Well/pressure tank problems

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Last winter it got below freezing and stayed that way for weeks on end. The entire time I had no water - I'm guessing the check valve was freezing, because the PT was fine (its 80' away and in the house, pipes and PT itself wrapped in electric pipe tape). Could not get water from the "frost free hydrant", which is a two foot bury and right up against the well casing, or practically so. I have noticed the hydrant is leaning at a significant angle (not straight anymore) as well, I'm not sure what the guy did when he installed it but there is something wrong.

What I THINK is that the hydrant is installed right on top of the check valve with no thermal break, so when it gets really cold the metal pipe of the hydrant conducts heat (from warmer underground to freezing above ground) and the check valve freezes, ergo no water will flow into the hydrant.

Also the PT is a piece of crap. It's an 80 gallon PT, and if the draw down on it is much over five or ten gallons I'll be dipped. I only have to have the hose on for about 3 minutes, and the pump is kicking in. Pressure is set to standard, I forget what that is, but its what most folks have it set to. I've watched the pressure guage, it operates in the normal range.

Now, I've been told that a PT anywhere in the line pressurizes the whole system. Is that true? I get very little pressure by the time I run the water through a hundred feet of hose and up a slight incline to the garden. Can't operate an overhead sprinkler up there no how no way (I know, they're wasteful anyway, but the Irrigro irrigation hose is an item for next year, and the overhead sprinklers are far and away cheaper, but unfortunately virtually useless under these conditions)

Next year I'm going to get started on my geodesic dome, and the current house (when the dome is finished) will become my workshop/canning kitchen/office. Also going up will be a pole barn, I will need water there and water (eventually) in the dome. The dome itself will probably not actually go up until the year after next; I will spend the fall/winter building the panels and storing them in the pole barn.

Anyway. My question is two-fold. What might be wrong with the steenkeeng NOT-frost-free-hydrant that it keeps freezing up and shutting off the water; and how do you handle multiple points-of-delivery in your water system? I'm inclined to replace the sucky PT - if I do, would it do any good to keep the sucky PT in line somewhere (if so, where) or should I just pitch it? In a multiple point of delivery system, what's the best place to put the PT?

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), August 05, 2001


No well expert, Sojourner, but if you don't need the frost proof hydrant, you could dig it up and get it out of there, or move it. You say it's sitting right next to the well casing and that's going to conduct the cold, which may combine with the hydrant's metal pipe to get to the check valve and freeze it. If you need it there or don't want to move it you could put a little well house around it. Common up here in the North Country to do that, just to add some protection and make it easier to work on in the winter if there's a problem. As for the leaning, doesn't sound like a problem beyond aesthetics to me. The hydrant I installed did the same thing and it just looks odd. :) Black plastic pipe and soft ground can do things like that.

Are you sure that it's the check valve freezing, btw? If you've done landscape work around the place recently you may have scraped dirt away from the buried line somewhere else and lowered the dirt insulation level without realizing it. Just an idea.

I don't think it matters where the pressure tank is in the system, but remember the tank has to be in electrical communication with pump to regulate the pressure. So there's no point in getting the pump and tank any further apart than you can help. It doesn't matter as long as you aren't going great distances (1000's of feet) about multiple distribution points. You already have multiple points on your system right now if you have a kitchen and a bathroom. If you add a line going out to a barn or other outside building, the system is not going to treat it any differently. I have my pump and pt in the cellar of the house, and it supplies the house and then goes to the cow barn and milk house and then the heifer barn where it splits off again for multiple waterers and finally out to the leaning hydrant. It's probably a 300' run from the house to the furthest outlet.

I can't see any reason to keep a second pressure tank in the line. I can't even see how you could use it. ?

If you have normal pressure in your house and your garden hose 100' away is very low pressure, that sounds like an occulusion in the line somewhere. Do you have a valve somewhere half turned off? Maybe somewhere you never look? Been there, done that, felt like an idiot over it.

Now maybe someone who is more experienced than me will answer. :)

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (jlance@nospammail.com), August 05, 2001.

Hi, Sojourner,

I wrote a fairly long response to this over at Countryside.


-- jumpoff joe (jumpoff@echoweb.net), August 06, 2001.

Hi Jennifer, my PT is currently in the house I'm building, about 80 or 90 feet away from the well itself. Why is that, you may ask? So I don't have to worry about the thing freezing in cold weather. One way or another, the house will be warm. Folks who had their PTs over the well in a well house out here had burst PTs after last year and the year before's unusually cold weather and ice storms.

When I build the dome I want to move the PT into the dome.

One reason for keeping the old PT if I do get a new one (not sure yet if that is warranted or not) would be to act as a reservoir. It would give me another 80 gallons of water inline for those times when the power goes out and the pump isn't going to kick on.

My set up at that point would be, from the well, about 100' SE to the power pole, about 90' NE to the current house (then guest quarters, workshop and canning kitchen), about 150' to NW to the chicken coop/truck garden, about 150' to 200' SE to the dome (the dome will be about 50' to 100' SE of the power pole). I'm not sure yet just exactly where I'll situate the pole barn. But it'll be within 200' of the well. When the dome goes up, the PT will go there.

In the meantime, maybe I ought to dig up the hydrant and look at what's there. Though I'm really not sure how to interpret anything I'd see ... LOL!

JOJ, I answered your post on Countryside. And yes, unfortunately I'm (still) confused. LOL!

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), August 08, 2001.

Want to send me a sketch of your layout? Or scan and email me one?


-- jumpoff joe (jumpoff@ecoweb.net), August 08, 2001.

If nothing else works, you can increase the diameter of your water hose to 3/4 or 1 inch. THEN REDUCE IT AT THE OTHER END FOR YOUR ATTACHMENTS> This will give more volume and a slight increase in pressure.

-- ANTHONY LAROCCA (nposufo@aol.com), December 19, 2001.

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