Savannah Valley District

Winter is Coming! Insulate Your Water Pipes!

Becky Davis, Savannah Valley Water Resources Agent

Despite the recent unseasonal warm weather, it will get colder! Although only the most northern counties of South Carolina have monthly average temperatures below freezing. It only takes a few hours of temperatures below 25 degrees to cause pipes to freeze! So, now is the time to prepare!

Before covering it with insulation, inspect the components of the well system. Observe the electric wires attached to the pump to be sure there are no breaks in the wire insulation and no corrosion near the connection. Keep the following points in mind to safely reduce the chance of frozen pipes:

  • Detach and drain any unnecessary water lines, hoses, and above-ground irrigation pipes
  • Insulate exposed above-ground pipes – use insulation sleeves and aluminum tape (to protect the insulation from rodents). Remember the smaller the pipe, the greater the possibility that it will freeze
  • Minimize the use of heat tapes. If used, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before purchasing since there are different types for different pipes. Use ones with a built-in thermostat. Never overwrap or cross the wires. Improper installation can lead to fire
  • For extreme cold, temporary non-flammable manufactured well pump insulation can be used to cover the main components. Pressure gauges freeze easily
  • Do not use heat lamps as they can be a fire hazard. Insulating the well components now eliminates the need for them
  • Well components outside a pumphouse should be covered with a sturdy, insulated box, or manufactured-insulated well pump cover
  • For short-term cold snaps, keep cabinet doors open under sinks to allow inside warm air to flow around the pipes. Allow 1 or 2 faucets to drip to reduce the chance that pipes will freeze or burst. There will be a cost involved, but not as much as having a pipe burst!

So, don’t delay, wrap it up!

For other information on residential wells please visit HGIC: Fact Sheet 1901- Residential Drinking Water Well 1st Series, Fact Sheet 1902- Residential Drinking Water Well 2nd Series, Fact Sheet 1903- Residential Drinking Water Well 3rd Series, and Fact Sheet 1803- Landscape Irrigation Management Part 4.

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