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Thread: prevent well from freezing in cold weather

  1. #1

    Question prevent well from freezing in cold weather

    Just moved out to country and we have a water well. I keep forgetting to drip water when it dips below freezing then when I wake up I have no water (in all my faucets) until it warms up.

    Part of the problem is I don't have a cover (one of those fake plastic rocks or something) to cover it. Should I insulate it somehow before I put the cover on? I wasn't sure if wrapping the exposed pipes in some type of insulation was recommended. I attached picture of the part sticking out of ground.

    Also not exactly sure where it is freezing. I'm guessing it is where the pump is sticking out of ground or where my water line enters the house and goes to my pump (here only about a 6 inches is exposed going from house under ground and it is wrapped in some type of wrap.)

    Are there any other options other than dripping faucets every time it gets below freezing?

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  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005


    What part of the country do you live in. It will determine how / what degree to insulate.

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member rshackleford's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Eastern Montana (The Bakken)


    cover it up withs something and insulate it. place a light bulb inside on a thermal plug. make sure you don't set it up so that it starts a fire.

    put some heat tape with an self regulating thermostate on it and warp styrofoam insulation around that.

    if the temp only drops a little bit, you might get away with some heavy duty foam insulation on the pipes.

  4. #4


    I'm in Lake Wylie, SC and we only have about 3 months where it can get below freezing. We usually don't get below 20 degrees.


  5. #5
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    New Hampshire

    Default Things to Do

    The first thing you want to do is take a very legible picture of that tag on the pipe and print it out so you will have the information when you need it. You WILL need it. It is probably the data on the pump in the well.

    Here is one of what are probably hundreds of links showing how submersible pumps are installed.


    What you are looking at is not your pump. The large pipe is an extension of the casing of your well and contains no water above the ground. The small pipe is the pipe from your pump. Your pump is way down in the well.

    The part that is freezing is probably inside the iron pipe at the top of the well. If it freezes again you can apply a hair dryer or a torch to the metal parts, or a hair dryer to the plastic pipe, to thaw it out.

    The problem with it freezing is that it is very likely to damage your pump or your well piping. Submersible pumps should never be shut off tightly and that is what freezing the discharge line does. You are very lucky that your pump continues to work.

    In South Carolina you can probably insulate it in a way that will let some ground heat keep it warm. Here is my free engineered Well Hot-Cap.

    1. Get a round plastic trash barrel that will fit upside down over the well head, and another round barrel that is somewhat larger than the first.
    2. Put insulation in the bottom of the larger one so that when the smaller is inside the larger the tops are even.
    3. Stuff insulation into the space between the two barrels. Not too tight, just tight enough to keep it centered.
    4. Set the whole shebang over the well head and put a rock on it.

    You are free to make design improvements to fit the terrain and conditions on the site.

  6. #6

    Default thanks

    Hi Bob, thank you very much for the info. This is exactly what I was looking for. Yes, I tried a hair dryer on the iron pipe sticking out of the well the other day but I probably didn't hold it there long enough. I do have a closeup picture of all the technical info on the well for future reference. thanks again

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    On Albemarle Sound In Northeastern NC


    Excellent idea to take a good photo of the well information on the metal plate before it corrodes away. It should have the well depth, water level and other pertinent information about your well.
    The average homeowner should never heat a frozen pipe with a torch, which can cause a steam explosion. Use a heat lamp, heat tape, or hair dryer.
    There are a number of ways to prevent wells (and pumps) from freezing. Insulation is the key, of course, no matter what type of housing is over it (trash cans, fiberglass "rocks", brick or frame well houses, etc.).
    One good trick that I've always liked with a heat lamp in an insulated well or pump house (best) is to drill a hole in it towards the home large enough to caulk in a pop bottle bottom. That way you can always see if the heat lamp is working or burnt out, especially at night, from a window in your home.
    Good Luck!


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