Winterizing a cabin/well


  #1  
Old 07-15-01, 07:45 PM
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My wife and I are attempting to buy a vacation cabin. My biggest concern (other than how to pay for it!) is how to winterize the cabin during the long and frequent periods of cold weather when we won't be there.

The cabin has a well (285 ft deep), a small pressure tank in a crawl space, a propane hot water heater, and all plastic piping (mostly 1/2" and 3/4", ~1-1/2" supply). It's my impression that I'll need to blow the water out of the lines (with an air compressor?) before we leave (except for the hot water tank?), but there presently are no connections to do so. It doesn't look too difficult to cut into one of the water lines to provide an air connection, but I'm totally confused about what to do with the pressure tank. I can't find a shut-off valve on the line into the tank from the well, though there is a valve on the line from the well/tank that feeds the rest of the system. To complicate the situation there's very little clearance (~1-1/2" between the tank and the tee for the supply to the cabin; another 1" between that same tee and the inlet check valve; and maybe 2" on the upstream side of the check valve before it nineties up ~3" into the relief valve) to add more piping or a drain valve to drain the tank ... if that's what I need to do.

ANY insight/suggestions on how best to approach this would be appreciated. The cabin is located in northern Arkansas so while it won't usually be bitterly cold, I would expect it will occasionally get cold enough that the system will need to be protected.

Thanks.
BDY
 
  #2  
Old 07-16-01, 12:00 AM
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To winterize a home on a well:
1. Turn off the gas to the water heater.
2. Turn off the power to (or unplug) the pump.
3. Open all faucets (including outside spigots).
4. Remove the lowest drain plug on the head of the pump.
5. Flush all toilets, and pour anti-freeze in the bowls. Some people use auto anti-freeze, but it is poisonous, and they make an anti-freeze (that isn't) for houses, motor homes, etc. which you can get at home stores.
You should not need to drain the water heater, but you can drain it down if you want by opening the Pressure Relief Valve at the top for air, attach a hose at the drain spigot at the bottom, and drain it down.
You should not need to blow the air out of the lines, as almost all of the water will drain out through the lowest spigot by just opening all of the faucets. However, if you choose to, you can rig a water hose connection (to an outside spigot) to a portable compressor and blow them out.
The pressure tank water pressure should drain out through the pump, if it is an air bladder type.
To get everything up and running after the winter just reverse the process.
1. Close all faucets except to a bath tub (no aerator to clog up).
2. Re-plug the pump head and re-prime the pump.
To prime a pump:
A. You need a crescent wrench, teflon tape and a gallon jug of drinking water.
B. With the pump unplugged or turned off, remove the largest plug on top of the pump head.
C. Wrap 2-3 flat wraps of teflon tape (clockwise only) on the plug threads.
D. Fill pump with water and quickly finger-start the plug while plugging the pump in. Water and air will bubble out as you quickly continue to hand-tighten the plug. If the pump picks up prime, tighten the plug with a crescent wrench.
If it doesn't, just repeat B, C & D until it does.
Once you have water flowing through the tub spout, open all other faucets until the air is out of the lines, and you have a good flow of water out of all of them.
The last thing to do AFTER water is restored, turn on the gas, and re-light the water heater.
Should be good to go. Enjoy your cabin!
Good Luck!


 
  #3  
Old 07-16-01, 10:15 AM
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Old Guy,

Thanks for the quick reply. A couple follow-up questions if I may:

1. We have a well at our current home. There is a metal cap on top but I don't see any drain plugs on the head of the pump. The well at the cabin looks the same. Where exactly would the drain plugs be located ... under the metal cap?

2. You mention that the pressure tank should drain back through the pump. The inlet line from the pump to the pressure tank in this application is about 3" higher than the bottom/inlet of the pressure tank (it elbows down from grade into the bottom of the tank, which is slightly below grade, about a foot or so from the tank ... small crawl space). That would prevent the tank from draining completely. Do I need to be concerned about a residual water heel in the tank?

Thanks again for your help.
BDY
 
  #4  
Old 07-16-01, 06:35 PM
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BDY,
1. No, a drain plug would be a 1/4" plug at the bottom of the head of the pump.
The head of the pump is what is connected to the well by the pipes (a "head" is a cast iron part that includes the nozzle, venturi, impeller, etc....in other words the internal parts of the pump that draws the water to the system). The pump motor would be on the other side of the head, connected by the impeller shaft.
2. No, don't worry about it. It shouldn't freeze enough to damage anything, as long as you drain it all down as suggested.
If you leave all pipes/faucets open, there is room for any small amount of residual water to freeze and expand.
Good Luck!
(BTW, my Mom is from AK, and I'm from NE TX, born in Texarkana, raised in Gladewater, near Longview).
Soooeey! and Hook'em Horns. LOL
Mike

 
 

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