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Unread 01-14-2009, 02:16 AM
 
Location: Lake Bomoseen
10 posts, read 40,646 times
Reputation: 18
Default well pipe heater.

over two weeks ago when it got down to single didgets the well pipe froze where it leaves the ground before it enters the house. we were told that the heater(heat tape i think) wasn't plugged in. Did anyone ever have this problem? if we leave the heater on will it keep the pipes from freezing? Would you put hay around the pipes? would the hay catch fire from the heater? I have done google searches but seem to only find heaters for sale instead of information. This is our second winter with this house and last year was much milder. Any info would be welcomed.
thanks in advance
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Unread 01-14-2009, 06:18 AM
 
Location: on a dirt road in Waitsfield,Vermont
2,170 posts, read 3,839,130 times
Reputation: 1021
Quote:
Originally Posted by beam me up View Post
over two weeks ago when it got down to single didgets the well pipe froze where it leaves the ground before it enters the house. we were told that the heater(heat tape i think) wasn't plugged in. Did anyone ever have this problem? if we leave the heater on will it keep the pipes from freezing? Would you put hay around the pipes? would the hay catch fire from the heater? I have done google searches but seem to only find heaters for sale instead of information. This is our second winter with this house and last year was much milder. Any info would be welcomed.
thanks in advance
Personally I'm not big on heat tape as it starts too many house fires but if it's outside it's probably alot safer. Just keeping it on will work fine, good idea to have the tape checked to make sure it's in good shape. If it's easy to turn on/off you can save money by following the weather and just turning it on a day or two before the cold weather arrives.

Normally, if there is snow on the ground it helps to insulate it from the cold so alot of folks shovel snow on top of the pipe. A foot of snow is an amazing insulator. How far off the ground is the pipe, is it just laying on the ground?

You can also insulate the pipe with thick foam type pipe insulation you can buy at Home Depot et al.

If the heat tape is in good shape just using that will work fine and is the least hassle. After you turn it on go out and make sure it's heating up after it's been on awhile.
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Unread 01-14-2009, 06:57 AM
 
1,529 posts, read 2,815,025 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MRVphotog View Post
Personally I'm not big on heat tape as it starts too many house fires but if it's outside it's probably alot safer. Just keeping it on will work fine, good idea to have the tape checked to make sure it's in good shape. If it's easy to turn on/off you can save money by following the weather and just turning it on a day or two before the cold weather arrives.

Normally, if there is snow on the ground it helps to insulate it from the cold so alot of folks shovel snow on top of the pipe. A foot of snow is an amazing insulator. How far off the ground is the pipe, is it just laying on the ground?

You can also insulate the pipe with thick foam type pipe insulation you can buy at Home Depot et al.

If the heat tape is in good shape just using that will work fine and is the least hassle. After you turn it on go out and make sure it's heating up after it's been on awhile.
Heat tape also has to be installed properly or you will have problems,used them when I lived in Denver and Arkansas worked perfectly thermostat controlled.,laid out as strip and taped to pipe,
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Unread 01-14-2009, 07:01 AM
 
Location: hinesburg, vt
1,574 posts, read 3,026,073 times
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I have never heard of a drilled water well freezing up. I guess it depends on the type of well and how deep down the actual water feed line is to the house. I would call a well company and/or plumber to see what workable options there are. As MRV said, snow is a great insulator and the freeze line in soil should not get too deep even with the weather we are having. On the topic of frozen pipes the news yesterday profiled some plumbers talking about recent water damage from ruptured pipes. I know it is tempting to lower the heat as much as possible to save money especially when you are not home, but the alternative could be devastating. For those with baseboard plumbed heat it's also important to note that when using an alternate heat source like a woodstove that the pipes in other area areas of the house against cold spots on the walls could be in risk of freezing so you do have to keep the heat up. As far as heat tape goes, it can be risky as I have seen several fires over the years resulting from its use. Again, probably a good idea to consult a good plumber for proper applications and ideas.
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Unread 01-14-2009, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Wherever I park the motorhome
286 posts, read 826,926 times
Reputation: 144
Snow is not an insulator to freezing temps!!! Folks, the ground under snow freezes. To prove that take some water in a glass and bury it in snow and see if it doesn't turn into a solid...

This is an exposed above ground water line and that means it is above the local frost line depth. And "well water" is no different than any other fresh water, it will freeze at 32*f or less; guaranteed.

Heat tape must be applied per the instructions, most or all will require some type of protection from the surrounding (cold) air. If not the line can freeze or you can start a fire, either way you're out of water until you then repair/replace the line or house AND THEN prevent the new line from freezing; depending on how cold it is, it only takes about an hour or so to freeze water solid in a 3/4" line and maybe a half hour longer for 1". And if the line is metal, it will slpit/crack or burst.
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Unread 01-14-2009, 03:14 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
8,710 posts, read 19,120,679 times
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Something else is just to keep a small stream of water flowing in for example a sink in the house. If the exposed pipe is not too long and the weather not too cold this can be enough.

Depending on where you are and how cold it is, you could just put hay over the pipe.

If I understand the original post correctly this is a section of pipe *between* the well and the house itself that's freezing - right?

We have a well house with jet pump and regular pump up in the well house, the pipe from the pressure tank in this well house is buried and comes into the house in the basement/cellar. We have a small oil-filled heater in the well house to protect it from freezing, but the pipes between it and the house are buried deep enough (apparently) that they don't freeze.

HTH.
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Unread 01-14-2009, 04:01 PM
 
14,854 posts, read 13,473,570 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
Something else is just to keep a small stream of water flowing in for example a sink in the house. If the exposed pipe is not too long and the weather not too cold this can be enough.

Depending on where you are and how cold it is, you could just put hay over the pipe.

If I understand the original post correctly this is a section of pipe *between* the well and the house itself that's freezing - right?

We have a well house with jet pump and regular pump up in the well house, the pipe from the pressure tank in this well house is buried and comes into the house in the basement/cellar. We have a small oil-filled heater in the well house to protect it from freezing, but the pipes between it and the house are buried deep enough (apparently) that they don't freeze.

HTH.
Yep, leave it run a little. City water too. I have had a long day unfreeing things. I am $4,000 to the the good but, the cold was a nightmare!!!
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Unread 01-15-2009, 11:19 AM
 
Location: Wherever I park the motorhome
286 posts, read 826,926 times
Reputation: 144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Driller1 View Post
I have had a long day unfreeing things. I am $4,000 to the the good but, the cold was a nightmare!!!
It's all about the money with you.

Mitch, enough hay etc. will prevent wind from getting to the pipe but nothing but heat will prevent freezing which requires the heat to keep the pipe and the water in it at at least 33-34*f.
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Unread 01-15-2009, 11:39 AM
 
14,854 posts, read 13,473,570 times
Reputation: 6832
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Slusser View Post
It's all about the money with you.

Mitch, enough hay etc. will prevent wind from getting to the pipe but nothing but heat will prevent freezing which requires the heat to keep the pipe and the water in it at at least 33-34*f.
Yep. Why can you not post without attacking me??
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Unread 01-15-2009, 05:10 PM
 
Location: Lake Bomoseen
10 posts, read 40,646 times
Reputation: 18
Thank you all for the the advice. so far with the heat tape it hasn't froze. hopefully it will last till spring and then i can make changes.

regards
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