Q. I recently bought a home with well water. I travel a lot, and I’m sometimes away from home two weeks at a time. I worry in the winter about water in the house freezing and bursting pipes. Would it be wise to turn power off to the pump at my electrical panel circuit breaker or would that be damaging to the pump to leave it unpowered for weeks at a time?
It’s smart that you’re being proactive and thinking about this in advance. I think, because you are unfamiliar with your system, it’s a good idea to have a consultation with a reputable well system specialist who can educate you about your system.
That said, as long as the heat in the house is not turned off – and you don’t lose power while you’re gone – your pipes should not freeze and burst. But I understand your trepidation.
My advice is to go ahead and shut off the breaker to your well pump as well as the isolation valve on the supply line when you are going away for more than a few days. Make sure you turn off the right switch and that it’s dedicated only to the pump and not something else. This is a good safety measure any time of year. In the event of any type of leak, the house won’t flood and suffer potentially catastrophic damage.
By shutting off the breaker, there should be no harm to the well pump system, provided the pump system is in good mechanical working order. However, you should also shut off the power to the hot water heater. In rare cases, a broken water line can siphon water out of the hot water heater, causing damage to the unit.
One last word of caution before shutting off the well pump system: First, make certain there is no requirement for water during your absence, such as make-up water for a heating system, such as a hydronic unit. If you’re not certain about your system requirements, I recommend talking to a reputable heating and cooling specialist.