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Cold Weather Pump House  RSS feed

 
Posts: 10
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I Live in Ontartio, Canada and our winters get cold here.  We are building a new house on our 32 acre property and just recently had our well drilled.  I am designing a pump house now and need some help.

I am putting in a simple pump and the whole system will run off of a small solar system.  The pump house will be 10'x10' (max size that I do not need a permit for)  I am going to put a pitless adapter on the well at around 5 feet.  I am thinking the pit of the well will be around 6 feet deep, and be approximately 5'x5'.  The whole pump house will be well insulated and there will be a false floor over the pit allowing the shed to be used for other things as well.  All of my pressure tank, filters and other such plumbing related systems will be in the pit to help it from freezing in the winter.

I was going to pour a concrete floor, and do a cinder block wall up to the level of the ground 6 ' up, and then build the pump house as 2x4 construction.  I had a thought of putting infloor tubes embedded in the concrete and connecting it to the return line from my barn to my outdoor furnace to put a little heat in the building. The heat on the return line will not be allot as it has already run through the barn, but would still have a bit of heat in it that could keep the pump house above freezing.

My question is about the floor in the pit. I was going to do concrete but I wonder if I should just do a footing for the pit walls and use gravel as the floor to allow any water to drain.  The ground is mostly sand where I live so has great drainage.  The water coming from the well is pretty cold (around 50f) so in the summer the pipes and tanks will sweat allot and I feel without drainage it will collect on the concrete.

What would other suggest?  Does this seem logical.  Is a 5x5x6 pit large enough to hold all plumbing and possible batteries for the solar system?  
 
Posts: 88
Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
9
bee chicken solar
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Kirk, last fall I built a well pit in Colorado to keep well equipment from freezing.  Mine is 5x5x6 like you are thinking.  However I put 18" of foam on top then about the same depth of dirt.  Access is thru a shaft alongside with foam plug at ceiling level.  Floor is gravel, walls 2x6, ceiling is 4 quad 2x6 beams.  The space inside is definitely tight, I have pressure tank and carbon filter inside against back wall and I can move around to work pretty well.  My pit was 50 degrees in mid winter during 5 degree period.  So some things I would say, 1-hopefully your well is not going to terminate in the pit, danger of contamination and is illegal in most places. 2-I love the gravel floor, especially when I drain my irrigation lines, I just drain onto gravel ant the water drains away. 3-even though it keeps warm from ground temp, it's very humid, so concrete block walls would be better, I would be sure to compact backfill in small lifts so there is not excessive pressure on walls. I have one place where there is some bowing. 4-plan on having a catastrophic flooding event and keep that in mind during design.  I had a pvc male adapter attached to the pitiless crack, and the water traveled the 10' along the pipe into the pit and filled it with water while I was away.  Ruined the Franklin subdrive and blew breakers.  When I got back the pit was dry, I moved the subdrive out of the pit after that. 5-not sure what batteries you are planning on using, but I think they should be vented, hydrogen released during charging??  And they probably wouldn't like being flooded.  6-if you have a shed over the pit, maybe consider insulating the floor to save ground heat in the pit.  Just to be extra safe, I put a small heater in my pit plugged into one of the thermostat blocks that turns on when it senses a fixed cold temp.  Mine was $12 at a big box store. 7-I have electricity run Into my pit, all in conduit In case there was flooding and had to replace burned wires.  All circuits have gfci breakers back In the electrical panel.  Hope this helps
 
Kirk Neuert
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Hey Kevin, thanks for the reply.  I wondered about floods.  That was the other reason I thought gravel would be the way to go.  I do plan on having a shed over the pit.  The shed itself will be 10'x10'.  The roof will hold the solar panels.  The shed itself will also be insulated so that will help the pit stay warm.  I like the idea of insulating the roof of the pit as well.
 
gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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All great observations, Kevin. One comment I would have is that 18" of foam in the pit roof is way overkill - the heat that leaks into the walls and up around the pit would be far greater than what would escape directly up. I would suggest taking maybe half of that foam and spreading it around the pit a foot or so below the surface, to keep the whole block of soil warmer. That would minimize any frost heave against the pit walls, too.
 
Kevin Derheimer
Posts: 88
Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
9
bee chicken solar
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Glen, yes, foam overkill! I had some leftover from passive house build and didn't want it to go to lanfill.  It overhangs the pit roof to insulate surrounding soil, same thought.
 
Posts: 19
Location: Starksboro, Vermont
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I'm about to setup a very similar system in Vermont. Though I was planning on doing a more bunker style pump house. Essentially a small root cellar like structure. While i'd like to take the time an make a stone structure, as they say, winter is coming (actually it's already here). I think that I'm going to do something similar to Sepp's earthen animal shelters, but enclosing the open side with a door. I'll probably run an earth tube or two to get a little extra heat in there and provide for a great floor drain. Insulation over the top will be wood chips and tarps to keep them dry, all buried under a couple feet of soil. I'm planning on keeping the well head outside of the pump house so if there is an issue with the pump/or well itself it will be easier to deal with. I'll use a pitless to get the waterline into the pump house which will house the batteries, electronics, filters and pressure tank. From there lines will distribute pressurized water around our property.

Kirk - I'm interested in what power/pump system you chose to go with?
 
Kirk Neuert
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Hey Dale,  Sounds like a good build.  I am using the 24 volt Simple Pump.  I am going off grid and the Simple pump gets pretty good reviews.  Also like the fact that it can convert to a hand pump and still pressurize the system.

I have to have the well pump inside because of the way the Simple Pump attaches, so I am going to put a skylight or hatch in the roof in case service is needed.
 
Dale Walker
Posts: 19
Location: Starksboro, Vermont
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I was going to go that route... but the well drillers really did a good job talking me out of it. I'd like to put a simple pump in the future as a back up. When i run pipes between the well and the pump house I'll add an extra one to be able to pressurize our system from the simple pump. Shouldn't be a problem in freezing weather as long as you make sure that the water drains from the pump and exposed lines when you're done moving water. In your case as the primary pump, I think you're making a wise choice keeping it inside.

We're going with a grundfos SQFlex, powered by 48V 130AH battery. I also in the future would like to set that pump up on direct solar pump with a pressure pump on the battery from a cistern.  Time and money crunch currently...
 
Kirk Neuert
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We are using the pitless adapter with the Simple pump, so the setup is the same.  No water to drain from the lines.  All water will be 6 feet under ground
 
Dale Walker
Posts: 19
Location: Starksboro, Vermont
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How are you setting up your simple pump with a pitless? I was under the impression that water has to go through the pump head a top the well casing. Which I guess in your case is inside the pit in your pump house...
 
Kirk Neuert
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No it does not have to go through the head.  They have a pitiless option, you just need to specify that in your request for a quote.  My well head is 18 inches above the surface, but the pitless is about 5 ft under ground.

Contact Simple Pump.  Don't let your well guys talk you out of anything.  They probably just don't understand the way it works
 
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