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Old 01-15-2013, 08:05 AM   #1
Bill Rogue V.
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Default When well freezes over

Our well froze yesterday morning, and we have now been out of water for about 36 hours. Help is on the way, but boy, have I been taking my water and plumbing systems for granted!
When you get a glass of water, take a hot shower and flush the toilet, be grateful.

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Old 01-15-2013, 08:19 AM   #2
FishnMike
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Water probably froze in the pipe near the pressure switch. You can wrap the pipe with heat tape or place a light bulb right above the pipe.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: When well freezes over

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Originally Posted by FishnMike View Post
Water probably froze in the pipe near the pressure switch. You can wrap the pipe with heat tape or place a light bulb right above the pipe.
+1 on this

I have all the other pipes wrapped with heat tape, but that little 3/8 nipple that connects the pressure switch gets me every now and then.(it has to be ~0 degrees)
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: When well freezes over

So you are saying the plumbing from your well has frozen due to lack of an insulated sturcture around it?
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Is your pressure tank outside Bill?
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: When well freezes over -

Funny story, a week or so ago at my house the buried line froze between the well head and the shop wall where the cistern is buried. The well digger said only solution is digging up 10' of pipe 2-3 feet deep in frozen soil so get on it.

I looked at the pipe and it had a tee that I could get into so I decided to try thawing rather than digging in the frozen soil. I calculated the volume of the buried pipe, then went to the liquor store and bought two fifths of everclear. I put a 6" nipple in the tee for a stand pipe and filled it with as much grain as it would take. I had to top it off a few times; it took about 5 hours and most of a fifth, but it worked! Back in the hot shower and never lifted a shovel! True story! Now I have a fifth+ of everclear left over, maybe for next year!
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:48 AM   #7
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Default Re: When well freezes over -

http://www.pipethaw.com/ownersmanual.html

Or find someone that knows how to do it with a welder.

23 years in the Klamath Basin teaches you stuff.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:25 AM   #8
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Default Re: When well freezes over

I sincerely hope the water is back flowing soon. I can definitely relate!!

18+ years ago we found our current house. We loved the location, property size, house, outbuildings, et al, but we especially liked the price, which seemed way low. In applying for a loan we found out why; the community water system we were connected to was not approved, meaning before we could get a loan, we would need to invest in a home water filtration system.

I had a ton of experience operating large water treatment facilities and held both a water treatment and distribution certificate from the State, so I purchased and installed a high quality filtration system myself, and we got our loan.................

That's when the fight started!!

Constant interuption in service, often for a week or more at a time, water so turbid that I often had to change the $10 (each!!) membrane filters twice a day to keep water flowing to the faucet and a system owner that refused to listen or make any attempts to rectify the issues.

After two years a few neighbors and I decided we'd had enough and took our issue to the City Council. After months the Council finally decided they had no power to do anything about our situation, so we took the issue to the PUC.

They, fortunately, DID have the power and authority and forced the system owner to start improvements immediately, begining with a filtration system at the source. Wanting to be part of the solution verses the alternative, I volunteered my services to help design the filtration plant.

One evening the system owner brought the draft plans to my house for review. As we sat at the dining room table reviewing the plans, he says to me very matter of factly, "geez, the way I was forced into this you'd think having water was a God-given right".

That's when the second fight began, and by the end of my tirade I "think" he finally understood that while maybe not a God-given right, having water into your house when it is set up for that pourpose IS important and as the system owner, his paying customers have the right to expect that they not only to have water into their house, but water that is safe to use.

From time to time, we still go without water but it's usually due a leak or heavy summer usage and the (new) owner usually gives us several hours notice of impending outages or low storage and the need to conserve.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:34 AM   #9
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Find your blue pressure tank and the pipe associated with it. Put a small space heater there to heat up that pipe and the pressure switch, should get you flowing. The well itself shouldn't freeze up.

