27th June 2007
Last Thursday night I was out watering the horses (which I do just about every day.) On my way out, I noticed that our well pump was running (before I turned the water on.) I decided to give it a few minutes to see if it would build pressure and turn off. It didn’t.
I called the well guy Friday morning and left a message. Didn’t hear back from him until Monday. My wife and I spent the weekend running out and flipping the switch on the well when we needed water, the turning it off again when we were finished. The pressure tank was still holding pressure so we could flush the toilet a few times and wash our hands without running out. Good thing to, it was a bit of a pain in the butt…
The earliest the well guy could get here was Tuesday, he was squeezing us in between appointments. He showed up about 10 am yesterday morning and started pulling the pump up out of the well. I noticed the galvanized pipe that fed our water supply was very rusty (so much for being galvanized…). The third 20′ section had a quarter-inch diameter hole in it. That explained why the pump wasn’t able to make enough pressure to trigger the switch and turn itself off. Essentially it was just circulating water in the well all day long. He continued pull the rest of the pipe/pump out to inspect it. The pump was about 85 feet down in the well and was covered in rusty sludge… Parts of the pump had fallen off and he estimated it to be about 20 years old (normal life span for a pump averages 9-10 years in his experience).
He recommended we replace all of the pipe with new pipe because it was all rusty. Said he could put the old pump back in, saying “it might last six months, might last two years”… I opted for a new pump and pressure switch since I am of the opinion that it is better to spend a bit more money to fix things right than to only do the minimum and have to pay to have the guy come out again to fix the next problem. In about an hour they had everything back together, wired up and happily pumping 15 gallons a minute out onto the ground to clear out the rust. Apparently we have a very good well for this area. Many people barely get enough water to run a shower once their pressure tank is empty.
Total bill: $1,307.89
This is a small town with a lot of small business owners. Many of them, my well guy included, don’t take credit cards because it wipes out a lot of their profit margin. Having money in the bank allowed us to get the problem fixed and we likely won’t have to see the well guy again for 5-10 years.
While $1,300 isn’t a tremendous amount of money to us, it occurred to me that many people would be devastated by such an expense. How much money you need to have saved is really a function of many variables in your life. Think about all of the things that could go wrong, requiring you to spend money to fix them immediately. Well pumps, water heaters, furnaces, cars all break eventually. Are you prepared to handle them when they do? If not, I strongly urge you to delay some creature comforts until you’ve saved up whatever amount you’re comfortable with. You may also find that the habit of saving sticks with you after you’ve reached your goal allowing you to continue saving money you didn’t realize you had.