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Question DetailsAsked on 1/20/2018

Turned on water pump, hear rushing water under floor. pump is turned off every winter - never had this happen

We turn off the water pump each winters because we use the house only once a month. This time we have been away for 2 and the temps have been below freezing. When I turned the pump on, I hear water rushing - sounds like under one section of the floor. This has never happened before. I immediately turned the pump off, and now have no running water because I'm scared maybe a pipe burst?

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Voted Best Answer

Considering many areas have had record cold recently, this might not be surprising- in fact a broken pipe is likely if the lines were not deliberately drained out last time you left.

Turning the water off does nothing to protect the system unless the pump does not have a footvalve, which keeps the water from draining back down through the pump when it is off. Pipes would stilll be full of water, so if they freeze up can split.

If you are able to remove the cover to the well (sounds like it is under the house) and look down with a flashlight you might be able to see (with pump on for a few seconds) whether water is gushing out in the well (so a job for a Wells and Pumps category contractor) or is a broken distribution line under the house (job for a Plumber). Of course if well is away from the house - out in the yard - then running water sounds under the house would be a job for a plumber.

Generally, if you have a submersible pump AND it is fully under water, it would not freeze up itself, but can still be damaged by the high pressure caused in the lines by the expanding ice. But if you turn it on and hear it run and hear water gushing out under the floor, sounds like it made it though OK - and you have a broken pipe under the house. Time to call a Plumbing contractor (your Search the List category to find well-rated and reveiwed vendors for this work).

And maybe time to talk to a well contractor about how to drain a well-supplied system for a house that is rarely used - there are devices made to install below the submersible pump, or down in the well in the event of a surface-mounted pump, to allow draining out of the water lines back into the well to winterize them - commonly a lever-action valve with a pull cable on it leading to the surface, and there are also ones that automaticlaly drain back when the pressure drops to a very low value like this one - though for wells not at about same elevation as the house foundation the house lines have to be drained at the well head first to get the line pressure low enough for them to open.

And of course, when winterizing a house like this, leaving a few drain valves or faucets open where some water flow will not cause damage can relieve the pressure in the lines and maybe prevent splitting if any water stays in the lines. Lines in houses intended as summer/vacation homes should be installed with draining or blowing out with a compressor in mind, with proper sloping to fully drain when the system is drained - though dishwasher, clothes washer, etc have to be drained separately.

Bear in mind, after any break is repaired, the system should be pressurized up, then with no water uses or sound sources on (no stereo, TV, fans, etc) listen at the pipes/faucets for any souknd of water running before the plumber leaves - you may well ahve multiple breaks, depending on your piping layout and exposure to the cold.

You may also have faucet seals blown out by the pressure from the expanding ice pushing them out of their seats.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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