Well pump died. No water.

So last night I was filling my dog’s water bowl and the water just … quit. Stopped. Died.

The plumber says the pump is dead. But we can’t find the well. (I bought the house in 2002, and wasn’t the original owner. I didn’t even think to ask where the well was when I bought it…)

Plumber says: when you find it, call me…

I figure a metal detector will help, but I have no idea where to buy one.

Whatever you do, call a different plumber.

Do you have the land survey from when you bought the place? It might show where the well is at.

Yeah, I looked where I thought it would be - and did find the deed, but I didn’t find the survey. I can’t even remember having one - but that is a testament to my memory as much as anything…

The second plumber I called said he couldn’t pull a well pump out, he was too old to do it alone and was a one man shop.

The third plumber I called said that he wouldn’t know how to find the well either. Wow, I can’t imagine it is common, but is it that uncommon?

Stupid question but how are you finding your plumbers? Maybe you can call up those “call before you dig” people and they can come find all the lines in your property.

Not a stupid question at all. I googled for plumbers close to me.

Not sure what/who the “call before you dig” people are, but I’ll google it. Thanks.

You could check if there’s an Angie’s List for your area. I’ve had excellent luck with all the trade’s people I’ve hired after finding them there. Plus they may have a Wells and Pumps section, I would assume anybody found there can find a well.

I believe submersible pumps will have a 4" cap at ground level for maintenance.

Newer ones might have the ground-level cap, but the one at my parents’ house doesn’t. If I dig down at the right point, I’ll hit a manhole cover about two or three feet down. The well shaft is below that. And I sympathize with the OP. About 20-25 years ago, we had to locate the well in the middle of winter without knowing its precise location. It was not fun digging in frozen soil.

One thing to try is to locate where the supply pipe enters the house. You might assume that the pump is located in a straight line out from there. It can’t be too close to the house, so perhaps start digging forty or fifty feet out?

Yes, dig a trench perpendicular to the way the pipe runs. That is going to be a bitch.

It would be good if you could call installers to discover who put it in.

Try ‘utility locating service’ to find a call before you dig company. You might also try to look for the well cap or an electrical box near where the well is at. I don’t know about PA, but here all water wells are recorded by the state engineers office, they also may have the location recorded. If not, they can tell you who drilled the well so you can find out who the installer is and call them. You might also want to call any well service company instead of a plumber.

Look under “Well Service” in the yellow pages, or yellowpages.com. You can find well specialists. That’s what I did when the tank on my well lost pressure. I need to have my pump serviced, but it’s expensive, and I now have connection to city water to the house. I usually use the well for watering the horses and flowers.


I believe they can put a signal generator on the line and trace it with a receiver.

The call before you dig folks are the guys.

Have you looked for your well in the PA state database?

Hardware store, but it won’t be able to see deep enough for a water line, as yours is probably below the frost line. It might help you find a well cap, which might be buried under something. Have you looked in the basement? Long ago, they drilled wells and built the house over it.

You probably have a pressure tank. Follow the source line into that and it will tell you in what direction to look.

In my state, plumbers are not legally qualified to do well work. You need a well driller/installer.

Short story: A metal detector helped me find it.

Long story: finding a metal detector sucked. Radio Shack, Lowes, Sears, KMart, Best Buy, Walmart-local, no one carries one. (I *really *thought Radio Shack would have one.)

Finally a Walmart 45 minutes away had a “childs” metal detector. Went and got one and found the well in 10 minutes.

They’re fixing it now.


Glad to hear you’re on your way to water. A fitting cracked on mine, like 5-6 feet below the ground. I was looking at thousands of dollars by the time they got a backhoe to the well, which included removing trees that had grown since the well was installed. I grabbed a shovel and got to work. Any movie that shows people digging a grave really glosses over how much work this is. Made me reconsider certain “plans” I had…:wink:

Hopefully the financial damage won’t be too bad.

If we had been a little more diligent we might have spotted it - but maybe not either. It wasn’t buried under leaves and stuff like we suspected, but it wasn’t right out where we were looking.

I will get some orange-glow spray paint and paint the cap. I doubt I’ll ever have a problem finding it again, but maybe it will help the next guy who owns the house.

Did you follow wire to the well casing with the metal detector? How deeply are the pipe and cable buried?