2 Days without water....

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by LittleChickenRacingTeam, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. LittleChickenRacingTeam

    LittleChickenRacingTeam On vacation

    Jan 11, 2007
    Ontario, CANADA
    Me not my chickens. I originally thought is was the well pump that had died. The water stopped flowing yesterday morning. I checked the pump bladder & all breakers etc. There was a snowstorm going on, so all I was able to do was chip the ice & move 3 ft of snow before it was dark.

    Pulled the pump out this morning only to realize that it indeed ok. The prolonged cold snap we have had has frozen the water line where it comes out from the pump & then goes up & attaches to a 90 degree elbow joint to run the 100 yards uphill to the house.

    I can't take a torch to the line that is in the well cause it is plastic. I'm hoping that the rest of the line that runs underground is not frozen also.

    Any suggestions???

    I'm glad the hot tub was full, so at least we can take water from that to flush the toilets, but I'm getting tired of being the bucket brigade around here.
  2. seedcorn

    seedcorn Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    NE. IN
    Can you get a snake into pipe. May not be froze that thick so you can break through, then running water will take care of the rest.
  3. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    I was feelin' pretty sympathetic up until you mentioned the hot tub...
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    There are three possible solutions. Probably the second is what you'll have to do, but it depends on your exact setup and how lucky you are.

    option 1) If the frozen part (or anyhow, where you THINK is frozen) is accessible inside the well or pumphouse or wherever this is, get a clip light with as large wattage bulb as it'll allow you to safely mount (read the label), run an extension cord, and aim the lamp at the frozen part of the plastic pipe. Do what you can to rig up plywood, old rugs, whatever to try to hold the heat in, but be careful obviously of fire hazards. It may take a couple hours, it may take longer, but IF none of the inaccessible buried part is frozen then this will eventually get it going again.

    option 2) Otherwise, the canonical solution is to set up a means of producing hot water in a big bucket or basin or tub. Get a small submersible pump and a long length of narrow semi-rigid tubing (go prospecting at the hardware store, I would not guarantee Canadian Tire will have anything satisfactory). What you want to do is snake the narrow tubing into the pipes that go to/from the well (from whichever end you think will be closest to the frozen bit, and/or easiest to achieve). You will have to either detach something somewhere to do this, or get a hacksaw and sever pipes (repair once blockage is gone). Do this somewhere it'll be ok to get water splashed all over -- see below. Push that pipe in as far as it will go - if there are 90 degree elbows in the way, you will have to use a flexible tubing, and it will be more obnoxious to do, but you want to get the end of the tubing all the way to the frozen part.

    Once you have the 'catheter' in as far as it will go, hook it up to the submersible pump, drop pump into big vat of hot water, and turn the pump on. What you want to do is pump the hot water in to the blockage, it will then run back out the same opening your 'catheter' is poked into -- did I mention, this will make a mess, have your hot water vat underneath the open end to catch the worst of it. In principle what you want to do is continually (or at least repeatedly) pump hot water at the froze bits til they thaw. This is much more easily said than done [​IMG] but this is basically The Way to thaw frozen buried pipes so you kinda just have to suck it up and make it work [​IMG]

    Option 3) involves a backhoe or serious shovel work, to dig up the frozen part of pipe (if it's buried) and then either use an immersion heater to heat water around it (if situation permits) or whale on it with one or two heat lamps for as long as it takes. Beats waiting til spring, but not by much, so hopefully options 1 or 2 will work for you first [​IMG]

    Good luck,

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2008
  5. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    2 words.....heat tape. Hope you get it working.
  6. hensdeliverthegoods

    hensdeliverthegoods Songster

    Dec 18, 2007
    Catawba County, NC
    When my well pump froze, I attached a hair dryer to an extension cord, put it on high and aimed it at the pump, and about 10 minutes later - twas fixed! [​IMG]
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Be aware that a) most kinds of heat tape are not for use on plastic pipe like LCRT has, and b) it is *especially* not wise to push your luck inappropriate-heat-tape-on-plastic-pipe-wise when the pipe is *frozen*.

    A fire, or even just melting a weak spot in the pipe that bursts when water is restored, is not really the ideal solution. Sure, sometimes people get away with it, but better safe than sorry if you ask me [​IMG]

  8. A snake can break the pipe...let alone contaminate it with fecal matter. Get heat to the area and it should thaw. Also, uncover the snow above the pipe, if the sun comes out, it can thaw it...maybe. But then cover it up when it thaws. Good luck.
  9. LittleChickenRacingTeam

    LittleChickenRacingTeam On vacation

    Jan 11, 2007
    Ontario, CANADA
    Well I took the elbow off today. The outside of the pipe was indeed covered in ice, but the water inside was not frozen. so that is not the problem after all. My next thought was the was the pump control box in the furnace room. Went & bought another one, but that did not correct the problem either. So I'm back to thinking that although the submersible pump appears to work at surface level, maybe it is damaged & not able to pump when it has 10ft of water pressure pushing down on it.

    We had another wicked storm all day today, & I'm calling in a professional tomorrow. The farmer next door mentioned that the pipe may have ruptured somewhere underground & therefore can't deliver the water uphill to the house. Thanks for all the advice tho people.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2008

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