Education Center

 

Empower yourself with knowledge- see below

Click the question to see answer. Click again to close the box.

PRICING / COST

  • The price of a well depends on several factors.  It is very important to ask a well drilling company what its initial estimate covers. 

    Specifically, does it include:

    • Mobilization
    • Fuel
    • Water for drilling if no water is present on site
    • Actual drilling of the borehole
    • Pilot/test hole
    • Cost of drilling through rock if expected or encountered
    • Cost of drilling through cobble if expected or encountered
    • Cost if target well depth is not reached
    • Blank casing
    • Perforated casing
    • Gravel, what type
    • Developing – what type (air lift, pump), and duration of time
    • Site clean up
    • County/State required seal
    • We provide an estimate that includes all of these items in the final price.
  • We work hand in hand with our sister company Belknap Pump to offer customers a turn-key estimate that can include a complete well and water pump system.

  • This covers the cost of moving all the equipment to the job site and may vary based on the distance of the job from the drilling company’s location. 

  • The drilling operation can use up a lot of fuel and some companies are not equipped to self-deliver fuel to the site.  We have trucks equipped to refuel our equipment on the job site and do not charge extra for fuel.

  • When drilling with the direct, or reverse rotary processes, several thousand gallons of water are required for the drilling operation.  Some companies are not equipped with water trucks and incur added expense to get the required water and therefore charge you to provide the water.  We have a fleet of water trucks and trailers and do not charge extra for water.

  •  Yes, some existing wells can be rehabbed/repaired to improve water production and/or reduce the amount of sand being pumped.  Using special tools chemicals and processes we are able to fix many of the problems that reduce water output or cause sandy water in old open bottom and gravel pack wells or new wells that weren’t constructed correctly. 

    For open bottom wells, we can provide the following services to help increase water production, reduce sand or improve the pumping water level:

    • Clean out sand that has filled in well cavity
    • Perforate existing casing (punch holes in casing to allow available water to flow into the well from the sides)
    • Well deepening
    • Install liner (put a smaller diameter casing down the middle of the existing well)
    • Repair broken casing
    • Compressed air developing
    • Pump developing

    For gravel pack wells, there are numerous things that can be done to increase water production, reduce sand or improve the pumping water level:

    • Clean out sand that has filled in well
    • Acidize and brush casing to unplug perforations and gravel pack
    • Plunge and zone develop
    • Compressed air developing
    • Pump developing
    • Repair broken steel or pvc casing
    • Install liner
    • Add perforations to existing casing
    • Chemically break down drilling mud in newer wells (1-5 years old) that is plugging up perforations and/or gravel pack
  • The cost can change for several reasons.  A different, more expensive drill bit is used to effectively drill through the rock and it generally takes longer than drilling through sand and clay – these special bits and the extra time required to drill through rock tends to increase cost.  Some companies charge extra by the foot, and others by the hour for drilling through rock.  There can also be potential savings as sometimes casing is not required in the rock.

  • Drilling through cobbles requires a more expensive rock bit.  Also the cobbles have a tendency to cave in the borehole, and certain measures must be taken to ensure cobbles do not cave in on top of the drill bit, ruin the hole and possibly cause the loss of the drill bit and drill pipe.  Sometimes it is necessary to install steel casing while drilling to maintain the integrity of the hole. 

  • Yes, pending credit approval, a payment plan can be setup. 

  • Yes, we take all major credit cards.

TECHNICAL

  • A pilot hole is a small hole, from 8” to 12” in diameter that is drilled to a target depth to explore the ground and water conditions.  Our company has electronic down-hole testing equipment that can be used to accurately determine sub-surface conditions so that we can be assured of adequate, quality water available before spending the money to open up the borehole to the final design diameter.  This is an inexpensive way to confirm you will have a good well before committing to the cost of a complete well.

  • An open bottom well is a type of well that provides water from only one strata.  Steel casing, without a cap on the bottom, is driven into the ground and landed in a clay section.  A drill bit then drills below the casing until a water bearing sand strata is found.  Then sand is physically removed to create a large cavity, and water enters the well from that cavity. 

  •  A gravel pack well is a type of well that generally gets its water from several strata.  An oversized hole is drilled to a target depth.  Then a smaller diameter casing is installed inside that hole with a cap on the bottom.  Perforated casing (pipe with small slots in it) is installed in the water bearing zones while blank casing is used in all other areas.  While the casing is suspended in the hole, gravel is placed around the casing, creating a filter that allows water to enter the well, while filtering out sand.

  • We drill both types of wells.  In specific areas, a successful open bottom well can be drilled.  Open bottom wells might be recommended for agricultural wells with a shallower water depth.  Steel casing is driven into the ground and landed in a clay layer.  Then the hole is drilled deeper to a sand layer.  The sand layer is then developed out to create a cavity.  All the water that the well can produce comes from this cavity.

    Gravel pack wells are recommended for both domestic (house) and agricultural wells.  An oversized hole is drilled to a certain depth and generally goes through several water bearing strata.  Then casing is suspended in the drilled hole.  The casing is usually 6” smaller in diameter than the hole to allow for a gravel envelope around the casing.  Perforated casing is used in the water bearing zones to allow water to enter the well through the gravel pack.  The gravel pack acts as a filter to help keep sand out of the well water.

