How to Keep a Well from Freezing

Inside: Learn how to keep a well from freezing and keep fresh water flowing all winter long.

collage image of wells and ice; text overlay "How to Keep a Well from Freezing"

During the winter, we often worry about our pipes freezing. If you’re on city water, there are elements of the delivery system that are out of your control. When we used to live in town, we had our water stop because city lines froze and there was nothing we could do about it.

However, if you have your own water well, you don’t have to worry about city lines or having your water turned off. That being said, the responsibility is 100% on you to make sure that your water delivery system keeps running in freezing weather.

Can a Well Freeze?

The well itself is deep underground, far below the frost line. It’s not the well itself that is of concern during a hard freeze, but rather the above-ground components.

water well in the snow

How to Prevent Your Well from Freezing

If you have an enclosed pump house, that gives you an advantage over an exposed well system. Obviously, if you don’t already have a well house, there probably isn’t time to build one right before an incoming storm. However, this is something to add to your list for building whenever possible, as it protects your system from any type of weather!

1. Check for Leaks

The first thing you’ll want to do when preparing to winterize your well is to check for any leaks. A leaky pipe will freeze faster, so if you find any issues, get them fixed ASAP.

2. Insulate

If you do have a pump house, the first thing is to check how well it is insulated. Plywood walls with siding are usually sufficient, but you can always add a layer inside of roll insulation for extra protection.

Exposed pipes can be wrapped in heat tape/insulation tape to help keep them from freezing.

3. Add Light

Believe it or not, an incandescent light bulb inside the well house may provide enough heat to keep any pipes inside from freezing. So if you have a light, keep it on.

What about putting a heat lamp in the well house?

I’ve seen it recommended to put a heat lamp inside the well house to raise the temperature. While this would definitely keep things warmer and may prevent freezing, it is also a fire risk.

To me, the risk of fire from an unattended heat lamp just wasn’t worth it. I recommend trying any and all of these other steps instead.

4. Use It

Another thing that can keep your system from freezing is normal use. When the compressor and/or pump kicks on, it does provide a bit of heat that may be just enough to keep temps inside the well house from dipping too low. You don’t need to run the water more than normal — just use it as you already would.

What Worked for Us

We have an enclosed pump house. It doesn’t have added insulation, but it has a legit roof with shingles and plywood walls with exterior siding. When the door is closed, the room is pretty airtight.

pump house for water well

This past week we experienced record low temperatures for our part of Texas, with lows in the single digits. So as you read my tips, keep in mind that you may need to do more than we did if your low temperatures are more extreme.

When we found out we were expecting a winter storm, we closed up our well house and did not open the door at all. That way any heat generated inside would stay there.

We also wrapped and insulated the pipes coming from the well house to our home.

We had a couple days where the temperature never got above freezing, and fortunately our water kept running smoothly.

Hopefully these tips can help you prepare your well for winter weather too!

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