Well, after getting such bad news from the plumbers, and passing on what they told me to my brother, he gave me a call, and I’m feeling much more encouraged.
There is no one alive today that knows this farm and the systems that run it better than my brother. So when I told him in more detail about what the plumbers had said, he was torn between disbelief and laughter, that they would be so unfamiliar with, and intimidated by, the system we have. It’s still used a fair bit, and he had no problems finding a replacement for the basement pump.
He does not share their concerns about the immersion pump and that we might lose our water. This pump has been replaced about 4 times in the past 50 years, by his memory, and it has always been a relatively simple switch.
He will be coming out to do it himself. He just has to find the time in his own schedule to make the trip out. It was something we both hoped to avoid, but he’s frustrated by plumbers that are so intimidated by our old system.
By the end of the call, I was feeling much more encouraged. As much as I am willing to trust the professionals, my brother knows things about our system that they don’t. If he is confident that the pump can be switched out without causing problems in the well itself, I trust his experience.
Speaking of wells, I remembered to ask him if he remembered what happened to our old well, from before this one was dug. This pump was operated with electricity, but when we had power failures, we could attach a handle and pump it manually. I remember bits and pieces of when problems started, but not why. He told me that the water had started to come out dirty. His guess is that something collapsed in the pipes. I then got the lowdown on how that well was set up, including that it has a piston at the very bottom, some 80 feet down. So when it was first being pumped, it would take a while for the water to reach the top (I remember that time it took before water started to come out). Of course, once it was no longer being used for a long enough time, that water would slowly drain down again.
Theoretically, if I pumped long enough, I should be able to get water out of them, but it is most likely the pipes need to be replaced.
That opens up possibilities for us, since one of the things we want is to have a manual pump well as a back up if we ever lose power and can no longer get water from the well by the house.
I wonder if I should move things away from that pump and give it a try?