House wells are a fact of rural life , When you live out in the sticks your local Nannystate inc. doesn't bring you the benefits of such modern convinces water or sewer .
I will try to be comprehensive enough to explain things to someone with no experience with wells , and concise enough not to bore folks who have had some experience with them here .
A typical house well runs off a submersible electric pump that is located at the bottom of a stand of pipe some feet below the ground surface .
This system when installed properly is near bulletproof for the life of the pump motor or impellers or both which is in my area an average of 7 to 10 years .
The house well I speak to though was as close as I can remember last pulled out of the hole in 1977 or 1978. and was still running 1¼ steel pipe . The well had run pretty consistently until the mid 1990s and then sporadicly tapering off till it just set since 2000 or so . It needed some attention.
So occasionally when pulling a well things go wrong , bad wrong, and you wind up with the entire stand of pipe and pump setting on the bottom of the hole . This to say the least is not the happy place that you want to go to .
In this case there was not a " proper " well cap , and the pipe string was held up by a couple of 2x6 boards chiseled with a grove for the pipe then bolted together sandwiching the pipe between them while they rested on top of the casing . The top of the pipe string was a T with a plug in top and a pipe union coming out the side . Normal practice would be to unscrew the plug , and screw your wench attachment into the top of the t. Not gonna happen here .. plug was froze solid . no i mean 24" pipe wrenches with 4 ' cheaters on them solid . So to plan B.. throw a light chain around the pipe below the wood and suck it down tight to choke the T and bring it up till we could get on it with a pipe vice to pull from . Every thing worked according to plan right up until we pulled up on the chain , then in rapid order one of the 2x6s just detonated , rotten wood and splinters went everywhere , and the pump went to the bottom in a rapid and noisy fashion .
Once you have your pump setting on bottom rather than on top of the ground there are several possibilities and none of them are real pleasant .
If your well bottom is mud its likely that the pump and pipe drove themselves into it deeply enough that removal is may be impossible .
If your well casing doesn't go all the way to the bottom its likely that between the bending and distortion of the pipe and the cave in you just created removal is may be impossible .
If you have a good hard sandy bottom with casing going all the way to the end of the hole you stand a good chance of removing the pipe string and pump if you can get ahold of it .
The common thing in all of the above is that you are going " fishing " for a string of pipe . now understand , this pipe is seldom just standing in the well like someone leaned a stick in a corner . It may well have been profoundly bent from the force of the drop , and will have some number of feet of electrical cable on the top of it fowling the bore hole . Well fishing is always a hit or miss exercise in frustration and expense for every one concerned .
As long as the cable is intact and on top of the pipe you cannot get ahold of the pipe to lift it , and if you sent a tool down the hole to entangle the cable hoping to pull it off or break it you stand a chance of getting ahold of more than you really want to resulting in a tool now stuck in the bore further fowling it .
A large part of the problem is traditionally the " guesswork " involved . You just cannot see what you have down there to work with .
Try this .. take a 6" cooking pot to represent typical house well casing , wad up an extension cord to fit inside the it and place it a mere 50 ft away on its side . Now imagine how you are going to remove the cord from the pot without scratching it using a wench truck . I say without scratching it because if you are hammering on the pipe at this stage you are driving it deeper , bending it more , and adding to the problems you will face next .