My heat cord on the pipe apparently went bad, mine froze up the other morning, so I went to the garage and plugged in the space heater, then opened some coldwater faucets in the house. About 30 minutes later I heard the water start flowing. Time for new heat cord.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:20 PM   #10
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Default Re: When well freezes over

When mine froze up a couple of years ago, it was just at the pressure switch, not allowing it to make contact with reduced pressure. Fixed it by pushing the points together with a screwdriver. The water flowing through thawed it out.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:06 PM   #11
Bill Rogue V.
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Guys, it has been a long day. The well service guy came over this morning. He looked at the pressure tank and water heater closet which is in a breezeway against the house, and said the little light bulb I had burning wasn't going to keep it warm enough. So I have had radiant space heaters on it all day, and a bought a small ceramic heater that will live in the closet from now on.
Our well head is enclosed by an 18-inch diameter concrete pipe with concrete lid. He pulled that off and looked at the grungy old insulation in it and said, this ain't gonna cut it. (Wish the same outfit would have mentioned this in September, when they did a flow test.) He worked it over with a propane torch to the point where he said the well head is no longer the problem. I got some water to move later in the morning, but then it stopped. The pump saver controller keeps testing the pump, and shutting off. After I heated the pipes and the concrete pipe with a torch two more times today, we are now warm and insulated at the well head, and warm and thawed at the pressure tank, so the frozen area must be between the well and the house, a distance of about 180 feet. We may just have to wait until the weather warms some more. I don't know what else to do. This is our second winter in this house, which is about 40 years old. This winter is certainly colder than last.
Not sure what this pressure switch thing is all about, but will focus on it tomorrow.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:30 PM   #12
RiverJohn
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Hope it all works out !
I never thought I would see the day that well freezes over !

Our freinds in Bellingham have the same exact issue every year and normally he says the bulb does it, not always though.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:56 PM   #13
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky Guy View Post
Funny story, a week or so ago at my house the buried line froze between the well head and the shop wall where the cistern is buried. The well digger said only solution is digging up 10' of pipe 2-3 feet deep in frozen soil so get on it.

I looked at the pipe and it had a tee that I could get into so I decided to try thawing rather than digging in the frozen soil. I calculated the volume of the buried pipe, then went to the liquor store and bought two fifths of everclear. I put a 6" nipple in the tee for a stand pipe and filled it with as much grain as it would take. I had to top it off a few times; it took about 5 hours and most of a fifth, but it worked! Back in the hot shower and never lifted a shovel! True story! Now I have a fifth+ of everclear left over, maybe for next year!
Genius!

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Old 01-15-2013, 05:08 PM   #14
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Default Re: When well freezes over -

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky Guy View Post
Funny story, a week or so ago at my house the buried line froze between the well head and the shop wall where the cistern is buried. The well digger said only solution is digging up 10' of pipe 2-3 feet deep in frozen soil so get on it.

I looked at the pipe and it had a tee that I could get into so I decided to try thawing rather than digging in the frozen soil. I calculated the volume of the buried pipe, then went to the liquor store and bought two fifths of everclear. I put a 6" nipple in the tee for a stand pipe and filled it with as much grain as it would take. I had to top it off a few times; it took about 5 hours and most of a fifth, but it worked! Back in the hot shower and never lifted a shovel! True story! Now I have a fifth+ of everclear left over, maybe for next year!
After drinking some of that Fire water ,Who cares if the pipes are froze
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:21 PM   #15
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Rogue V. View Post
Guys, it has been a long day. The well service guy came over this morning. He looked at the pressure tank and water heater closet which is in a breezeway against the house, and said the little light bulb I had burning wasn't going to keep it warm enough. So I have had radiant space heaters on it all day, and a bought a small ceramic heater that will live in the closet from now on.
Our well head is enclosed by an 18-inch diameter concrete pipe with concrete lid. He pulled that off and looked at the grungy old insulation in it and said, this ain't gonna cut it. (Wish the same outfit would have mentioned this in September, when they did a flow test.) He worked it over with a propane torch to the point where he said the well head is no longer the problem. I got some water to move later in the morning, but then it stopped. The pump saver controller keeps testing the pump, and shutting off. After I heated the pipes and the concrete pipe with a torch two more times today, we are now warm and insulated at the well head, and warm and thawed at the pressure tank, so the frozen area must be between the well and the house, a distance of about 180 feet. We may just have to wait until the weather warms some more. I don't know what else to do. This is our second winter in this house, which is about 40 years old. This winter is certainly colder than last.
Not sure what this pressure switch thing is all about, but will focus on it tomorrow.
Bill the prs. sw. can be detected by looking for a box about 2"x3" and it usually has an acorn type nut to hold the cover on and the prs. gauge is usually in the manifold.Under the prs. sw. cover is high voltage and a set of contacts(like points in an old car/truck distributor)when closed well pump/motor is running .when the prs. cuts off example @65psi the contact opens and the pump/motor stops,when the prs. drops to example 30 psi,the prs. sw. closes and pump/motor will start etc.Always turn power of when serviceing the prs. sw.If the prs. sw. is working correctly, usually means water lines are just froze.
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Old 01-15-2013, 05:49 PM   #16
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Many Many years back we had our well freeze in cold weather.

