Water doesn’t just become hard when it freezes. It also expands as its molecules arrange themselves into crystalline structures. That is why water increases in volume by approximately 9% when it freezes.
PVC, copper, iron, steel – if pipes or plumbing components are made of these materials, freezing water will expand forcefully enough to destroy them. (It does not help that those materials also contract when they are cooled.) You’re probably already aware that lawn sprinkler systems and swimming pools must be winterized for this reason. Well pumps are no exception from the rule.
Well, not all well pumps. Submersible pumps situated deep underwater don’t require winterization, as the water surrounding them will not freeze. You may take extra precaution by lowering a submersible pump motor to the lowest possible depth before freezing weather strikes. But if you have a surface-level well pump, you risk irreparable damage by not winterizing it.
How to Winterize Your Well Pump
- Shut it down. Turn off the water supply line to your house and disconnect electricity to the pump system by flipping the appropriate circuit breaker. (Do not turn off the main breaker.) Performing these steps prevents the pump from running dry, which can damage its seal or cause it to overheat depending on its design.
- Drain the lines. Open your pump’s drain plug (and fill plug, if it has one) and allow all water to empty into a bucket. Turn on all taps in your home until they cease to produce water. Next drain the suction and discharge lines. Finally, loosen the hose clamps that attach the water feed and pump lines to the well pump, allowing water to empty into a bucket. Replace the drain and fill plugs.
- Fill the pump with food-grade propylene glycol. Propylene glycol absorbs water. In its pure form its freezing point is -39° F; its freezing point becomes even lower when mixed with water, which further protects the pump against bursting. Propylene glycol is classified by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” for use in food.
Make absolutely certain you do not use ethylene glycol instead of propylene glycol. It is also an antifreeze, but consuming even a small amount of ethylene glycol can be fatal.
- Blow the lines clear. Use an air compressor to blow out the suction and discharge lines. Doing so will prevent those lines from bursting when freezing water expands inside them.
You are perfectly forgiven if you would prefer not to tend to this crucial aspect of well pump maintenance. If you lack the mechanical acumen, equipment or time to winterize your well pump before freezing weather arrives, then you can count on Geo-Tech of Minnesota to take care of it for you. If you need well pump maintenance, repair or replacement in Western Minnesota or Eastern North Dakota, then we welcome you to contact our professional team today!