A frozen well is far from ideal, especially if you live in a rural area and rely on your well for your everyday water supply.
Luckily, a frozen well doesn’t have to mean no water all winter – as long as you properly address the issue.
In this guide, we’ve shared how to detect a frozen well, what to do if you think your well has frozen, and more.
📌 Key Takeaways:
- Freezing occurs in a well’s above-ground pipes and jet pump (if your well has one), rather than the well itself or any underground components.
- To tell if you have a frozen pipe or pump in your well, switch on a faucet and check the speed of water flowing out of the pipes. A significant drop in water pressure indicates freezing.
- You can fix a frozen well by thawing out the frozen pipes or pump and preventing re-freezing.
Table of Contents
🧊 Can A Well Itself Freeze?
If you think freezing has reduced or cut off your well’s water supply, it’s likely that the well itself isn’t frozen.
Why? Because wells are dug into the ground, below the freeze line, which means that even if the above-ground temperature drops below freezing point, the well should be insulated by the soils and rocks underground.
So, which parts of the well are most likely to freeze? It’s common to have problems with frozen pipes that carry well water into your home, or frozen jet pumps (a type of well pump that sits above the ground).
🤔 How To Know If My Well Pump Or Pipes Are Frozen
The easiest way to know whether your well water pipes or pump are frozen is to switch on a faucet and watch the water flow.
If you’re experiencing a spell of cold weather and you notice a significant reduction in water pressure, this could be due to freezing.
As soon as you think you might have frozen water pipes in your well, act quickly. Stop using your water to reduce the risk of a burst pipe.
🪛 How To Fix A Frozen Well Pump Or Pipe
Find the Freeze Location
First, find the location of the freeze. It might be in the well system itself, or it might be in the pipes connecting various rooms in your home.
Start by switching on the faucet closest to your well’s pressure tank. If little or no water comes out of the tap, you know you have a frozen pipe or pump in your well.
Assess all the water lines leading from the well to your home, and look for exposed spots that could be prone to freezing.
You might notice ice patches or bulging sections of a water pipe that’s not frozen. You can also feel the temperature of a pipe – a frozen pipe will be colder than others.
👨🔧 Don’t forget about your above-ground well pump. If you don’t think any pipes leading to the well are frozen, the well pump itself might be the problem.
Thaw the Pump Or Pipe
Now you know the location of the freeze, you can thaw it out.
First, switch on the nearest faucet to relieve pressure. Then use a heat gun or a hair dryer to warm the pipe or pump until the ice melts and water flows out of the faucet.
You could also wrap electric heat tape around the pipe, or turn a space heater, heat lamp, or any other heat source on near the pump.
Looking for an electricity-free opinion? Try wrapping thermal blankets or towels soaked in hot water around the pipe or pump.
📌 Note: Don’t use a propane torch or any sort of open flame to heat the pipe or pump – this could boil the water and cause the pipe to burst.
✅ How To Prevent My Well From Freezing
It’s all very well knowing how to fix a well pipe or pump that’s already frozen – but what if you want to prevent a frozen pipe or pump in the first place?
You can prevent freezing in your well by:
Wrapping Exposed Pipes in Heat Tape
The easiest way to prevent frozen pipes in your well system is to wrap the pipes in heat tape. Or, for an electricity-free alternative, use pipe insulation – foam insulation sleeves that are designed to prevent above-ground pipes from freezing.
Insulating The Pump With A Cover
A well pump installed above the frost line can be protected from freezing with an insulated well pump cover. Covering your well pump will help to keep in the heat generated by the pump, preventing it from freezing.
Keeping Your Faucets Slightly Turned On
Another preventative measure against frozen pipes and well pumps is to leave your water running at a trickle out of your faucets during spells of uncommonly cold weather. Sending water flowing through your pump and water pipes should be enough to prevent freezing – but, of course, it’ll waste water, so it’s only ideal as a short-term solution.
❔ Frozen Water Well: FAQ
Can my well pump freeze?
Your well pump is only likely to freeze if it’s a jet pump. Jet pumps are installed above ground, so they’re susceptible to freezing when temperatures drop in the winter months. Submersible pumps – the other common type of well pump – are installed underground, so they’re unlikely to freeze.
At what temp does a well pump freeze?
A well pump may freeze if it’s exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0 degrees Celsius). It’s easy to remember – if temperatures drop below freezing, your well pump may freeze.
How do you unfreeze a well pump?
You can unfreeze a well pump by turning on the tap closest to the frozen pump to relieve pressure in the plumbing system, then use a hair dryer, a heat gun, or a heating pad to thaw it out. You’ll know when the water in the pump has turned back to liquid because you’ll notice water flow from the faucet.
How long does it take for a water well to unfreeze?
It takes 30-40 minutes to unfreeze a well with most DIY methods. If you decide to wait it out, you may end up going for days without water. The well will stay frozen until the outdoor temperature rises above freezing.