City girl needs help with country well/pump

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by ScotDeerie, Feb 4, 2007.

  1. ScotDeerie

    ScotDeerie New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Central Indiana
    Bear with me here, I might have some of the terminology wrong:

    I water my horses from an outside well that's powered by an electric pump
    down in the well. The "pump" that's frozen is the pump unit that's at
    ground level, not the electric one down in the well. At least I HOPE it's
    not the one down in the well...

    Normally, when using the water, I hook up the hose to the ground level
    "pump" (I don't know what else to call this part), lift the handle up and
    then flip the switch to start the electric pump and pump the water.
    After I'm done filling the troughs, I put the "pump" handle down and shut
    off the electric.

    Yesterday, there was an ice block in the hose so I shut off the electric,
    detached the hose BUT I FORGOT TO PUT THE PUMP HANDLE DOWN. An hour
    later, when I got back with the thawed hose, everything at the "pump" was
    frozen solid. The handle is frozen in the up position and won't budge.
    No water will come out when the electric pump is on.

    I did try to thaw the ground level pump with a small propane torch for
    almost an 45 minutes. I thought the only block must be in the top of the
    ground level pump since no water would have been pushing upward from the
    well without the electric running, right? But I had no luck. It did
    cross my mind that parts that weren't receiving direct heat were
    refreezing faster than I could keep them thawed. What do I need to do to
    thaw this out? We're due to be in a deep freeze here for another week at
    least. Do I need to call in professional help? Who do I call? A
    plumber?

    Thanks for any help and suggestions.

    Giselle (obviously a city girl gone bad)
  2. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    That "pump" that seems to be frozen is actually a frost-free riser spigot that drains back into the ground when the handle is down, and you are going to have to also thaw it below ground level. If you know someone with a small welder, I have heard of first disconnecting the electricity to your well, and then connecting the welding cables to the riser and its connection at the pump and turning the welder on at a low amperage to thaw out everything in-between, but I have never actually done that myself.
  3. ScotDeerie

    ScotDeerie New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Central Indiana
    Thanks, lee. Can you tell me why it has to be thawed below ground level? Does water remain in that line if the handle isn't put down on the riser spigot? I thought once the pump was shut down, the water in the line returned to the well since there was no force/flow behind it.

    So I have to find a welder... hmmm.... I guess my idea of setting up a sawhorse/tarp shed around the pump and putting heat lights out there isn't going to work, huh? :(

    Giselle
  4. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    I do not know for sure here, but yes, I believe so. When the handle is up, the drain is closed and the line is filled with water all the way back to the pump.

    There is almost surely a check valve at the discharge point of the pump, and the spigot drains into the ground somewhere else when the handle is down.

    It cannot hurt to try. Close the area in as best you can and put your heat right up to the pipe coming out of the ground ... then check it again just before a plumber or someone else shows up with a welder or whatever! And if your pump is not too far away, maybe applying a little heat at the point where the pipe to your spigot first goes into the ground would help radiate heat over and up to the frozen part.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2007
  5. thawing out a pump

    this may sound stupid but it works sometime......

    go get a couple of sleeping bags and cover that

    whole pump and handle with them.....

    perhaps pile on a blanket ot two, to warm or insulate the ground
    area around the pump....

    maybe then cover the whole thing with a LARGE plastic
    tarp to keep the wind from coolong it all back down.....

    now after all this is perforned and basically you have made a
    glorified tent over the frozen ground , pump handle , and general area,,,,,,

    take a heat lamp and put it under your tent and let it thaw out..


    if you have a kerosine salamander you can open up one
    end of your tent and blow the heat into the area too.

    be sure to have the power shut off to the system untill you
    are sure that you have got it all warm and cosey,

    you dont want it suddenly comming on and spraying
    all over everywhere.



    eventually you will win...

    just keep an eye on it and dont catch the whole thing on fire.


    and if it burns down, forget I told you to do this....









    ....
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2007
  6. ScotDeerie

    ScotDeerie New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Central Indiana
    Yeah, burning down my neighbor's little barn, which is next to the spigot, would sort of be the last straw in this little episode...

