View Full Version : Frozen Pipe in wisconsin Help...


dirtybiker
01-07-2014, 08:05 PM
Yesterday around 4pm I wanted to take a shower. All i had was hot water coming out. I check all around the house I was not getting cold water. I also noticed that. But after the water pressure died down i was not able to get hot water either. I do have a crawl space with on exposed copper pipe from my well. tried to heat with a hair drier no luck I will try and heat it again today with my heat gun.

Last night before work I flipped the breaker for the well pump. I tried to turn the pump back on and I don't hear the pump run. I can usually hear it run in the house or feel it on the pipes. I opened the well cap I still have water down there and its not frozen. Do I call someone or wait until Saturday when it warms up to see what happens. I melt snow on the stove so we can flush. and also have bottle water. I can probably go to my moms for a shower when needed.


any info would be great thanks

fitz11
01-07-2014, 08:13 PM
Block off the crawl space and put a heater down there. Give it a few hours and see if you have water

38 Dodge Coupe
01-07-2014, 08:14 PM
Do you have access to a heat tape that you could wrap around the pipe until the deep freeze lets up ? I know when I was growing up we had to do that on our well pump .

If a pipe has frozen make sure that you have the water turned off at the main so that when the pipe at the pump thaws you do not end up flooding an area where a pipe was frozen.

Azu
01-07-2014, 08:16 PM
Try some heat tape. You'll have to wrap some insulation around it to hold the heat. Here's an example:

http://www.homedepot.ca/product/15-ft-electric-pipe-heating-cable/909328

However, that's a short-term solution. You'll have to explore other ideas for a more permanent fix. Good luck!

brownbagg
01-07-2014, 08:17 PM
we had frozen pipe here today, in alabama and we are couple miles from gulf of mexico

Scott H in Wheaton
01-07-2014, 08:21 PM
My well is in a concrete pit. We put a heatlamp in there with an infrared bulb. Won't heat up the pit, but is enough to keep the pump from freezing or even thaw out the pump one time it had froze.

dirtybiker
01-07-2014, 08:29 PM
I will try and cover that vent hole tonight. I wish I had an electric heater that I could let that run down there. I will stop and get some heat tape tomorrow. Any Idea why the pump would stop?

blacksuit99
01-07-2014, 08:33 PM
My guess is that your pressure tank is full and the pipe is frozen after the pressure tank. When you get the water moving again the pressure will drop and the pump will kick on.


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Thumper68
01-07-2014, 08:37 PM
I will try and cover that vent hole tonight. I wish I had an electric heater that I could let that run down there. I will stop and get some heat tape tomorrow. Any Idea why the pump would stop?

The pressure switch might be frozen, I had that happen once and after it warmed up the pump came back on just fine.

To thaw the pipe go rent or borrow a generator welder connect the pos lead to one end and the neg lead to the other and fire it up, will thaw the pipe in no time.

dirtybiker
01-07-2014, 08:40 PM
Tank is empty. And pressure switch is on.

dirtybiker
01-07-2014, 08:41 PM
Also pressure switch is indoors in the boiler room no way for it to freeze.

crazy wheel
01-07-2014, 08:42 PM
Usually the first place a well will freeze is the little riser tube, that pressure switch is mounted on.
If it freezes there, than that can keep your well from kicking on.

It could be frozen anywhere though.
Good luck

crazy wheel
01-07-2014, 08:45 PM
Tank is empty. And pressure switch is on.

the pipe leaving the well could be froze....
can you hear the pump trying to run?

dirtybiker
01-07-2014, 08:45 PM
Are you saying there is another switch inside well?

crazy wheel
01-07-2014, 08:45 PM
Are you saying there is another switch inside well?

no you posted right before I posted,
sorry

Milton Shaw
01-07-2014, 08:46 PM
A low voltage heavy current will thaw the pipe in no time at all if its all metallic (copper, galvanized,steel). Ridgid sells a pipe thawer transformer that pulls 15 amps at 120 and then steps it down to about 200 amps at 6 volts. A generator or transformer type welder set at a low voltage and a amperage that is below it's duty rating is what is used by welding companies and plumbers to thaw pipes. With all the plastic pipe there is being used now nothing less than waiting on nature or physically thawing every foot of pipe is going to work.

dirtybiker
01-07-2014, 08:47 PM
I could hear the pump try and run yesterday I have very little vibration coming from it today.

