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  #1  
Old 08/19/11, 06:00 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
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Insulated Pump House

From this thread on shallow wells I have decided that I should build an insulated pump house. Here are some pictures of a design I came up with. Unfortunately I couldn't get the program to show you the framing of the box. What do you think? This would be located in zone 5, Michigan. We have a solar for electricity and we are offgrid.

Here are the specs:

- Top to bottom, without the hinged "roof" is 6 ft tall
- 4 ft wide
- Marine grade plywood over treated 2x4's
- Black poly plastic covering the plywood sides
- Hinged steel roof, also framed with treated 2x4's
- Heavily insulated with rigid foam board

My plan was to buy it 3 ft in the ground with 3ft of the pump house above the surface. The diagrams show the shelf that holds the pump and pressure tank at the 3ft level. I will need to frame the shelf to support the weight of the pressure tank adequately.

I was also planning to backfill around exposed 3 ft of the pump house with dirt and river stone to help insulate the box above the ground.

Thoughts? I was also planning to wrap the pipes with the electrical warming "tape" that would be controlled via a thermostat.

What do you think?



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  #2  
Old 08/20/11, 09:47 AM
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My plan was to buy it 3 ft in the ground with 3ft of the pump house above the surface
I don't see the point in going below the surface with the building itself
If you're trying to insulate below the frost line, you can accomplish that by burying styrofoam insulation around the perimeter then backfilling

Any wood below grade level is going to rot pretty quickly.
Instead of coveriing with dirt and rock, I'd use thick styrofoam on the inside.

If I were determined to cover it with dirt and rock, I'd build it out of concrete block so it would never rot

I'd also consider giving yourself enough headroom to work inside without being on your knees
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  #3  
Old 08/20/11, 03:48 PM
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Put an electric heater inside of it. I would use a 2 foot baseboard heater.

Lay your styrofoam flat around the perimeter. So it is 4 feet in every direction, That is the new building code, supposedly it works better than putting it strait down 4 feet.

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  #4  
Old 08/20/11, 10:11 PM
 
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Pour a slab over styrofoam insulation, build a small wooden well insulated shed big enough to cover the pump and tank, use spray in expanding foam to fill all cracks. Build it so you can remove easily. A 60 watt light bulb a foot off the floor near the piping will keep it from freezing if you are using water, it is above freezing and the pump makes some heat. Never had one freeze....James

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  #5  
Old 08/21/11, 01:10 PM
 
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Thanks for the advice. Looks like I may keep it off of the ground with cinder blocks and then mound dirt around it -- with a plastic barrier. I can't use 60 watt bulbs or similar because this is off-grid. I am trying to use the natural temperature difference with the ground and below the freeze line (36" to 42") to help keep the pump house above freezing.

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  #6  
Old 08/21/11, 07:15 PM
 
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Location: northcentral MN
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If you are intending on using the heat from the groundwater 3' below the ground level it should work fine. There's an almost infinite amount of heat in it. They make livestock waterers that work on the same principle.

I think marine plywood should last a long time under those conditions.

For the first winter you may want to drain the system just to make sure it works. Put a glass jar filled with water and capped to see if it freezes while you are gone.

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Last edited by fishhead; 08/21/11 at 07:18 PM.
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  #7  
Old 08/21/11, 08:30 PM
 
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fishhead, I was thinking of setting some PVC pipes vertically in the ground before and backfilling in around them, under the pumphouse. Do you think this would be enough to let some warm air rise from the ground?

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Originally Posted by fishhead View Post
If you are intending on using the heat from the groundwater 3' below the ground level it should work fine. There's an almost infinite amount of heat in it. They make livestock waterers that work on the same principle.

I think marine plywood should last a long time under those conditions.

For the first winter you may want to drain the system just to make sure it works. Put a glass jar filled with water and capped to see if it freezes while you are gone.
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  #8  
Old 08/21/11, 09:02 PM
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I was thinking of setting some PVC pipes vertically in the ground before
I don't think you'd get any circulation that way.

If you made "U" shaped pieces, it might draw up some air, especially if one side was higher than the other.

Another thing is if it's insulated REALLY well, you could heat it with a kerosene lantern, or even a few large candles
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  #9  
Old 08/21/11, 11:00 PM
 
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Dad's old well pit is caving in, I've been after him to see about getting some of these new Styrofoam building forms and pour a new one. There is an old well pit on this place that was made by digging the walls out with post hole diggers and pouring them then digging the pit out.

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Old 08/22/11, 08:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PorkChopsMmm View Post
fishhead, I was thinking of setting some PVC pipes vertically in the ground before and backfilling in around them, under the pumphouse. Do you think this would be enough to let some warm air rise from the ground?
I tried that with a goose waterer but found that it takes a large pipe like the size of a culvert to allow enough heat to rise. A 4" pipe was not enough. When I put a 60 watt bulb in the same insulated waterer I could keep a bucket of water open at -30 F.

