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Thread: pitless adapter question

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    Default pitless adapter question

    Hi, I have a new well drilled in solid limestone. The pitless adaper has to be installed above the freeze line. When the line freezes will the pitless adapter crack? If so, any suggestions on how to drain the line to the submersible pump without removing the water line? I thought about putting a tee in the line from the pump below the freeze line and running a parallel line to the top of the casing and capping that line. Then in the fall I would remove the well seal, uncap the parallel line and using a bilge pump suck the water out. This well is at a seasonal uninsulated cabin. Any other ideas or products that would do the same thing? namred@hotmail.com

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    In the Trades maintenanceguy's Avatar
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    I've never seen anything like this so I'm just brainstorming. Never seen a well drilled through anything but sand and clay around here.

    In the old days, when hand pumps were the norm, they used to drill a tiny hole in the side of the drop pipe below the frost line. When you pumped water, a tiny bit dribbled out of the pipe but that wasn't really a big problem. When you would stop pumping, the water would drain down through this hole so there was never standing water that could freeze. It meant a few extra pumps before you got water each time but it saved the pump.

    Of course this only works with a submersible pump, if you have a pump at the top of the well, letting air into the line will break the vacuum and the pump will stop working.

    You'd have to install a check valve inside the house so the pressure in your tank didn't drop when the top few feet of pipe drained.

    the down side I see: eventually this tiny hole will erode into a bigger hole and air in the house plumbing. Maybe an air separator made for heating systems would solve that.
    Last edited by maintenanceguy; 09-21-2008 at 06:14 AM. Reason: can't type.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cobra View Post
    Hi, I have a new well drilled in solid limestone. The pitless adaper has to be installed above the freeze line. When the line freezes will the pitless adapter crack?
    Most wells are in limestone. The pipe and the pitless will all break if things freeze. If the pitless breaks just right, you could lose the pump down the well.

    Can you add dirt over the pipe and pitless? If not maybe insulation and dirt.

    Or add a valve below the pitless, and the frost line, that can be opened but, the water in the line from the pitless to the cabin would have to be drained also.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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    Electrician Chris75's Avatar
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    why even put the pitless above the freeze line? This makes no sense.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Slusser View Post
    Most wells are in limestone. The pipe and the pitless will all break if things freeze. If the pitless breaks just right, you could lose the pump down the well.

    Can you add dirt over the pipe and pitless? If not maybe insulation and dirt.

    Or add a valve below the pitless, and the frost line, that can be opened but, the water in the line from the pitless to the cabin would have to be drained also.
    Thanks for your input, everyone else's also. There is a slope from the well to the cabin, so the system would self drain if I open a valve at the lowest point, so the line to the tank and cabin should be OK. On the old well, using a jet pump, after removing and draining the pump, we never drained the black plastic lines from the old well to the cabin. They always froze since the limestone comes right to the surface, but they never broke or leaked, has been that way for 50 years. My guess is that the black tubing must expand enough when frozen not to break. I think I will proceed with my original plan, to put a 'T' in the drop line to the submersible pump and then run a parallel line to the top of the casing and cap that line. Then at the end of the season, will shut off power to the pump, drain the tank and lines and remove the wellcap and uncap that parallel line and using a hand bilge pump or a small electrical pump, suck water out of that line which is connected to the main drop line. I would put the connector 'T' to the main drop line down about 24 inches. Once that water is removed from the lines it should be below the freeze line inside the casing, so there should be no water near the pitless adapter inside the well, or outside the well. Since the limestone comes right to the surface, digging down a couple feet to install the adapter is not possible, and covering up the well with dirt and insullation would create quite a mound and because of its location, not too practical either. Anyway, I really appreciate your input, many thanks. Other ideas or suggestions always welcome. All the best....ken

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Just use a bleeder orifice in that tee below the pitless. Make sure there the only check valve in the system is the one on the pump itself. Then when you get ready to drain the system, just turn off power to the pump, and open a faucet in the house. When the tank is empty and there is no more pressure in the lines, the bleeder will open and let the water drain back to that point. When you need to start up the system, just turn on power to the pump, wait for all the air to come out the open faucet, then close the faucet. I have done lots of weekend cabins this way and it works great.

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    Pumps and well contractor for 25 years Schrammdriller's Avatar
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    The bleeder valve is a good idea, but all that I see do not shut off completely, [by design] so he will be losing water down the well constantly. Looks like a good place for a plain tank with checkvalve, schrader and air release valve.

    If he stays with just the checkvalve at the pump, he will need a positive shut off valve down the drop pipe, such as a small check valve tee'ed in. I have seen sprinkler system bleed down [ freeze] valves that might work.

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    Moderator valveman's Avatar
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    Old bleeders eventually leak but, that is because they open 50 or more times a day. A new brass bleeder with the brass ball inside will not leak when new, and since this is only used occasionally, it will last a very long time. Also Flomatic makes a spring loaded bleeder that has good positive closure. That one works like a spring loaded check valve that you are talking about. I use the spring loaded ones when they are deeper than 15', or the weight of the water keeps them from opening.

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    Pumps and well contractor for 25 years Schrammdriller's Avatar
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    In these parts, if you go to the well guy and ask for a bleeder valve, you will get a rubber valve that has a molded flapper that can only close part way due to a small molded tit that allows presure to bleed off [water to leak] when the pump is off. So if the guy goes with the valve, he just needs to be sure that it has positive shut off. I think it might be better to ask for a drain down valve, as "bleeder valve" has many definitions, including those on your brake lines. Just trying to get a better definition of the wording in case he goes this route, but we are on the same page.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    The rubber duck bill type is the only one I'm familiar with too, so I didn't mention it.

    Any positive closing type may not close if he has iron in the water. The place is going to be closed for most of the year.

    If this were mine, I'd go with a city water "curb stop" valve that can be opened/closed with a tee handle wrench for it that can be bought at Lowe's etc. or most plumbing supply houses. I'd install a tee with the valve on the side of the drop pipe at the right distance below the pitless.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

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