BD1
01-07-2014, 09:17 PM
Are you sure it's froze or is pump shot ? Is there a union near the tank that you can disassemble to see if there is ice in it ? A drain you can remove or open ? Is your piping iron galvanized or copper ?

HoosierMark
01-07-2014, 09:25 PM
I have a frozen pipe also. I just found an interesting switch. The switch is temperature activated. It turns the electric on at 35 degrees and turns it off at 45 degrees. So when it is cold and getting ready to freeze it allows the heat lamp to come on. When it warms up, it turns the light off. It was $20 at the local hardware store. You may want something like that for your crawl space or well. My well never had a freezing problem as the heat from the water rose up to keep it above freezing.

crazy wheel
01-07-2014, 09:26 PM
I could hear the pump try and run yesterday I have very little vibration coming from it today.

Are you sure it's froze or is pump shot ? Is there a union near the tank that you can disassemble to see if there is ice in it ? A drain you can remove or open ? Is your piping iron galvanized or copper ?

This^^^^^

countryroad82
01-07-2014, 09:41 PM
You said you let the water pressure drain all the way, check the air pressure on your pressure tank. It may have lost its prime.

CNGsaves
01-07-2014, 09:43 PM
Always can rig up the poor man's heater . . . .
. . . . trouble light with a flood lamp bulb.

Shine that sucker right on where you want heat, and it WILL thaw out. Rig up a "dog house" of walls around it with plywood and that light down there will do the trick to heat up space and keep from freezing.

Dick in Wisconsin
01-07-2014, 09:48 PM
Be careful when it thaws and the pump goes back on. If there is a crack in the pipe you will have a MESS!

Good luck!

Will wrapping that heat tape you can put in the gutters help? Or is that too stiff?

jlckmj
01-07-2014, 09:55 PM
I just got back from spending 3 hours thawing the well pipe at my daughters house.
She has a well that is enclosed in a little wood house with a spot light that is normally enough to keep it from freezing, NOT THIS YEAR!

i had to use a small propane tank type torch, the type used for soldering copper pipe together. ($25.00) I even had to break a portion of the wall that the pipe goes through to get at where I felt the pipe was frozen. Then I had to keep moving the torch back and forth on the exposed pipe until it finally broke free. Her pipe was actually half PVC (or what ever it is) I still used the torch on it but kept the flame away from direct contact to keep from melting it. You just feel the pipe occasionally to make sure it is not getting too soft from the heat.

Same thing happened to her pump, when the pipe is frozen before the pressure tank, the pump will not turn on because there is no where for the water to be pumped, it is blocked by the ice.

Good luck, and dress warm, it will take a while, Jim

nicksnothereman
01-07-2014, 10:48 PM
Yesterday around 4pm I wanted to take a shower. All i had was hot water coming out. I check all around the house I was not getting cold water. I also noticed that. But after the water pressure died down i was not able to get hot water either. I do have a crawl space with on exposed copper pipe from my well. tried to heat with a hair drier no luck I will try and heat it again today with my heat gun.

Last night before work I flipped the breaker for the well pump. I tried to turn the pump back on and I don't hear the pump run. I can usually hear it run in the house or feel it on the pipes. I opened the well cap I still have water down there and its not frozen. Do I call someone or wait until Saturday when it warms up to see what happens. I melt snow on the stove so we can flush. and also have bottle water. I can probably go to my moms for a shower when needed.


any info would be great thanks


You can try a heat gun. Better heat than a hairdryer. Gonna be a lot of work though.

