Winterizing your water well

For homes that rely on well water, the cold season can bring its own set of unique problems, especially during a long stretch of sub-freezing temperatures. Common cold weather water problems with well systems include frozen pipes, pump issues and power loss.

Some of these problems are preventable, as long as you plan ahead. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

FROZEN PIPES

It’s common for temperatures to drop  well below freezing at night during the cold season, but when daytime temperatures never get above 32°, pipes become much more susceptible to freezing. Here are a few things you can do which may help prevent pipes from freezing.

  • INSULATING PIPES: Use foam padding sleeves or special insulating tape to guard your pipes (both hot water and cold water) against freezing. Any exposed pipe or plumbing fixtures should be kept warm with space heaters (lamps) from a safe distance.
  • RUN WATER: Be sure to let water run from every valve in your house when temperatures are expected to remain below freezing for several days.
  • SHUT OFF OUTDOOR SPIGOTS: Remove your garden hoses before temperatures go below freezing. Close the shut-off valve on the pipes which lead to your outdoor spigots. Drain any leftover water from spigots or hoses. Don’t leave hoses attached to outdoor faucets over the winter.

It’s also a good idea to make sure everyone in the home knows where the emergency shutoff valve is, and also practice turning it off.

ABOVE GROUND PUMPS

While most water well pumps are underground and protected from the harsh winter cold, some homeowners decide to use an above ground pump, which may become susceptible to freezing.

  • INSULATE WATER LINES: Use foam padding sleeves or special insulating tape to protect your water lines.
  • BUILD A HEATED STRUCTURE: Construct a small structure the size of a dog house, and add a heat lamp to regulate temperatures inside, keeping it above freezing.

POWER OUTAGES

There’s nothing worse than losing power during the winter months. For well owners, it often means not only having no heat, but also no water. It’s always a good idea to maintain an emergency supply of water when outages are more likely, such as during high wind events and snow and ice storms.

  • GENERATORS: Emergency generators can be used to maintain water during power outages, but not just any generator will do. Click here for tips on selecting the proper generator for your pump.
  • SOLAR POWER: A solar water well pump is another option to help maintain a steady flow of water during a power outage. A basic solar installation can cost around $1,000 to $2,000.