PRE-DRILLING PROCESS

  • The gravel type and size is determined once the drilling samples are analyzed, visually and put through a series of stacked screens that tell us the size of the sand.  The goal is to select the largest gravel pack that will minimize the amount of sand passing through. 

  • Each county has specific rules about new well placement including setbacks from property lines, septic systems, etc.  We also work with the customer, the pump company, electrician and anyone else involved in the project to determine the best possible location from the new well.  Some considerations are how to get electrical power to the new well, and how to plumb the new well in to the customer’s existing water system. 

     

     

  • The casing size is based on several factors, but the most important factor is how much water the customer needs on a gallon per minute (gpm) basis.  A typical house well includes either 5”, 6” or 8”diameter casing.  Agriculture well casing can be anywhere from 8” to 24” in diameter.

  • The final depth of the well is determined by several factors.  Every area is different, but the overall objective is to drill a well that can provide the required amount of water (in gpm) for a projected timeframe.  If you are only concerned about having well water for your home for the next 10 years because you expect city water lines to be extended to your area by then, you can drill to X ft deep.  If you want an Ag well that has the best possible chance of surviving future droughts when your grandkids are farming the land you may drill to Y ft deep.  Some of our customers drill 100 – 300 feet deeper than other wells in their area as a form of insurance against future droughts.  In addition, many customers are concerned that pending state government regulations that are in process will restrict or prohibit their ability to drill a new well in the future.  So they are drilling the wells they expect to need for the next 50 years to depths that have the best possible chance of providing water for 50 years.

  • There are different types of gravel used in gravel pack water wells.  The two standard types are natural rock and silica.  We recommend the best type of gravel based on sub-surface conditions and water production requirements for the new well.  Gravel type and size are determined once the drilling samples are run through a set of sieves and analyzed.  Natural rock is used because it is generally well rounded, but in certain situations it has the potential to degrade over time.  Silica is good because of its uniform size and the fact that it does not degrade over time.  Although silica is more expensive, there is an abundance of sizes to choose from which provide various options to get the most amount of water from your well, while minimizing the amount of sand in the well water.  We stock 8-10 different sizes of silica at all times, and 2-3 sizes of natural rock. 

  • Well design is a very important part of the well construction process.  The well driller is in charge of the safety on the drill site, drilling a straight hole, and providing accurate samples that can be analyzed.  The final well design is based on the samples we obtain during the drilling of the borehole (or pilot/test hole) and our knowledge of other wells in the nearby surrounding area.  Either Scott Belknap, or his son Scottie, finalize every well design.

  • An E-log is a sophisticated electronic testing system that includes a probe sent down after the borehole is drilled, but before the casing is set, that helps to confirm the well log produced from visual inspection and sieve analysis of the cuttings.  The E-log provides precise information on the type of subsurface soil formations that were drilled through and also the salt content in the water.  An E-log gives us additional information that helps to fine tune the final design of the well including placement of perforated casing and selection of gravel pack.  We have a specialized van setup to perform E-log tests and down-hole well videos.

     

  • A deviation test is accomplished by sending a special tool down the borehole, after the borehole is drilled to target depth, but before the casing is set.  The tool provides precise information on the straightness of the borehole.  Our E-log, well video van is setup to perform deviation testing as well.

DRILLING PROCESS

  • We use both steel and PVC casing.  PVC casing is corrosion resistant, which eliminates the possibility of rust plugging up the perforations.  In certain situations, gravel pack, steel cased wells can have potential problems with rust and encrustation around the perforations, which chokes off the water flowing into the well.   Cost and water quality are the factors that typically drive the decision to use PVC or steel casing.  We sometimes use a mix of PVC and steel casing when deep seal depths are required.

  • Yes, we use both hammer bits and TCI button bits. We can drill a 5” – 28” borehole through hard rock.

     

  • Yes, we can drill through cobbles and install casing ranging from 5” to 24” in diameter.

  • Yes, our sister company Belknap Pump has been servicing and installing water pump systems for almost 40 years.  The two companies work hand in hand so we can easily provide a turn-key estimate that will include the new well and a complete water pump system.

     

     

     

  • We currently use Baroid drilling chemicals.  We use a bentonite clay called Quick Gel that helps stabilize the borehole and lubricate our drill bit.  There are also polymers called Quick Mud Gold, and EZ Mud Gold that help further stabilize the borehole and are used when drilling in specific sands and clays.

  • We dig a large pit near the new well that allows most of the solids to settle out before the drilling fluid is recirculated down the hole.  To further clean the drilling fluid we also use a trailer mounted mud tank cleaning system with a series of pumps and screens, that physically remove solids from the drilling fluid.  This helps to ensure that clean drilling fluid is used as excess solids in the fluid can permanently ruin a new well. 

  • A pit is required to allow the cuttings from the hole to settle out, so they are not recirculated back down the hole.  If native clay gets grinded up and mixed with the drilling fluid, it can permanently plug the water bearing strata in the well, and reduce the amount of available water.  It is possible to drill without a pit, but it does cost more to do so.

