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Old 01-24-2013, 02:00 PM   #1
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


Pipes seem to be frozen. We moved into a cabin which is sub winterized. Following a week of zero temps we lost water. Pipes buried at unknown depth feed into house through uninsulated crawl space. (Space heaters now in use in crawl space and basement access.) Our Con Aire pressure tank is holding pressure and water remains in hot water tank, but no flow to the faucets. Ground temp is about 20 degrees 2 feet down. No evidence of bulging copper lines in crawlspace. The feed from well to house is a black poly pipe of some sort. Looking for bright ideas, please help.

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Old 01-24-2013, 02:17 PM   #2
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


Is this a suction pump or a submerged pump---If you have pressure at the tank it might be the well line is still working----is there a drain cock near the pressure tank you can open?

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Old 01-24-2013, 02:19 PM   #3
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


Just saw 'well house' in the title---is that house heated?

Pictures or a better description will help----many of the plumbers here are at work----be patient--
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:37 PM   #4
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


Looks to me like you were on the right track Mike. Unless it's been changed, it says "well to house", not "well house". Gotta love bifocals! MM, as he said though, the more details the better. Not sure what you mean exactly by the pressure tank holding pressure, but if it's at it's normal cutoff pressure, I would be focusing on the lines from the tank to the points of use. You said cabin, so it wouln't be uncommon that the kitchen, bath, and laundry share a common wall, so maybe the pipes running up through the floor in that area.
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:49 PM   #5
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


If the pressure tank is in the house then problem is pipes in the house after the tank(unless tank is frozen).
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:10 PM   #6
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


Per request: more details:
Mountain cabin in Colorado elevation: 6500 feet We have a deep well with (I believe it would be submersible pump)

The well is located about 60 feet from house up on a hillside maybe 30 feet up. Start w/ well head- removed cap for a look. Water exits the housing about 5-6 feet down. Cannot see water level but haven't looked in there before so have nothing to compare.

I am assuming as the elevation drops, the water line becomes increasingly shallow. From the crawl space I can see the poly pipe enter under a stone foundation at 2-3 feet depth.

It runs along the ground to an interior wall in a dug out basement/ garage and drops down to a junction w/ drain cock going one way, and feed to a con aire pressure tank.

The meter on that tank is holding at about 30 psi. Bladder pressure in tank was at 10 psi, we added air now at 30 in the bladder.

Don't have specs to instruct regarding what the bladder pressure should be. Moving on; pipe exits pressure tank and feeds cold to house and hot water tank.

Now pipes are attached to joists below the floor in the crawl space and feed to kitchen sink and a lavatory sink and 1 outside spigot at the far end of the system. (No toilet to deal with we have an outhouse and the shower is a hose outside that is fed by hot water spigot) House is heated with wood stove only.

During the cold snap we were starting out at temps in 40's inside when we lost our flow. We have added a space heater in the basement and have the pipe room at 55 or so. We ran a space heater under the sink under a removable panel that exposes pipes under floor- its been holding at 60 w/o added heat with the rise in temps we have enjoyed this week.

We are on the north side of the mountain in a river valley and get only a couple of hours of direct sun daily.

So next bright idea- moved a cold frame over ground where poly pipe is probably at its most shallow and stuck a long compost thermometer down about 2 feet it was 20 degrees. Ran a space heater and insulated the cold frame w/ sleeping bags got the air temp to 100 and raised ground temp to 30.

Moved cold frame to next adjacent space repeat- still waiting. We expect to have a few more 50 degree days til the next storm comes in and most likely will erase our progress. Can't wait to see the electric bill w/ 3 space heaters going. Didn't expect to get this cabin, or would have asked dad more questions before he passed away.

Last edited by oh'mike; 01-24-2013 at 04:37 PM. Reason: added spaces
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:25 PM   #7
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


by the way attached hose to drain cock next to pump and was able to drain maybe a couple of gallons of water out.

Forgot to close gate valve that feeds house so don't know if this was from the house pipes or well pipe. However pipes notably colder as that water passed through.

Presently the hot water tank is turned off at breaker and well pump is turned off. How do we tell if the pressure tank is frozen? We have had space heater pointed at it for several days now.

I'm feeling quite at the mercy of the elements. But now that we have messed with everything.... what would be best to protect the system while we wait.... well on w/ pressure behind our plug?... or well off... in which case may not advance our ice plug into a warmer place. Gate valve to house lines open or closed?

Leave faucets open until we get water or closed when we leave the house or ... what is best practice. City girl in mountains sure appreciates your advice.

Last edited by oh'mike; 01-24-2013 at 04:39 PM. Reason: added more spaces
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:47 PM   #8
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


I'm not a well guy--so if another member says I wrong---pay attention--

I've turn off the pump--the regulator is calling for water and making the pump run---with no place to go---

Open all the faucets and the drain cock and let the system drain out----the water heater will be fine with water in it as long as it doesn't freeze---

if water didn't come out of the pressure tank when you opened that drain cock---you are not getting water into the house.

Check the breaker for the pump--

Posting a picture of the tan and controls and valves will get the best answers---Mike----
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Old 01-24-2013, 05:54 PM   #9
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


Boy, with 30 psi in the tank, and nothing at the faucets, I am still of the opinion that the problem is in the house. With two days of heat on the tank, and under the sink, there has to be a place, perhaps in a joist bay, concealed behind a wall, or something that you are not getting heat to. You mentioned a basement and a crawlspace; what about that area? Are you getting heat to those lines?
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:13 PM   #10
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


Called our local well service and they were very kind. They were working in the area and lent us a nifty rig... Propane stove w/ 5 volt transfer pump to recirculate hot water through the pipe. A drain pipe was attached to our main feed (disconnected from pressure tank) and we fed a small hot water hose up while allowing the water to spill back down into the heating pot. We used about 70 feet of line before we broke through... it took about an hour. This tells us our pipes are probably about 3' deep for the whole run from well to house. We'll be letting the faucet trickle until the ground thaws.... then we have a whole new project for spring/summer.
Thank you so much for your suggestions
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:58 PM   #11
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Frozen Pipes from well to house


The solution is simple as installing styrofoam above the pipe. This will raise the frost level.

here is a good article.

http://www.dow.com/PublishedLiteratu.../pdfs/noreg/17

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