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Hand Dug Deep Wells

 
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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I have been brainstorming on the potential uses of a large hand dug well. Not sure whether the return investment in resources are sufficient enough to justify making one so I leave it to the jury. I looked into some text and found a potentially good book as far as detailed instruction on constructing a well goes: http://www.amazon.com/Hand-Dug-Wells-Their-Construction/dp/0903031272/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361417672&sr=1-1&keywords=hand+dug+wells.

What I was envisioning is something similar to this but roughly 60 to 100 feet deep and lined with cement rings. One curiosity I have regards filling the well to capacity in order to take advantage of the pressures generated by the well. I am unsure how long the water levels will remain but I suppose I could provide a pump to refill the well from a ground aquifer if needed.



Cooling
This was the most obvious other than a reservoir of water. I have heard that similar systems cool at 1/10th the cost of electricity compared to the energy required of compressors found in air conditioning units. I cannot confirm this number but if it is true, I could see this as an interesting design element for a home obviously but also a root cellar or large insulated walk in refrigerator. This can also employ a compressed air mechanism in place of water as a flowing liquid. At 100 ft depth the pressure can reach nearly 60 psi which will compress the air and release heat into the environment (the well water and ground).

Aging Wine and Cheese
In the article here http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/charleston-s-winery-age-wine-ocean-article-1.1269069 Mira Winery of Charleston, S.C. is testing this method to determine if the results are beneficial enough to pursue for larger production. I was blown away by a story here http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4729971.stm where a cheese maker dumped 1,700 pounds of cheese to be aged at a depth of 130 feet but the guy accidentally lost all the cheese. The idea was inspired by a diver who oddly ate a piece of cheese he found deep in the water. The method is untested so it cannot be considered safe.

"A few years ago, a fisherman came to us and said he'd found a piece of Boivin cheese at the bottom of a lake where he'd been diving," Mr Boivin told the AFP news agency.

"He took it, hesitated, ate it and told us it was one of the best cheeses he'd ever eaten."



If you got any additional ideas please fill me in and drop a line.

 
Posts: 76
Location: central illinois
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This is fascinating to me also although I've never hand dug a well. I have thought about digging one and applying ferrocement-- portland, sand & chicken wire-- as I dig down. Is it harder to breathe as you get deeper? I don't know the physics of many aspects of a, say 60' hole. Thanks for bringing up this topic!
 
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Sounds incredibly dangerous. Cave in?
 
Amedean Messan
pollinator
Posts: 928
Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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It is dangerous! The deeper you go the less oxygen is available so you will need to pump fresh air. Cave-ins are very possible, but there are techniques to mediate this risk. It takes a lot of labor to build one so I am debating in my head if it is worth it. Also there is the complication of water depth where if I leave the well open, or simply dig a deep cylinder and seal it off so that I can store water at a desired depth. If the well is open and not sealed, any water I put in will level off directly to the aquifer depth, hence lowering the water depth of the well.

I had an uncle who dug his own well to over 60 feet deep. I believe it took on and off a couple months, but it was very impressive that he did that with a shovel and pick ax alone!
 
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Hello, Just a quick thought/note. If you do start this endeavor be very aware of cave ins, Do not do this alone! It will not take much to leave you stranded under alot of earth! This can be a very dangerous hobby/improvement. Always work with another and do every thing you can to reinforce your safety
Good luck
Jon
 
Posts: 7692
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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At an old house site on our land there is a hand dug well about two feet or so across and twenty feet deep and a hand dug cistern about six or seven feet across and sixteen feet deep. Both are lined with stone. We siphoned all of the water out of the cistern once and saw that it is a beautiful cone shape and rock lined all of the way to the bottom.
The obvious labor that these required is such a wonderful tribute to homesteaders from the past who built so skillfully for survival with the materials at hand.
 
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