No one told me to turn the power off to the well. So the pump kept running.
Long story short..... the next time we were out of water was because the pump gave out. ChaChing $$$ New pumps and installation are every expensive!!

In preparation for cold weather I have done the following.
Well house pump pipes wrapped with heater tape.
Water lines are about 2-3 feet under ground.
The blue pressure tank and softener/filter setup are in an insulated room.
If it gets too cold I can supply heat to the insulated room.

Since I have done these things we haven't had any problems.

Country living can be a challenge at first. We've been doing it since 1976. Sure like it better than being in the city limits though.

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Old 01-15-2013, 07:33 PM   #17
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Default Re: When well freezes over

When I lived in AK my house had a well (weird deal- I was on a city sewer but had a well) but luckily it never froze. That would've sucked. The well head was usually buried under 6+ feet of snow, which probably helped.
The main thing was my house had a 5 foot deep insulated/heated crawl space (code up there) and my pressure tank was in there.

Steam thawing was a common fix up there, but I don't know if anyone down here does it, or if it would fix your problem.

Quote:
The pump saver controller keeps testing the pump, and shutting off.
What you're describing sounds like the pressure switch. I've never heard it called a "pump saver", but that's what it does.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:19 PM   #18
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Default Re: When well freezes over

I hope you get it resolved quickly. The lightbulb always did the trick when I was growing up. Our bigger problem was little frogs getting into the pump switch housing and getting fried.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:25 AM   #19
Bill Rogue V.
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Default Re: When well freezes over

We have a little bit of water this morning, but I'm going to wait for daylight to inspect things before I try to take that shower I am so eager for ...
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:02 AM   #20
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Does your pressure tank have a bladdar or is it just a tank of air? It could be waterlogged if it is just an air tank.
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:28 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Bill Rogue V. View Post
We have a little bit of water this morning, but I'm going to wait for daylight to inspect things before I try to take that shower I am so eager for ...
Have you got the water thing squared away yet Bill? Seems like a long time to go without a shower...
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:47 PM   #22
Bill Rogue V.
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Guys, I re-insulated the well head after treating the pipes with the propane torch and added a ceramic heater to the closet that contains the pressure tank, water softener and water heater. We are still getting just a trickle of water, which we use to fill gallon jugs and a couple of large stock pots. This is giving us enough to heat up for one-gallon "showers," cooking, washing dishes, flushing, etc.
But the line between the well head and the pressure tank remains frozen. I can find no evidence of a leak, but the ground is still frozen and we have snow and ice in the areas that aren't getting any sun.
The guys that put the line in are dead and gone, and I don't know exactly where it runs. We're hoping for it to warm up and rain SOON!

Tree surgeon, I have no idea on the pressure tank. Will look into it.
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:59 PM   #23
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Default Re: When well freezes over

When I moved to the woods, the previous owner had no idea of where all the underground stuff was. I contacted the utility locater place and they came out and located the power & phone lines for me and the guy also used his equipment to locate the water/power line out to the well head for me. Usually, they are both buried in the same trench. Yours "should" have been buried deep enough to not freeze but who knows.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:02 PM   #24
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Take a look at the pressure tank, the bladders go bad and the tank can fill with water, could be the cause for your lack of pressure. I had to replace mine last year, the tank was 15 years old. They are pretty easy to swap out if you can turn a pipe wrench.
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:10 PM   #25
Dave G
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Default Re: When well freezes over

I feel your pain. A couple of years ago our pipes burst outside and we had water all over the place except in the house. Two days later, the plumber came out and replaced an elbow right past the the sprinkler shutoff valve. Now when ever it gets down in the 20s, we leave a faucet trickling.
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:24 AM   #26
Bill Rogue V.
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Default Re: When well freezes over

Yeah, we may be looking at a new pressure tank and/or re-setting the well lines. Not my idea of a good time ...
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