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How Do I Prevent a Well from Freezing?

We experience extremely cold temperatures during winter where I live. Are there ways to prevent our well from freezing at night during the winter?

First of all, a well is typically drilled or bored very deep and does not freeze because of its depth below ground. Even in shallow wells, the water level is below the frost line. The frost line is the depth below ground that is susceptible to freezing. This frost line depth will vary from northern states to southern states. A typical frost line depth is 32-48 inches. Therefore, the water supply pipe from the well to the house should be buried below the frost line.

There are two popular types of well pumps used. The first type is the deep well pump. This pump is actually located near the bottom of the well and it pushes the water from the well into the house. Since it is located a couple of feet off the bottom of the well, it has a tendency to collect sand and silt, which can clog the pump. For this reason, the pump does require regular maintenance.

The second type of well pump is a jet pump, which pulls the water from the well and is located either in the house or basement. This pump needs to be kept in an area where the temperature stays above 40 degrees in order to prevent the water in the pump and water lines from freezing. If this pump is located in an area subject to temperatures dropping below 32 degrees, the pump typically is housed in an insulated enclosure. The pump motor itself generates a bit of heat to help prevent the pump from freezing, which is maintained - if it is inside an enclosure. Also, the water lines need to be insulated with pipe insulation to prevent freezing. Insulation sleeves can be purchased at most hardware stores.

If I don’t want to waste water by letting it run all night, how exactly can I winterize my water well to prevent freezing?

Winterize your water well by first insulating the pipes with foam insulation sleeves. Make sure the well is securely covered and the pump is inside an insulated enclosure. The water inside the well cannot freeze since it is always below the frost line. So the only parts that can freeze are the portions of the water supply pipes that are located on the surface, and the pump, if the well has a jet pump that sits on the surface above the well. Keep these parts covered in insulation and the pump should be inside an insulated housing.

What if our well is already frozen?

The well itself won’t freeze since the water level is always deep below the frost line. But If a water supply pipe leading from the well or the above ground well pump is already frozen, there will be a loss of water pressure. Begin by locating the freeze point. Turn on a faucet to relieve pressure. Attempt to thaw the freeze point (if accessible) using a hair dryer or electric heat tape. Stop applying heat once water begins flowing and allow running water to melt the remaining ice in the water supply pipes.

If you need professional help, call a plumber! Roto-Rooter plumbing and drain experts can provide assistance when homeowners experience plumbing-related problems inside or outside of the home. And, our water cleanup team can also remove water and dry your home professionally in the event of a burst or leaking pipe.