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Mobile Well Drilling Rig
This is a typical mobile well-drilling rig. The giant tower folds down parallel with the ground as it travels on roadways. (C) Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Drill a Well

QUESTION #1: Tim the Builder, I’ve got a question for you. I live in a big city and am tired of the chlorinated and polluted water that flows through the city water mains. Is it possible to have my own well water as people out in the country have? How does water get into wells and what are the downsides to having your own well, if there are any? Connie M., City Anytown USA

I
grew up in a big city in Ohio whose primary water supply was the Ohio
River. Any number of chemical factories and giant sewage treatment
plants were upstream from my city. The outflow from the sewage treatment
plants is disgorged daily into the Ohio River and flowed towards the
water plant intake pipes of my hometown.

Growing
up I had no idea about all of this and grew accustomed to the taste and
smell of the chlorine in the water. I do have a memory of a raging
debate many years ago when it was announced that fluoride would be added
to the city water supply.

Ten years ago, I moved from that city to a rural part of New Hampshire where I have my own water well. Each house for miles around me has their own private water well. We have natural springs in several towns near me with water spouts and filling platforms. People bring giant ten-gallon containers and fill them with this natural pure water. When I got back to my old city to visit friends, I take my own water with me to drink because the chlorinated water coming from the faucets is now revolting to me.

The
simple answer to Connie’s question, and you may have wondered if you
can have your own well, is yes. Yes, you probably can drill your own
well on your property. You, of course, would have to contact your local
building department to see if there are any regulations that must be
followed. Some states and cities may still charge you for the water
that’s pulled from your land, but that’s a debate for another day.

Water
is under the surface of the ground in almost all locations on the
planet Earth. My college degree is in geology and I had a focus on
hydrogeology – the study of groundwater. The bedrock that’s under the
soil cover almost always has cracks and seams in it. Gravity pulls
rainwater into this network of interconnected cracks.

It’s
important to realize that some locations and valleys are filled with
hundreds of feet of sandy gravel. These underground deposits are like
giant underground lakes filled with delicious pure water, so pure that
bottled water companies locate their plants above these gravel deposits
and suck the water out of the ground and put it into bottles that you
pay a hefty price for. A water-bottling plant is located just fifteen
miles from my current house and it extracts tens of thousands of gallons
of water from the bedrock each day.

The
issue is it’s not all unicorns and rainbows when it comes to drilled
wells in a densely populated area like where you or Connie may live.
Industrial pollution from years before could have introduced toxic
chemicals that still linger in the groundwater.

Nearby
property owners may routinely treat their lawns with toxic weedkillers
and unnatural chemicals to have the perfect green lawn. Common sense
dictates that these chemicals may leach down into the groundwater. If
this happens, your well water could be dangerous to drink.

Drilling a water well can also be expensive. Well drillers commonly
charge by the foot and they need to drill down far enough until the well
produces a minimum of three to five gallons of water per minute is
achieved. Ten or fifteen gallons is preferred. If you’re lucky like my
daughter, you’ll get 80 gallons per minute.

The trouble is that in many locations well drilling is mostly chance. I’m reminded of the scenes in the famous 1948 Cary Grant movie Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home where the honest well driller couldn’t get enough water flow after drilling many, many feet into the bedrock. He then moved his rig just a few feet away and hit a massive amount of water in no time at all. If you’re lucky and strike a plentiful supply of naturally pure water on your land, you’ll marvel at the taste of the clear elixir!

Hardwood Floor Scratches

QUESTION #2: Tim, I’m in a bind. I won’t name names to protect the guilty, but my gorgeous hardwood floor got scratched. Some of the scratches are just in the clear finish but are visible. Other scratches are deep and extend into the hardwood. I can’t fathom removing all the furniture to have the floors refinished. Can these scratches be repaired and if so, how? Allen W., Wichita, KS

I’ve
got good news for you if you share the same exact problem as Allen.
Scratches in hardwood floors can be repaired. You don’t have to refinish
the floors to restore them to their former luster and shine.

There
are numerous DIY methods for disguising shallow scratches that are in
the clear coat finish. The method I’ve had the most success with is shoe
polish of all things! You can get the paste shoe polish in different
colors. One of the colors may be a perfect match or you may have to
blend colors to get the exact color you need.

I use a cotton swab and just try to put a tiny spot of the polish on the scratch. Always start with a color that’s lighter than your current floor color. It’s easy to go darker, but tough to reverse the process. Once you get the perfect match, then allow the polish to dry and use other cotton swabs to apply a protective coat of clear urethane over the shoe polish. Be sure to match the same sheen as you currently have on your floor.

Deep scratches require the services of a professional. In almost all cities and large towns, you can discover true artisans that do furniture repair. The top furniture sellers in a city or town use these people all the time. The craftsmen have a magic box they bring to your home with a tiny alcohol lamp, hard lacquers, and other colored materials. They can fill the deep scratches in your hardwood floor, create matching grain and puff onto the floor an aerosol mist such that you’ll never know the floor was ever scratched.

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