Wa­ter well depth; mould; mois­ture is­sues

The Southern Gazette - - Saltwire Homes - Steve Max­well House Works House Works by Canada’s Handi­est Man’ Steve Max­well fea­tures DIY tips, how-to videos and tool prod­uct re­views.

Q: How can I fig­ure out how deep my wa­ter well is? I have to get a new wa­ter pump but the sup­plier wants to know how far down be­low ground level the wa­ter is.

A: When it comes to wa­ter wells, there are two im­por­tant di­men­sions in­volved. One is the to­tal depth of the drilled or dug hole in the ground, and the other is the dis­tance of the wa­ter be­low the sur­face of the ground when no wa­ter is be­ing re­moved from the well. This sec­ond num­ber is the most im­por­tant for choos­ing a new pump and it’s called the static wa­ter depth. I’ve used a laser dis­tance mea­sur­ing tool aimed down the well to de­ter­mine wa­ter level, but this only works when the wa­ter is no more than about 30 feet be­low the sur­face. Deeper than that and it’s hard to hit the wa­ter with the laser beam.

The sim­plest and most re­li­able way to mea­sure static wa­ter level in­volves noth­ing more than a weight on a string. Any kind of weight that can be tied se­curely to a strong string will work. It’s sur­pris­ing how eas­ily you can hear the sound of the weight en­coun­ter­ing the wa­ter as it’s low­ered, even in a deep well. Tie a knot in the string at ground level when you hear wa­ter splash from the weight, then pull up the string and mea­sure the length to the knot.

Solv­ing cold room mois­ture prob­lems Q: What can my son do to make the cold room un­der­neath the front steps of his house free of ice and mois­ture? There are cur­rently wa­ter droplets on the ceil­ing and last win­ter there was lots of frost on the up­per walls. The wa­ter pipes that run through the cold room some­times freeze in win­ter, too. Would some kind of vapour bar­rier on the in­side walls help?

A: Mois­ture and frost prob­lems with un­der-the-steps cold rooms are very com­mon and the rea­son is lack of soil to pro­tect the ceil­ing and up­per walls. This is why typ­i­cal cold rooms get too cold in win­ter and too warm in sum­mer. The so­lu­tion is to add some kind of in­su­la­tion to the un­der­side of the ceil­ing and that part of the walls that ex­tend down to 12 inches be­low ground level. Closed-cell spray foam in­su­la­tion will do the job, and so will sheets of ex­truded poly­styrene foam with edges sealed to pre­vent in­door air from get­ting be­hind the foam. Don’t use the white beady type of in­su­la­tion be­cause con­den­sa­tion will form be­hind it. Also, you don’t want to in­su­late the cold room too far down be­cause that would stop the cool­ing ac­tion of the soil from low­er­ing tem­per­a­tures in the sum­mer. Down­load de­tailed plans for up­grad­ing a typ­i­cal cold room at bai­leylineroa­d.com/col­d­room-fix.

Killing base­ment mould Q: Do I need to clean a mouldy area in my base­ment be­fore killing the mould? The growth is only a cou­ple of feet high in one cor­ner and I plan to use Con­cro­bium.

A: You can treat the mouldy area with­out clean­ing the stains off first as long as the area is dry. Con­cro­bium needs to be able to dry out af­ter ap­pli­ca­tion to kill mould and mould spores. It kills by me­chan­i­cally crush­ing mould or­gan­isms on a mi­cro­scopic level. This is how it can work with­out be­ing toxic to peo­ple. Af­ter killing the mould clean­ing of the stains is op­tional but it’s a good idea. With clean walls you can eas­ily see if the mould is com­ing back later. If you do see it, kill and clean again, then coat the wall with wa­ter­proof paint. Xypex or Dry­lok are two brands that I know work well.


Mould like this is not un­com­mon in base­ment cor­ners. Any reg­is­tered fungi­cide will kill mold with­out pre-clean­ing.


Re­move the cover off a well like this and there are two ways to mea­sure how far down the wa­ter is. Drop down a weight tied to a string, or use a laser dis­tance mea­sur­ing tool.

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