Freezing weather is coming and you need to protect your water system; here are few simple steps to help Reduce the Risk of Freeze Damage.
Pump House & Garage:
Turn on a faucet when temperatures drop. Moving water – a good drip is sufficient and less likely to freeze. Turn up the flow at the first sign of a slowing drip rate.
This option is a good “panic” measure, but it isn’t good water stewardship. You will use more energy kicking the pump on more often than necessary and wasting water at the same time.
Put an incandescent (not fluorescent) light bulb in the pump house. Place it in the vicinity of the well column/pump, and leave it on during freezing weather. A 150-watt heat lamp makes a terrific space heater. Make sure the light cannot be knocked over or near a fire hazard.
This option provides a fair degree of security, but it is not an energy-efficient alternative. If the light stays on 24 hours a day through the winter months, you will spend approximately an additional $3-$5 a month. Using a timer will help reduce energy usage if freezing only occurs during the night.
Inspect your well system site before the weather turns bad. Make sure there are no drafty holes, broken windows or insufficient insulation. Put heat tape on the pump and plumbing. (Follow directions on the package.) Heat tape made specifically for this purpose is available at most hardware stores like The Home Depot. Plug in the heat tape. Initial costs may be $20-$50, depending on how much exposed pipe you have. Heat tape should be reliable as long as the power stays on.
Weatherize the well house. Install new weather-stripping, caulk and repair the roof. Add insulation if necessary and put in new insulation if it has been damaged.
Install a thermostatically controlled space heater. Set it at 35 degrees. The heater may or may not use more electricity than the heat tape or light bulb approach, depending on the weather. It will however, be more reliable.
With any of these options, check the well system during cold snaps. If you are worried about power outages, learn to drain your storage tanks and how to re-prime your water system.
You might also purchase a safe propane or kerosene space heater. Use it on those very cold nights when storm fronts roll through and knock trees across power lines. Just remember it is not a good idea to operate non-vented combustion heaters in an inhabited space.
Exposed Pump Equipment:
If you have no well house or permanent covering for the well pump, you can cover it with a large black trash can or a barrel. Use spray foam insulation inside the can or barrel, and place it over the well pump. Place a heavy weight on top of the trash can and side supports such as wooden stakes to keep it from tipping over.
You can place one trash can or barrel inside of another and use spray foam insulation and wrap with duct tape, mice will have a harder time destroying it. This will offer good protection for below twenty degrees. Whatever you do, cover your well pump with something, even if it is a cardboard box stuffed with insulation.
Softeners & Filters:
If your filter/softener is in an area vulnerable to frost or freezing, such as an unheated garage or pump house, you can build an insulated box around the water filter/softener to reduce the risk of freeze damage.
If you are going to be gone for any length of time during the winter, winterizing your filtration/softener equipment may help reduce the risk of freeze damage.
Kinetico/Non Electric Filter/Softeners:
Recommended steps for Winterizing a Kinetico Water Softener:
- Draw brine solution into the main and remote tanks; do not backwash the brine solution out.
- Remove the main and remote heads and siphon the water from the tanks, use tubing down the riser tube to get most of the water out of the tanks. Do not tip tanks if they have gravel in the bottom!
- Remove/siphon as much water as you can from the Kinetico module.
- Get all the water out of the brine drum, remove the brine valve, and get all of the water out of the brine valve.
It is highly recommend that you store the Kinetico module and brine valve in a heated room.
Take these two water softener winterizing steps if you are leaving heat on:
- Unplug the electrical power to the water softener, or if it is “hard wired” to an electrical power source, turn off the electrical power switch feeding power to the device.
- If the water softener has a manual bypass valve, put the valve into bypass position so the softener is not in the piping loop at all.
- The water softener bypass valve is normally included as part of the control valve assembly on top of the water softener media tank (the smaller tank that handles the actual ion exchange that is the real work of a water softener).
- Bypassing the water softener and turning it off when the building water supply is not going to be in use, removes one more possible source of freeze and/or leak damage and it isolates the water softener equipment from the rest of the building’s water supply piping.
Take this additional water softener winterizing step if you are turning heat off in a building located in a freezing climate:
- Drain the water softener media tank (ion exchange tank): If heat is to be turned off, drain the water softener or other water filtration equipment as part of the sequence mentioned above. Look at the instructions for your water softener.
- Manufacturers want their products to work well and be successful, and will be happy to provide you with maintenance and freeze-proofing instructions for your water softener.
- Drain the water softener control valve the control valve on modern water softeners is often constructed of a reinforced thermoplastic.
- Watch Out: your water softener model may have a drain plug that needs to be removed from the water softener control to help assure that that device is not damaged by freezing.