company..."

    If you are interested in knowing the long, complicated, horrible mess we have been in this Labor Day Weekend... (See UPDATE at the bottom of the post as well if you do check it out.)

    After a long exhausting weekend cleaning out our contaminated well water...

    We are finally ready to install the new Submerged Pump in the Well...
    It's 30 feet down water level. (From the top of the well opening till you hit water.)

    There is 12 feet of standing water inside the well. (From the bottom of well to the top of the water level.)

    So altogether, I assume its considered to be 42' well deep water well? Regardless, it's total depth is 42 Feet. :-)

    Sorry, it's been a very long & trying 4 days now without water. :-/

    We have been bailing oil out of our well for 2 days straight, along with using an entire roll of oil absorbing pads, & still had to bail some more!

    Now we are recirculating a dawn dish soap solution for approximately 1 hour (As instructed by epa guidelines for oil removal of possible PCB laden oil contamination of well water.)

    Oh, my what a fun filled weekend, we haven't even gotten the results from the water test yet. Pcb laden or not, we are assuming it IS & following the clean-up procedures as instructed. I am exhausted, frustrated, worried, & scared. I don't know if I'll ever feel safe drinking or bathing my kids in this water for awhile. Hopefully the testing comes back quickly & the results are negative! That's all I've been praying for after all this time & money.

    Thank you for any advice or suggestions you may have.

    Remaining steps of our clean up process...

    We still have to drain the remaining soapy, oil contaminated water from the well when it's done agitating here shortly. Then we have to spray down walls of the well with pressure nozzle. Then drain any remaining soapy or oil contaminated water once more. Then, of course, chlorinate the well before closing the lid I hope for good! Or at least for awhile, I know we must chlorinate the well periodically hopefully not until next year though!!
    jlisenbe's Avatar
    jlisenbe Posts: 4,473, Reputation: 156
    Ultra Member

    Sep 2, 2013, 06:01 PM
    Menshing, I'd take a look at the old well pipe and put the new pump at the same level as the old one. Sorry this happened to you. The worst thing the well company did, in my view, was to give you some information that was half accurate and half junk. They should have guided you through this process.

    You might have some trouble inserting the well pump. I say that because it sounds like they had trouble getting it out. How far down does the metal lining go? Have the hose ready if you have trouble getting it in. If it gets tight, then put some water down the well. Go at it easy. Patience wins the day. You have an old well, and old wells can be trouble.

    Do yourself a favor. Attach a small steel cable to the pump. If it ever gets loose and you can't pull it with the wellpipe, you can always use the cable.

    Let me add one more thing. How many wires went to the old pump? The articles I read all stated that the PCB pumps were all two wire, as opposed three wire, pumps.

    Bottom line... wells are a pain in the rear end.
    mensching's Avatar
    mensching Posts: 7, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 4, 2013, 09:23 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by jlisenbe View Post

    Let me add one more thing. How many wires went to the old pump? The articles I read all stated that the PCB pumps were all two wire, as opposed three wire, pump.

    Thank you so much for your time, as far as the metal lining goes, I am not sure the answer to that question. I am not sure what the metal lining is?

    We have the old well pump, but we do not have the lines or the wires that were attached to it. They company took them. So, we have no idea what depth the old well pump was placed in the well.

    We did get the pump installed yesterday & it is working. (He installed it 4' from the bottom of the well, 8' down from the top of the water level.) But we still have oil in the water we are pumping into our septic :( :( :( Day 6 without water.

    Answer to your other question: (Regarding how many wires were on the old well pump.) It was/is a 2 Wire Well Pump. :(

    Again thank you for your time, any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    mensching's Avatar
    mensching Posts: 7, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 4, 2013, 09:47 AM
    I would like to add, (as mentioned in a previously in comment), they HAVE called & wanted the installer copy# off the pressure tank.

    We have not given him the number.

    We called them 1st, to be accurate, inform them we do NOT want them even trying to return to our property on Tuesday morning. We also informed them that there was, indeed a significant amount of oil in our well, & we have to assume it IS pcb laden oil due to the circumstances. After a bit of stuttering, he said, um well... then, I... then some more stuttering... will just bill you I guess for the... stuttering some more... work we did huh?

    We hung up.

    He then called back about 5 minutes & asked for the number off tank & we just stated we were unable to give it to him at this time. He stuttered a bit... then stated to just get it to him whenever, no hurry, just anytime. We just hung up.

