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locating underground pipes

realolman Member Posts: 513
I have a deck attatched to my house that I would like to turn into a screen porch.

I think I have to remove the deck and put larger and perhaps more posts under it

. Here's the problem. There are five geothermal wells and the accompanying pipes all pretty much in the area under the deck.. Is there any way I can locate these things?  They are four. five feet deep... somebody told me I could put stuff right on top of them.... that doesn;t seem like the thing to do to me,

There is a manifold of ten pipes going out of the basement. How would the pipes likely be routed?  I have talked to the previous owner and the guy who put in the heat.... niether one know exactly where the wells are and both said there was a drawing somewhere but neither knows where it is,,, the well company doesnt either,

they all know the area the wells are but not exactly where they are... in such a small area, I think I need to know exactly,


  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Underground Wells:

    Do these "wells" have pumps in them or are they return injection wells?

    If they are pumping wells, they must have pumps in them. Therefore, electrical wires in them. You should be able to locate them with a wire locator.

    But I have to ask? What kind of installer, geothermal and well driller/pump installer doesn't keep a record of where the wells are located. If you have pumps in the wells, what do you do when a pump fails?

    How do you know that the injection/return wells aren't plugged up and backing up?

    Some of these "expert" Geothermal Green guys haven't a clue about proper installation practices and are completely unregulated or inspected.

    Where I work, there were and still are a lot of geothermal going in and installed by a carpenter and his minions with water PEX, all iron circulators and piping and the water looks like coffee and the consistency of maple syrup. The iron in the water in some locations has fouled the HX and the systems are abandoned.

    And if submersible pumps, you are not supposed to bury the well casing underground. There's a vent in the cap that will let water and sand in and ruin the pump.
  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 988
    Locating pipes

    We use a thermographic company to locate pipes in walls, floors or underground. It saves a lot of time and is very accurate.

  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,393
    You may also want to call

    Dig Safe or whatever your local utility company calls it. If it is on your property and not connecting to the street, they may charge you, but they have the technology, magnetometers and in some cases ground-penetrating radar.

    Kind of makes the case for good photo documentation, doesn't it? Also, when the lines were buried, was safety tape used? Laid down about a foot above the surfaces, it can save your hiney.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,045
    Get two 1/8" brazing rods,

    Bend a 90 6" from an end. Hold them loosely in your hands pointing straight ahead of you and SLOWLY walk across the area. As you go over the pipes they will spread to parallel the pipeas you go over it. I cannot witch a well, but can find pipes accurately this way.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Pipe Locators:


    That method has worked for me as long as I don't believe it will work and I don't tell a customer I can find it with those. Then, I have probably been over 90% successful.

    I use two pieces of fish tape bent with a short Ell and stick them in two 1/2"X 6" Gav. conduit nipples with plastic wear caps bushings on the top.

    You really have to believe it works for it to work.

    As far as finding water, it helps to start over a spot where you know there is water. Then the wands will spread away. When you hit the stream, they come back.

    But it doesn't work. It's witchcraft. Except for the times it has worked.
  • realolman
    realolman Member Posts: 513
    edited February 2011
    everything has to be tight and deep

    the area I am talking about is approx 16' x 16'. right beside the house.... under a deck...

    five wells and the connecting ditches and piping all within that area someplace ( I'd say pretty near everyplace) AND four  or five feet in the ground.

    There are no pumps... there are five loops that originate and return to the basement...

    Apparently they dig these things, stuff a loop of pipe in it (167 feet deep) and fill it back up with something and bury the whole shebang and forget it.... apparently no concern with fixing anything.

    The thing works exellently...  guy unscrewed a cap off the pump "reservoir" and it was still full and slightly colored with anti freeze... no water lost in seven years.

    I just wish I knew where the pipes and wells were so I could redo the deck into a screen porch.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Who Do VooDoo Location services....

    Before I go much further, let me explain that my mother was a well witcher, and she passed the God given talent on to me. Actually, I think most people have the ability to do so, but don't believe they do, so they don't use it.

    That said, I've used copper wire for doing this pipe line location before, but never used anything other than copper. That's what my father taught me, and his father taught him.

    I can use any kind of "Y" branch (cherry trees, willow preferred, but anything alive will work) to witch out the aquifer, but have never used THAT methodology to try and find buried water lines.

    I have successfully located numerous water wells in my life time. I was trying to explain it to a well driller once, who laughed at me, and said he uses a June Bug in a jar of water, and walks around with the jar watching the June Bug, and whenever the June Bug farts, that is where he drills his well... He was kidding of course.

    I have a friend who is a renowned professional witcher, who doesn't (can't) charge for his services, other than being re-imbursed for travel expenses, who can not only tell you where the strongest aquifer is, but can also tell you how deep to hit the water, and how long the standing column of water is. He has a 98% track record for these services.

    Technically speaking, unless someone had the forethought to install a trace wire along side the buried pipes, the chances of you finding it with any off shelf technology is slim to none. You would have to SUPER heat the lines to be able to see them with Infrared, and I don't think that's going to happen because the PE has temperature limitations...

    There is ground penetrating radar, but I have zero experience with it,

    Best of luck in finding them the easy way.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
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