Having your well pump serviced every autumn before the freezing weather kicks in is the first step in preventing well freezing. However, even routine inspections aren’t going to be enough to keep Jack Frost from wreaking havoc on your water supply, especially if you have an older or shallow well. Frozen pipes are a big problem for some well owners, so take steps to help prevent such a headache this winter.
Start by snapping a picture of the well pipe’s tag. It’s the metal plate that tells you the water levels and well depth. It’s crucial to have this information handy, and also serves as a reminder of just how old your well is. In an emergency, you want to be able to give your well contractor as much information as possible.
A DIY-approach may be all you need when it comes to freeze prevention. Measure how long the exposed area of the pipe is. If there’s already some freezing, a blow dryer might be enough to get the pipe warm and ready for insulation. A bevy of insulation options are available, from foam to going really old-school and cutting up sweatshirts to make your own.
Heat tape or a heat lamp can also do the trick, but make sure you use an extension cord suitable for the outdoors. This type of insulation can work in a pinch, but if something goes wrong you might be signing up for a fire hazard or simply pipes that keep freezing. For the best well insulation, let the experts handle it.
Keeping your well pump covered in the winter is essential for proper pipe function. Some options include an insulated cover (also known as a “well house”) designed especially for wells. For a quick fix, you can use a trash can, if your pump is small enough. Brick, wood and fiberglass well houses are all available as well — check out your local well contractor or home improvement store.
Worried that your pipes are already frozen beyond repair? Before battling the cold weather armed with only a hair dryer, make sure the well is still working. Sometimes freezes can make the pipe shut off and ultimately destroy your submersible pump. If you notice a nonworking pump or a leak from a broken pipe, it’s time to call in the experts.