    I was out there for a few hours and the heat lamp experiment didn't pan out so here's what I settled for by the time my face was about to freeze off: I wrapped 6 foot of heat tape around the unit, put 8' of R30 insulation aroung the whole thing, taped it together the best I could with frozen fingers AND frozen tape and shoved a garbage can over the whole mess to keep it in place in the wind. I figure I won't open it back up for 24 hours and maybe some progress will have been made. Meanwhile, I guess I run out with buckets of warm water for my draft horse. If nothing else, I bet I never forget to put that handle down again. :rolleyes:

    Thanks for the help.

    Giselle
  7. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    I bet that works!
  8. ScotDeerie

    ScotDeerie New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Central Indiana
    Goodness, I sure hope so! Schlepping out 5 gal buckets of water to a draft horse and two minis isn't the most fun I've ever had in a barn. :p

    Stay tuned, I promise to report back!

    Giselle
  9. try the carpets....

    I was just jokeing with you


    you really ought to cover those pipes with something

    to hold the heat in and keep the cold atmosphere out.....


    then you might have a fighting chance ....


  10. ScotDeerie

    ScotDeerie New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Central Indiana

    I thought I did. The heat tape, the insulation and the garbage can "shelter" aren't good enough?
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2007
  11. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Did you plug in the heat tape?! ;)

    Keeping in mind that heat rises ...

    If you have the heat tape as close to the ground as possible, all of your insulation work is certainly going to help it warm the spigot tube. At that point, the question is about how deep the frozen part of your ground goes down as compared to how far down the heat from the tape might effectively radiate. Assuming we are dealing with metal pipe here, and since you only need to get a little above freezing, I would guess it might go at least a foot or so into the ground.

    If your spigot is not very far from the pump, say 5' or less, putting heat tape and insulation on the pipe where your pump discharge line goes into the ground on its way to the spigot might help a bit if your initial effort at ground level does not get the job done. Also, the idea of a welder or whatever such system a plumber might use would be dependent upon your pipe being metal (conductive).
  12. ScotDeerie

    ScotDeerie New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Central Indiana
    Yes. :p This little frozen spigot thingy notwithstanding, most times I'm downright sensible. (Except for wanting a draft horse to ride, I guess.)

    Unfortunately, 24-hours after putting on the heat tape and insulation, nothing has thawed. Crapola.

    My horses drink 40+ gallons of water or so a day which I'm taking out to them in 5 gallon buckets from the house. Overnight they sucked down about 10+ gallons and almost got down past the heater in the water which would have cost me a new tank heater. This isn't a fun way to keep them in water but at least I can do it without TOO much trouble.

    Giselle
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2007
  13. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    You leave the tank heater on all the time... oh wait central Indiana, let me guess -20 deg F today? It's supposed to get up to 80 here today...

    You might try 100 watt light bulbs in addition to the heat tape, the tape doesn't really put out much heat, I think they're only 3 watts / foot...

    Rancher
  14. ScotDeerie

    ScotDeerie New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Central Indiana
    *hmph* Brag brag brag. :::black, cold, jealous thoughts:::

    I briefly toyed with heat lamps but the spigot stands alone in the middle of a lawn, unsheltered by anything. It's hard enough getting electric out there for the heat tape. And, yes, it did get into negative numbers here AGAIN last night and it may do it again tonight. However, it is a balmy four degrees right now... I bet you're jellus, huh? :rolleyes:

    I guess I'll have to wait for spring.
  15. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

  16. ScotDeerie

    ScotDeerie New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Central Indiana
  17. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    It is a submersible down in a well?
  18. ScotDeerie

    ScotDeerie New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Central Indiana
    I guess so. This is an area I don't understand too well (no pun) but there is no pump above the ground so I guess if submersible is the only other choice, that's what it is.
  19. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Architect

    Messages:
    277
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Some heat tapes have a sensor on them that turns them on below about 40°. Make sure that is somewhere cold or it will turn itself off. It might take a few heat tapes or more wraps. Best wishes!!!
  20. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Please pardon me. I have been assuming all along that you have a well and pump down in a pit somewhere, but I just re-read your first post where you clearly mentioned a pump down in a well. So then, you must have a large, 4"-or-so pipe -- the top of your well -- sticking up out of the ground somewhere? If so, there is likely not much you can do from there to help thaw your yard hydrant.

    Do you know whether you have a pressure tank and where it might be?
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