I think if you dig the hole the size of your insulated pump house and dig it deep enough to reach the water or get close to it that should be enough. Or if you didn't want to do that I would think a piece of 24" plastic culvert dug down to the water should be enough. You might be able to find a scrap piece for that.

The key is to insulate the pump house well (6" of foam?) and to expose a large area of the groundwater heat to the pump house interior.

Do a search for geothermal livestock waterer or something like that.
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  #11  
Old 08/22/11, 11:59 AM
 
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Fishhead I did the search and turned up one of your threads. Very good info. Yes, I plan on insulating the pump house to an extreme. Would you add in a vent for summertime use so moisture wouldn't build up or am I overthinking things? I plan to make the pump house very well insulated and as air tight as possible.

I have already put out some feelers for pipe that matches your dimensions. Thank you for all of the help!


Quote:
Originally Posted by fishhead View Post
I tried that with a goose waterer but found that it takes a large pipe like the size of a culvert to allow enough heat to rise. A 4" pipe was not enough. When I put a 60 watt bulb in the same insulated waterer I could keep a bucket of water open at -30 F.

I think if you dig the hole the size of your insulated pump house and dig it deep enough to reach the water or get close to it that should be enough. Or if you didn't want to do that I would think a piece of 24" plastic culvert dug down to the water should be enough. You might be able to find a scrap piece for that.

The key is to insulate the pump house well (6" of foam?) and to expose a large area of the groundwater heat to the pump house interior.

Do a search for geothermal livestock waterer or something like that.
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  #12  
Old 08/22/11, 12:07 PM
 
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Do you have a way to vent it in the summer? With the black plastic it may get toasty in there. Ours is insulated log in the shade and gets hot. We keep a close eye on the temp because our batteries and inverter are in there too.

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  #13  
Old 08/22/11, 12:14 PM
 
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I am thinking of putting in a foundation vent that is "seal-able" for winter with a foam block. I wonder if it would be needed if I have the pipe venting 50 or 60 degree temperatures into the pump house. My inverter and batteries will be located in our cabin (AGM batteries, so safe for interior non-vented use) although I am tempted to build the pump house bigger and put them in there.

I am thinking of a vent like this...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Parttimefarmer View Post
Do you have a way to vent it in the summer? With the black plastic it may get toasty in there. Ours is insulated log in the shade and gets hot. We keep a close eye on the temp because our batteries and inverter are in there too.
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  #14  
Old 08/22/11, 12:41 PM
 
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I like that! Is there some sort of screening to keep mice out?

We also stack straw around it in the winter. I forgot about that until I thought about mice.

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  #15  
Old 08/22/11, 12:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PorkChopsMmm View Post
Fishhead I did the search and turned up one of your threads. Very good info. Yes, I plan on insulating the pump house to an extreme. Would you add in a vent for summertime use so moisture wouldn't build up or am I overthinking things? I plan to make the pump house very well insulated and as air tight as possible.

I have already put out some feelers for pipe that matches your dimensions. Thank you for all of the help!
I don't know about the venting. My pump and indoor intake pipe drips all summer in my basement from the cold well water in the plumbing.

Maybe there would be a way to seal the second "story" from the moist air below during the summer.
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  #16  
Old 08/22/11, 05:24 PM
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I'd keep the batteries inside where it wil be much warmer.
Batteries and cold aren't compatable.

The vent is a good idea too

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Old 08/22/11, 05:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parttimefarmer View Post
I like that! Is there some sort of screening to keep mice out?

We also stack straw around it in the winter. I forgot about that until I thought about mice.
I think it has some sort of screen but I was going to put wire hardware mesh over it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearfootfarm View Post
I'd keep the batteries inside where it wil be much warmer.
Batteries and cold aren't compatable.

The vent is a good idea too
Yes, plus I need to limit the scope of this project. It could grow into a whole barn if I let it.
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  #18  
Old 08/22/11, 05:42 PM
 
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We have a nice log barn, everyone should have one, LOL!

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  #19  
Old 08/24/11, 08:55 AM
 
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Here are some updated pictures of my design. Walls that are traditionally framed for strength, sitting on cement blocks, etc. My plan is to still mound dirt up around 3 sides and leave one side exposed. This wall will also be removable to access the pump.





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  #20  
Old 08/24/11, 09:13 AM
 
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I would put the blocks on a trench of gravel if you have the same sandy soil. Also I would do 3 blocks across the front so the ugly sides aren't showing. Otherwise it looks good!

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