Many water well systems in the northern U.S. are required to be built deep underground below the frost line. However, there are large parts of rural America, especially in the Midwest and South, where pumping systems are above ground or above the frost line. Ben Frech, public relations and policy manager for the National Groundwater Association, says it’s important to protect that pumping system from the cold of winter.
“A lot of pumps are what they call ground pumps, meaning they’re just resting on the ground. And if you have a ground pump or you know you have a shallow pump that’s installed potentially above the frost line, you’re going to want to know that, and you’re going to want to consider insulating that pump, potentially building a small well house over it or finding other ways to insulate it. If the water freezes in your pump and your pump stops operating, that won’t just damage the pump, that potentially damages the whole water well system and could cost thousands and thousands of dollars compared to a small investment that a well house or insulating the pump in another fashion would be.”
He also says it’s very important to keep the water pipes in excellent shape.
“A water well is a very self-contained apparatus which has to be working in unison. Every piece has to be working together, and this works best when water is flowing, and it especially doesn’t like changes in flow pressure or temperature changes. When you start seeing your pump not working, start not seeing water flowing, that’s really when that water can expand in the pipes that would go to your house, especially if some of those pipes are not insulated. That’s when you’re looking at a real system-wide problem, which again can cost thousands of dollars. Insulating your pipes, insulating the pump, building a small little house, these things can only cost maybe a couple or few hundred dollars that can save you so much money at the end of the day.”
Turning off the exterior water and blowing out the pipes is one way to make sure your system stays running during winter.
“That’s something we encourage everybody to do. Some people have access to that because that will help get some of that latent residue out of there. It will also help keep the pipe insulated when you re-insulate those pipes. Some people will have access to that, and you can do it easily. Some would have to ask a contractor or a plumber to come out there and do that. And most folks who own wells are pretty familiar with their system and will know if they can do that. But essentially, it’s just another way to kind of protect condensation and kind of keep your water flowing where it’s supposed to be going during the winter months.”
For more information, go to wellowner.org.