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Thread: Frozen Well

  1. #1

    Question Frozen Well

    Our home (in Northern Michigan) was built in 2002. We had no trouble with the well until last January when it stopped working. The well driller pulled the well (265 ft) and determined that the impeller stack at the bottom had failed. They replaced the 'stack' and everything worked fine for about a week and then stopped again. That time they determined it was frozen at the T that leads to the house. They thought possibly when they pulled the well the first time that all the water draining onto the ground around the well had driven the frost line deeper than normal. We left a stream of water running for several weeks and then turned it off during a warm spell. Temps got cold again and it froze up again. The T that leads to the house is 5 ft below ground!

    Now this winter, on Monday, the temps got down to 5 degrees with a wind chill of about -30. When we got home from work, there was no water. We were only gone 9-10 hours. The well driller returned yesterday and it was frozen solid in the same place. He is completely mystified as to what could be causing this.

    The only remedy he can think of is to dig it up in the spring and drop the supply line to the house down another 2 or 3 feet. In the meantime, we'll probably have to leave the water running all winter to keep it from freezing again. The strangest thing is that we never had a problem before they pulled the well the first time for the impeller problem.

    Does anyone have any idea what could be causing this to freeze so far below ground and what we can do to remedy the problem?
    Last edited by chezmoose; 12-18-2008 at 07:46 AM.

  2. #2
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Could it be the 5* temps and high winds?

    I would guess the stack wasn't the problem and you have much colder weather now than in previous years (recall global warming reports).

    Maybe insulating the ground around the casing out maybe 6'-8'. Add heat in the casing down at the pitless adapter with a caged trouble light that can't allow the bulb to touch the casing pitless or pipe or over heat them. Cover the exposed casing with a -35* sleeping bag! Think of other ways to git'er done, or let the water run for the next 6-8 months.

    I have a vision of stacked 8-10' panels of high R rated foam insulation covered with a tarp covered with 6" to 12" of top soil or a few rocks/cement blocks so nothing can blow away and a fake rock over the casing after wrapping it, the casing, in some insulation, or, a box made out of panels and covered with a tarp and a big pretty rock. That assumes you're up to telling any neighborhood complainers to stuff it or provide you water 'til Memorial Day.
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  3. #3

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    Well, one would think that regardless of the air temp, that 5' underground would not be frozen, especially when there's a foot of snow on the ground. I believe our frost line is 40-42"? The surface of the ground did not seem to be frozen as we had to move birdfeeders, etc. to clear a path for the well truck. We have had a LOT of snow this year so far but that was the first really cold temps.

    I'm sure the well guy would never admit if the stack was not the problem the first time. Actually he gave us the old one, but I wouldn't know a good one from a bad one.

    The casing is only 4 or 5". I'm not sure there'd be enough room for a trouble light inside?

    Not really worried about what the neighbors think as we live in BFE, but it's in my front yard so I want something that I can live with when the ground isn't covered with snow. We did end up covering the area with straw and a tarp yesterday.

    Our well guy claims that in 33 years this is the first and only one he's ever had this problem with. Do you think dropping the pitless down another 2-3 feet would make any difference?

  4. #4
    Junior Member W.O.P Jeff's Avatar
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    Sorry. Is the problem at the pitless adapter? or the line?

    If it's the line freezing throw in some heatline (www.heatline.com) and that will solve that problem.

    Take a look at that site either way.

    We use that. Works great comes with a good warranty and wont melt your piping. There is other products that will do similar things. This cable is all self regulating. Will only heat when needed in that section of the pipe.

    Although if it is strictly your pitless I dont know how well this would work as it could cut the cable in the pipe and it is pretty expensive.

  5. #5

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    It appears to be freezing right at the pitless. There was some ice in the line where it connects to the pitless, but I think they were able to blow that through when they thawed out the vertical pipes.

  6. #6
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    When I lived in lower Michigan, I saw a pipe freeze that was six feet down at a bar. The traffic pushed the frost down that deep. Those guys walking around the well could have done this also. The problem is, how did it freeze in the first place. Cause if the impeller stack was nuked, it would/could have been from the frozen tee not letting the pump turn off. Then heat took over.

    Gary had a good idea or two on insulating it at least until you can do something different in the spring.

    bob...

  7. #7

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    Yes, that was their logic last winter when it froze, but now it happened again this winter. Where the well is located in our front yard gets zero traffic in the wintertime. There was a foot of snow on the ground when it froze.

    We're going to do our best to insulate it (and water proof it?) as best we can until spring but really need to figure out a permanent solution before next winter.

  8. #8

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    Couple of thought.

    I live where cold weather is a way of life. I suggest come spring time you have a yard hydrant (esentially a faucet that is attached to a galvanized pipe and hooked up to your water line) installed off your well beyond the pitless connection. This way if the problem reoccurrs you can walk out and open the hydrant and if see if the water flows; if it does you know the problem is not at the pitless connection. At 5' dep the water line should not be freezing. Where does your water line enter the house? I ask due to a problem I had with my water line.

    I had no water coming into the house from the well. I ruled out a pump problem by going out and opening the yard hydrant. Water was flowing. Next I shut off the pump so it did not burn it out. Now I had to figure out if the water line from my well was frozen or the pressure tank was bad.. I confirmed it was the water line by checking the pressure tank first. The pressure tank registered 0 lbs of pressure on the guage. I ruled out a defective pressure tank (bad bladder) because the tank was empty (tank was very light; if the bladder had ruptured the tank should have been full of water and very heavy).

    Anyway we were able to determine the most likely place for a frozen line to be where it entered the house. I knew the water line ran 5-6 feet deep right up to where it entered the house. Unfortunately where it entered the house it was only 1-2 feet from an outside wall. Making a guess this could be the area most at risk for freezing I set a space heater up and closed off the area. About two hours later I turned the well pump back on and all of a sudden the pipes started banging as the water pushed the ice blockage out of the way. Come spring I'll dig up the area where the pipe enters the house and bury a 4'X8' sheet of 2" about a foot deep. This should raise the frost level at the point where the pipe is most at risk. Good luck, jjj

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