How Do I Prevent My Well From Freezing?

How Do I Prevent My Well From Freezing?

Charlotte winter weather is unpredictable. One day we can get temps in the 60s or even 70s; the next day it may dip below freezing - and stay there for days and days, even, on occasion, weeks. When we get extended cold spells, where the weather remains below freezing for days on end, Charlotte homeowners end up with problems like frozen pipes, and, in particular, frozen wells. If you want to prevent your well from freezing, you’ll want to follow these simple steps to protect your well:

Get Out Your Camera

You might think this is crazy, but the first thing you’ll want to do is to take a photo of the tag on the well pipe (that metal plate you see that has the well depth, water level, and other important information on it) so you have this information on hand. It’s good to know how old your well is and what the well depth is in case you have problems with your well in the future.

Prepare The Pipes

Your pump is actually deep down inside your well, so you’ll actually be looking at an extension of the well casing and the associate pipes. You’ll need to measure the length of the pipes that are exposed (out of the ground) so you can insulate them. If the pipes are somewhat frozen already, use a hair dryer to warm them up and then use an old towel to wipe them down.

Insulate The Pipes

You can use one of many types of insulation. Some people like foam pipe insulation, but others cut up old sweatshirts or a thick fabric like sweatshirt material or a thermal blanket. If you use sweatshirt material, be sure to wrap it twice (double thickness) to make sure the pipes are insulated enough. Use heat tape to attach the material or insulation around the pipes and to keep it secured. Follow these step by step instructions for insulating pipes if you need additional directions.

Install A Heat Lamp

Now you’ll want to install a heat lamp inside the well house. You’ll need to plug it in, so be sure to use outdoor-safe extension cord to connect the lamp to the electrical outlet. The heat lamp will keep the well nice and warm.

Cover The Well

Cover the well with one of the following:

  • An insulated, preconstructed well cover (you can find fiberglass rocks or well houses for sale at hardware stores)
  • A trash can (better yet, a trash can within a trash can, with insulation in between the two cans)
  • A brick well house
  • A framed well house

If Your Well Is Frozen

If you've hit this article and you're already dealing with a frozen well, we can help you out. First, try thawing the pipes with a hair dryer. Be careful when running extension cords outside in the winter (watch out for water at the connection point where you could get an electric shock), and make sure to wave the hair dryer around at different points in the pipes and visible parts to your well. Expect to spend a good half hour to hour doing this. Do not use a space heater unless you are willing to watch it carefully.

If you are dealing with frozen pipes and need detailed instructions for safely thawing them, read this article on how to thaw frozen pipes.

Once you think the well and pipes are unfrozen, check to see if the well is still working. Unfortunately, frozen pipes can cause the pipes to shut off tightly, which can ruin a submersible pump. If your pump is not working or you have a broken pipe that is now leaking, call us right away for a consultation.

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8 comments on “How Do I Prevent My Well From Freezing?

  1. Les on

    whats the best type of back-fill to put around well casing/head? Sand? Dirt? Gravel? I have one sticking up around 2 ft from ground level. Thx

    • David Parker on

      Hey Les, Any of those would be fine. I'm on well myself and just have clay soil around it with an insulated rock that sits over top of it.


  2. Chris Pederson on

    Thanks for sharing how your pipes can shut off tightly if they are completely frozen. It got really cold yesterday and I think my water well froze. I hope the pump isn't broken though, I'll have a professional come check it all honestly.

  3. Adam Golightly on

    My uncle is having some problems with his well and he wants to make sure that he can be a lot safer and can get more water that can be a lot healthier. He would really like to get some help from a professional to fix it and get the right design that can help prevent it from freezing over. I liked what you said about how a space heater should be watched carefully and getting a hairdryer can be really useful and insulating the pipes can be really useful.

  4. Oscar Morrison on

    I appreciate your tips for keeping our well in good condition as it gets cold. We haven't had a well before we moved to our home earlier this year so we don't know what to do. If anything goes wrong we'll definitely get help to fix it quickly.

    • David Parker on

      Sherry, As long as your above freezing on your setting it should be fine! We see light bulbs commonly used anywhere from a 60watt to 100 that do the trick in extreme weather.


  5. Diane abernathy on

    Hi my name is Diane all our pipes are frozen.l turned off my hot water tank but left my well pump on but I'm getting worried about the well pump.since all the water either at the well or under the house are still frozen ! Should l turned the well pump off? Could the well pump be damaged buy leaving it on?

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