Xtreme Heaters vs Uninsulated Pump House
We’re constantly looking for ways to test our heaters in real world conditions. We’ve monitored product performance in controlled conditions and in a number of boats over the years, but haven’t done a lot of testing for some of our alternative markets, until this past winter season. Protecting well houses from freezing is a growing sub-segment of uses customers have found for our heaters. Well houses of course contain pumps and plumbing, which can freeze, leaving a household or business without water.
There are also pump houses that provide water circulation for pools, hot tubs and fountains that could benefit from Xtreme Heaters reputation for safety, effectiveness and efficiency. Over the years people have used a number of methods to keep water flowing and prevent cracked pump housings or pipes. Heat lamps and heat tape are probably the most common tools employed in well houses, but they each have some issues that make them less than ideal. You can read our thoughts on this here: (Link to Well House General Post)
We also like to put our heaters “to the test” in Xtreme situations and conditions (see what we did there?) Situations that we’re not actually sure they will survive going in, like Jeep vs Xtreme Heaters.
Over the winter of 2018-2019, we setup an experiment that we honestly didn’t think would work, but thought the data would be interesting just the same. In other words, as we planned the experiment, we were wondering how bad the heater would fail to do it’s job. Little did we know…..
This well house is a 10×10 garden shed with a 6 foot interior. It’s constructed out of thin steel and completely uninsulated, in fact, it’s very design provides for “ventilation” due to the corrugated metal that is it’s skin.
It’s 30 years old and has some rust-through holes as well. To say this garden shed/well house “breathes” would be a gross understatement. The simple sliding doors leave a lot of gaps for air and heat to escape as well. During the experiment, we didn’t do anything to try and insulate the building other than plugging a lot of the holes with spray foam to see if it would make any difference.
Can an Xtreme Heater keep the pump and plumbing in this shed? How many Xtreme Heaters would it take to make it work? Read on.
We setup and Xtreme 600 Watt heater (XXXHEAT) on a board a few feet from the well pump so that the corner of the building that it is located in would receive direct airflow from the heater.The heater outlet is positioned three feet from the well pump (green).
We then setup a data logger and placed sensors in in several locations inside the building, and one outside to log outdoor temps to compare with the inside sensors. *Note in the photos that the well pump is disconnected from the well head. This well is not currently in use, which is an interesting story on it’s own. That story is at the bottom of the page if you care to read it.
Our expectation going into this was that the heater would do it’s best but fail to keep the pump area above freezing temperatures. We were really looking for how close we could get to that goal so we could make more informed recommendations to our customers.
We were surprised, well that’s not quite right, we were actually thrilled to find that the heater kept up, and while there were some periods of long run times, the pump area never reached freezing temperatures. Check out the graphs for the results from several freeze events that would have put the pipe and well pump in jeopardy of freezing.
In the graph above, you can see the exit air temperature sensor in green. The yellow “humps” on the bottom of the graph represents the power draw. If you look closely, the yellow “humps” drop just before the green exit air line. This is the Xtreme Heater’s “cool down” cycle. Within the humps, you can see how the air temperature at the sensor locations rose.
Story of the Well
As mentioned above, this well has an interesting story to tell. It was originally drilled in the mid 1970’s on a double lot that had a home on it, with a well of its own. It’s a rather shallow “sand well” that is only about 35 feet deep. A home was finally built on the lot in the mid 1980’s and hooked up to this well. At the time, the owner was told that the well might not produce well due to it’s age. It seems common in this area for sand wells to clog with silt, particularly when they sit idle.
This proved true as it would occasionally run dry and take several hours to recover. This was OK, as there was only a single occupant who did a lot to conserve water, but anytime visitors came, it would give up if showers and laundry weren’t timed right. As performance continued to decline, the well was having trouble keeping up with the needs of the homeowner alone, and a pipe was run to the tie this house into the other house on the property.
A Gift from Hurricane Michael
For that past 8 years or so, this well has sat idle, until Hurricane Michael decided to pay our area a visit. While we were spared major wind damage in our rural neighborhood, we were trapped for several days by fallen trees and out of power for 8 days, and for the first time in over 30 years since the house was built, the basement flooded with 6” of standing water. What does this have to do with the well?
Well, a couple of days after the storm, I went out to fuel the generator housed in the shed where the well is, and heard dripping echoing in the well casing. The dripping lasted several days but we were too busy with keeping the lights on cleaning up to think much about it.
Once life began to resemble something close to normal, I primed the old pump and got water out of the well, something I had tried and failed to achieve before the storm. Since we weren’t relying on the well, I decided to stress test it and left it running free for 20 minutes, and it never gave up.
I then tried upping the time over the course of about a week up to 45 minutes of run time, and still was not outrunning the well. While there is no science behind my conclusion, it seems the pressure from the rise of the static water level cleared the “pores” feeding the well, allowing it to continue to refill and restoring the well’s viability as a water source.