    So, they are clearly aware of our disgust with their work. Still, they are acting as if nothing was done wrong.

    Did they actually do anything wrong here?? Are we just letting our frustration & emotions get involved with our opinion of their work? Should we pay them? Should I write a letter of complaint about the situation & their procedures for removing the pump? Or did they just do what they were suppose to & this sometimes happens?

    If this is just something that happens, is not their fault, then I will just pay them & move on. If I can do anything to prevent this from happening to someone else I will. I KNOW it is WAS NOT proper procedure to leave the well pump laying in our yard...
    hkstroud's Avatar
    hkstroud Posts: 11,929, Reputation: 899
    Home Improvement & Construction Expert

    Sep 4, 2013, 03:08 PM
    My opinion and just an opinion based on how the well man panicked.

    He screwed up and busted the pump trying to get it out. He knows he contaminated your well by what ever he did wrong.
    mygirlsdad77's Avatar
    mygirlsdad77 Posts: 5,713, Reputation: 339
    Plumbing Expert

    Sep 4, 2013, 04:12 PM
    I also have an opinion, and like Harold, it is just one mans opinion. If you have to pull a pump, and it is stuck and it is the Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, you can't simply sweet talk the pump out of the well. Sometimes you have to get a bit forceful here. Anything from highlift jacks, sledge hammers, etc are fair game at this point. When a pump really gets stuck over time, all you can do is try whatever methods you can to get that sucker out. I would be glad they got it out at all , other wise you may have been looking at drilling a new well. I would agree that they should not have left in the manner that they did, but Im also sure they didn't want to be there through the night or the holiday weekend to get the job done. The fact that they were willing to come finish on Tuesday does day something. At the very least, I would pay for materials installed, and if you really want to do what is right (they did do a service, good or bad) I would pay the labor and materials in full and move on. I would not blame you in the least for not ever hiring them again, but to not pay for services rendered just isn't completely fair no matter which way you look at it. You also have to remember that many trade companies do share stories about customers that paid, and those that did not. Don't want to burn too many bridges and have no access to assistance in the future.

    All in all, I would not suggest ever hanging up on a company that did service (good or bad) for you. I would suggest talking things through and keeping your cool. In this way, you may be able to reason with them and work out a deal. If they are a legitimate company, and you can explain rationally why you feel you should not pay the full amount, they should be willing to work with you on the bill. Give them a chance, and if they blow it, that is on them, not you. I truly wish you the best of luck on this situation. Take care. Lee.
    mensching's Avatar
    mensching Posts: 7, Reputation: 1
    New Member

    Sep 4, 2013, 04:59 PM
    Thank you Lee, I appreciate your honest opinion. I will think it over & I am not sure what my final decision will be. I agreed with the fact that they did install the pump, (even though they installed an 80 gallon pressure tank instead of 30 gallon, like I would have preferred them install if I had been asked. My old pressure tank was 30 gallon. They said that the one they installed was just the only one they had in the truck here at the time. So all & all I was just going to accept it.)

    But, now I have encountered another issue... go figure at this point!

    My sump pump quit working today while still draining oily, soapy water from our well to the septic... My fiancÚ pulled the sump pump (Note: Our pressure tank sits on a platform, above the sump crock in our basement.) & he found a unwound roll of Teflon tape that had been dropped into the sump crock obviously. The blue plastic roll & tape wrapped around the shaft of the sump pump & in turn burned up the motor because the could not turn!

    So, now I'm more frustrated than ever! This has been a total nightmare!
    mygirlsdad77's Avatar
    mygirlsdad77 Posts: 5,713, Reputation: 339
    Plumbing Expert

    Sep 6, 2013, 03:15 PM
    Look at it this way. This is merely more for your argument that you don't feel the bill should be paid in full. As long as you keep a cool head, and they do also, you really should be able to come to an agreement that suits both sides. You now can add the price of the new sump pump and labor to swap out the sump pump to the amount you would like knocked off the previous bill. It may be that I am na´ve, but I like to think that most reputable companies will do the right thing in these cases, which really is to make the customer happy in the result. There is, however, always two sides to every story, so make sure to keep as calm as possible and try to look at things from their side as a small business. We are all human, and mistakes will be made, however, as humans, we should all be smart enough to rectify these mistakes and try to make things right (at this point, this is on the company as long as you are reasonable in your request/demands.) Once again, wishing the best. Please do let us know how this all turns out. I am always interested in hearing how other plumbing/heating shops treat their customers. Take care. Lee.

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