  • We can drill to 1,500 ft for domestic and agricultural wells.

  • The actual drilling operation can typically be completed in 1 day for small domestic wells while large agricultural wells can take up to 7 days.

  • Drilling a straight well is a critical part of the well drilling process.  A heavy piece of drill rod, known as a drill collar is placed directly above the drill bit to help maintain a straight borehole.  In addition, a stabilizing wing collar is used to reduce any deflection of the drill bit in case it hits an uneven formation while drilling

COMPANY INFORMATION

  • We can usually get started drilling an emergency replacement well within 1-2 weeks.

  • We currently have 13 drill rigs in our fleet.

     

     

  • We have several brands and models of drill rigs and they are listed as follows:

    • Foremost DR24 (we have two of these rigs – it can drill and install 24” diam. casing at the same time)
    • Gefco 30K – reverse circulation (we have two of these rigs – they are smaller and require less space which minimizes the removal or trees/vines near the new well location)
    • Gefco 22RC – reverse circulation
    • Gefco 40T – reverse circulation
    •  Gefco 20K – direct circulation
    •  Gefco Quick Drill
    • Atlas Copco TH60 – 40,000 lb pullback direct circulation
    • Atlas Copco TH60 – 70,000 lb pullback direct circulation (we have two of these rigs)
    • Bucyrus Erie cable tool rig
  • Most of our equipment is only 1-4 years old.  This includes drill rigs, mud tank units, excavators, and service trucks.  Reliable equipment is a very important part of our customer service program.  We don’t ever want out customers waiting on us due to a problem with our equipment.  Older equipment can break down on the job, and once you start drilling a new well, it is critical to finish it in a timely fashion.  Taking too much time to drill can permanently hurt the performance of the well.

LEGAL

  • Each county has a specific fee for the permit.  Typically the cost ranges from $300 – $2,000.  It is important to check with the county at the time you plan to drill. 

  • Each county has their own time frame.  A Tulare County permit is good for 1 year, Fresno County: 180 days.  It’s important to check with the county at the time you plan to drill.

  • Each county has different time frames for issuing permits.  Tulare and Fresno Counties average 1-5 days, whereas other counties can take 4 weeks or more.

  • Each county has specific seal requirements.  The upper portion of the well must have an outer seal installed.  The seal consists of a specific non-porous material, such as cement, to minimize the chance of any above ground or shallow subsurface substances (such as chemicals spilled on the ground around the well) from contaminating the ground water.  The state minimum is 20 ft, while some counties require much deeper seals of 300 ft or more.

MISC / OTHER

  • The State of California and each county have specific rules about when and how to abandon old wells.  For example, in Tulare County, if the new well is located within 50 ft of an old well, it must be destroyed.  Tulare County also requires you to destroy any well that is not in use or pay a yearly fee of $92.  It’s best to check with the county at the time of drilling the new well, as the rules and permit cost are subject to change.

  • Developing a well is the process of removing the drilling fluid from the well and removing any fine sands.  Development is done after the well is drilled and cased.  It typically involves injecting a large amount of high pressure air into the well via an airline to cause water to surge up and out of development pipe temporarily installed in the well.  Development pumps may also be used to over-pump a well to improve the overall performance of the well.

     

  • There is no set time for the lifespan of a well.  Errors made during drilling can reduce the productive life of a well.  In addition, poor water quality can limit the lifespan of a well with steel casing.  Most wells reach the end of their life when either the water level drops so much that the well drys up or the casing fails.

  • Since well drilling is a mixture of art and science and each well is unique, there isn’t any way to determine the exact amount of water a well will produce, but we have a general idea based on the samples taken during drilling of the borehole (or pilot/test hole) and knowledge of other existing wells in the surrounding area. 

  • With direct circulation the drilling fluid is pumped down the hole through the center of the drill pipe and out the bottom of the drill bit then it carries the cuttings and returns up to the surface between the outside of the drill pipe and the borehole wall.        

    With reverse circulation, the drilling fluid runs into the hole and is sucked up through the center of the drill bit carrying the cuttings and returns to the surface through the inside channel of the drill pipe.  After running the fluid through the settling pit and mud tank system, gravity takes the fluid back to the bottom of the hole.  Each type of drilling has its advantages in certain situations.  Once we have a good understanding of our customer’s area and the required specs for the new well we make a decision on which type of drilling method to use.

     

     

  • There are some instances where subsurface conditions can change the projected target depth.  For example, if hard rock is encountered at a shallower depth than expected, a decision has to be made whether or not to spend the time to drill through the rock and try to find water bearing strata below the rock. 

  • While rare, earthquakes can damage wells.  When the ground shifts, the tremendous forces exerted can shift or even break the well casing.

  • Yes, all wells need to be disinfected before drinking from them.  The disinfection should be the final step and should be completed by the company that installs the pump in the new well after their work is complete.

Have a question you don’t see listed? Call us at (559) 591-9355 and we’ll be happy to help!

Ready to get your free quote? Click the button below to get started!

Request a Free Quote

Information on this site is not legal advice and is only to be used for educational purposes.