In the future try some of the foam tube wraps they sell in home improvement stores around any exposed pipe. I use those but it doesn't get as cold here. Also...if possible financially and physically, try to keep the water moving in the pipes at night by running it a bit over time (this means once before you sleep and getting up in the middle of the night to do it again, ideally). I do that when we have freezing temperatures. Haven't had an issue.

dirtybiker
01-08-2014, 12:09 AM
Thanks for the help I will get some heat tape tomorrow. Not really what I wanted to use my gift card on but s-happens. I will try also to cover the crawl space vent tomorrow when I get off work. I will also see if I can borrow a space heater see if that helps. I don't think the pump is bad or I hope it's not.

How long do pumps Last? This pump was put in around Xmas of 1999. I supose it could be due for a new pump. I looked on youtube, and found out how to change it seems straight forward. I will wait until it warms up this weekend before I do anything like that just to make sure something is not frozen.

Thanks for your help I will keep everyone updated.

wasfuzz
01-08-2014, 12:22 AM
Maybe I missed it, but is your well pump a shallow well pump (meaning the pump is above ground ) or is it at the bottom of your well encased in the well pipe. If it is the a shallow well, my guess is that the small line from the pressure switch on the pump froze. But now that your system as been "shut down" you may have many other spots that have frozen due to the lack of flow in the lines. Warm the pipes slowly and pay close attention to any elbows, tees, etc. If the ice plug thaws enough to flow down the pipe, often when it hits the elbows, etc it will blow them apart. Once you get it thawed out inspect your pipes several times over the next few days for leaks!
Good Luck:thumbup:

lh4x4
01-08-2014, 12:25 AM
The old shade tree mechanic trick. Hook a welder up to it. I have seen that work on service lines to the house.

dirtybiker
01-08-2014, 12:36 AM
The well is a deep well around 40ft I think. I don't have a welder I could use. I will try the heat tape, and go from there.

Shadowdog500
01-08-2014, 12:51 AM
The old shade tree mechanic trick. Hook a welder up to it. I have seen that work on service lines to the house.

My Lincoln tombstone welder has a circle around the 75a indicating that's the one you are supposed to use to thaw pipes. I never used it for that.

Chrid

Steroblan
01-08-2014, 01:06 AM
See if your system has a check valve above ground. If so it is likely froze up and won't allow water to pass. Be careful about using a torch since it might have seats that can be damaged

rodm1
01-08-2014, 04:49 AM
Are you positive the pump isn't froze you could remove the primming plug and add a ball valve to it and let it drip and fill up buckets.? I would worry about that first then work on the pipes.

finn
01-08-2014, 08:02 AM
Welder trick won't work with modern plastic pipe.

I often fret re how would I thaw my plastic pipe. The pipe runs under the area I plow for parking / turnaround. A couple of feet of snowpack would keep the well pipe from freezing, but then I have no parking.

Guess I should have considered that when I had the well sunk.

Gary S
01-08-2014, 09:18 AM
In a cold climate a crawl space should be heated. In my part of the world, almost all houses have full basements which are heated. The few that have crawl spaces instead often have the furnace down there. The furnace and ducts then heat the crawl space to avoid problems with pipes freezing.
When the weather warms up, consider getting things set up to heat that space so your problems don't continue.

dirtybiker
01-10-2014, 12:04 AM
Thanks for all the info this last week. This morning I Installed the heat tape left it on all day. I occasionally also flipped the breaker for the well pump also. Tonight after I got home I turned the pump on got busy and distracted with dinner, forgot the pump was on. As I was about to leave to go work I heard running water from the boiler room. I was shocked to see water coming from the wash tube in there. I went and turned on several other faucets in the house. I have water in all but one shower and the kitchen sink. I left the water run slowly in a few sinks. As I am typing this I realized it was stupid to leave it on in case of a break in the pipe while I am at work. My wife is home so hopefully if she notices something she will let me know. I looked at the main pipe I thought was frozen and did not notice any leaking but there must be frozen pipes farther up. In general it's good news. I did not want to replace the pump this weekend in the heat wave we are going to have.

Thanks again.

Clik
01-10-2014, 09:13 PM
Caution on the welder thang. Lots of stuff can go wrong there. Too many to list. I've done it but ...'lectric and water can be deadly! One popped joint in a crawl space and you're wet, and dead!