Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

March 17, 2015

Well, Well, Well... What to do When Your Well Runs Dry in Winter

A small part of me was hoping it was actually chocolate milk...
It's been over a year since we moved out to the sticks and I have to say that other than close proximity to grocery stores for late night ice cream runs, I don't really miss living in the city.  That's not to say that country living doesn't have some pitfalls.  Most recently, our well ran dry.  Cue the sad trombone!  (If you follow me on Instagram, this isn't news to you, but here's the longer story.)  My Mummu and Mom were actually visiting me when I consumed the last drops of water.  We were tinkering with the Etsy shop, photographing new items and writing listings.  I was washing a few new finds when the water started to come out in spurts - like there was air in the lines.  Was the pump failing?  Were the lines frozen?  Was the well dry?  All of these were questions that I was ill-equipped to answer.  Hubby was out of town so, at a loss, I crawled into our basement to investigate.  The pump was working overtime and making angry noises, but I didn't spot anything else out of order.  I wasn't standing knee-deep in water, so that was a good sign.  I tried calling Hubby, but I couldn't reach him.  It was getting dark and I didn't like the prospect of a water-less evening, so I tossed some clothes in a duffel bag and booked it into town, actually "blowing the doors off" my Mom's Jeep as I passed her on the highway (in my zeal to enjoy a nice hot shower).  I was able to reach Hubby shortly after rolling into town.  He asked if I'd thrown the breaker on the pump before I left.

Nooo....

At 10pm my Dad and I drove the hour back out to the lakehouse, and I threw the breaker (puttered for a few minutes, to my Dad's chagrin), and then drove another hour back into town.  At least I could sleep easy, knowing the pump wouldn't overheat and catch fire.  The next morning I drove back out to our house to meet my father-in-law, who kindly drove out from his place to investigate.  Long story short: our well was dry!  I also learned that the well cover is ridiculously heavy concrete.  We suspect that because of our really, really cold winter, coupled with very little snowfall, the three sources that feed our well had frozen.  That's the problem with less snow: it doesn't provide the insulation we country folk need.  Fortunately the lines to our house weren't frozen, so we were able to pay for a water delivery ($225).  At first, the water level kept dropping so the whole truck ended up getting pumped into our well - it's the same price, apparently, whether we need some or all of the water.  We had no idea if the water would stay, or disappear overnight, because unlike a reservoir a well won't just hold water indefinitely.  I started melting snow to flush the toilets and we crossed our fingers.


It looks like topping it up - combined with balmy temperatures that helped things thaw - worked, because we're back in business.  We check the level daily and, not only did enough water stay in the well, it also looks like water is coming in again because the levels have dropped only a little bit.  Whew!  Happily, this didn't happen earlier in the winter because we might have had to make a monthly, or weekly, appointment for water.  I know people who have gone a month or more without water because their well or water lines froze, and so a water delivery wouldn't even help.

Just another reason to love spring!  And another way that rural living keeps us on our toes.  Next time I'll have to tell you about our $400 internet bill...
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10 comments

  1. When we had a well it didn't run dry, but it froze and we were without water until things thawed and we lived in Georgia, it shouldn't get that cold here. Glad you have water again.

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    1. A frozen well is much worse!! Same with frozen lines - not much to do but wait for thaw. We were very, very lucky to have a fixable problem. I much prefer a problem I can just throw money at, lol. Wow - didn't realize you could have a frozen well in Georgia!

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  2. Learning curves. Becoming a country mouse is crazy complicated!

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    1. Haha, yes! Note to self: try to check well level somewhat regularly!

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  3. How fabulous is running water? Glad your situation has been righted! I will patiently wait for the internet story!

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    1. Running water is such a LUXURY! I appreciate it much more now (and have been trying to be really good about conserving). The internet story highlights my ignorance and optimism quite nicely, lol...

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  4. Seems like when your hubby is out of town something is bound to go wrong. Wasn't he out of town when the smoke detector was going off for no reason too? Glad everything is back up and running for ya.

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    1. It's our joke - when he leaves, things go to pot. When I leave, to visit friends or family, or for a conferences, all is well with the world. His lives continues to run smoothly. When he leaves, the power goes out, the well dries up, the smoke detector malfunctions, the bears get too close for comfort. Luckily we've got a great support system and family is always willing to help get me out of a sticky situation. Another reason we moved back closer to where we grew up! On the bright side: it keeps me relatively competent because I need to deal with so much crap. I don't panic when it happens and I'm alone - I expect it to happen when I'm alone, lol.

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    2. Having family close is always a good thing.......well, unless you don't like them. Use of the word "well" there was not deliberate, just punny. lol

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