There are thousands of water wells throughout Lake and Sumter counties, which provide homeowners with drinking water and irrigation. These wells need a little extra attention when the weather turns cold. For new residents to the area, don’t scoff at Central Florida winters. Freezing temperatures are more common than you think, and it’s not uncommon to have several days in the mid to low 20s during winter. Freezing weather and water do not mix very well, and it never fails on the coldest day of the year, many homeowners lose water.
Jeremy Skinner is the third-generation owner of Earl’s Well Drilling and Pump Service. His company has been installing and servicing wells throughout the area for more than 50 years, and he has some great tips for keeping your well running during the winter months and helping you avoid costly service calls. It is good advice for homeowners to have their wells serviced yearly or call a service repair person if they are uncomfortable with the following tips or other basic maintenance around the home.
“Each well has a pressure switch and just below it is a small pipe where can water can freeze causing your well to stop working,” says Skinner. He suggests that on very cold nights homeowners ensure this small section of pipe is well insulated or faucets are dripping to prevent freezing. If the pipe freezes, the easiest way to get your well working again is to take a hairdryer to that small section of pipe and thaw it out. Normally, after a few minutes, the water will begin to flow again to the pressure switch allowing the well to function properly again.
Another problem with wintertime is critters and bugs search out warm spots to survive. Frequently, a lizard or snake may take shelter in the well’s pump control box. “It is not uncommon to see a lizard inside the control box, which can trip breakers, which are normally on the bottom of the box,” says Skinner. This box controls the well, which is typically submersed at the bottom of the well. He suggests the homeowner reset the breakers by pressing them in—normally this will restore power back to the well. If that does not work, the cover of the box can be removed to see if a critter is shorting out the box. It is very important to turn off all power before opening the box. Once again, if you are not comfortable doing this, call a service technician. If there is a short or a failing part to the control box, it can usually be replaced.
The other issue during winter is ants seeking warm refuge in the pressure switch. As the contacts of the pressure switch open, ants or other small bugs can get caught in these contacts creating a malfunction in the pressure switch. Just like when the water freezes, this will stop your well from working. It is imperative that you treat for ants and other bugs around your water well to prevent problems with your pressure switch.
When asked what the best method is for keeping pests, ants, and bugs out of the well’s control box and pressure switch, Jeremy Skinner provides a simple, affordable solution. “Put mothballs in your control box to keep pests out and mothballs will also keep ants out of the pressure switch,” says Skinner. A simple, inexpensive mothball could help you avoid loss of water on a cold morning and a costly service call.
Before it gets cold, check your well’s insulation, look for bugs and pests around the well, and put out a few mothballs. Chances are, if you have your well maintained yearly and utilize these tips, you will always have water.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the Around the House TV show on LSTV and LakeSumterTV.com at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and at 7 a.m., Noon and 6 p.m. Saturday.