Sunday, October 26, 2014

A New Well House

One of the many things Brett and I had to learn when we moved up here to Oak Creek Ranch was how to manage a well. We came from Aspen Meadows, our ranchette in a small rural community in Southern California (yes, there are a few of them). The wells in that community had stopped producing enough water for the residents before we moved up. There was a water bond assessed to each property that gave us access to city water.

At Oak Creek Ranch, we are on a well. It isn't the world's highest producing well, but it has been a consistent producer for thirty years. We have enough water for a family of four in the house and enough to keep the water troughs full. There isn't enough water to irrigate the pastures which is okay. We feed hay in the dry months. Previous owners had to be careful not to run the dishwasher, the clothes washer or the shower at the same time. Fortunately for us, the guy who flipped the house before we bought installed a 2500 gallon water tank so we can shower and do the dishes without worrying. We are still careful, though. We have neighbors who have wells that have run dry. And, while we love wine, we don't love the amount of water taken from the water table by the local wineries. It's a love/hate relationship.

Last December we had a hard freeze in the first week of the month; coupled with heavy snow fall. Despite Brett wrapping all the pipes in the barn and down by the well, the valve on top of the well broke. We were without water for almost two weeks. It was not a good time -- buying gallon jugs of water and dumping them in the toilet tank so we could go to the bathroom; hiking through the snow up the road to our neighbors to take a shower; and watching the water trough levels drop every day. There was a well house over some, but not all of, the well pipes.  It was a flimsy affair with thin walls and offered little protection.

The first order of the day was to get electricity down to the well house, in the proper voltage, so we could plug in a heat lamp or light bulb on cold nights. This past summer an electrician dug a trench from the barn, into the mare's pasture, all the way across the pasture, under the fence, and down the driveway to the well house.

Brett thought long and hard about the best way to build the well house, getting advise from friends, neighbors and well workers. In the end, he decided on a shed-like structure that covered the well pipes and was well insulated.

First, a cement pad was poured and the old well house removed.

The new well-house has a cement floor,

and thick wood sides with super thick insulation.

There is an outlet inside where we can plug in a lamp.

Brett painted it to match the house.

Fingers crossed for an uneventful winter with the well.


  1. are going to have to keep that man around. He is so talented!

  2. a very good investment, i think.

  3. What a cute well house!

    We have similar issues with freezing pipes here, even though we are on city water. It's bad enough that we often shut the water off at the street and drain all the pipes on particularly cold nights.

    I hope your lovely new well house keeps all the pipes warm and happy for many years to come!

  4. We have been there. One cold winter we were suddenly out of water. Keith climbed down into our well house (you are so lucky to be above ground)... and the filter had frozen solid. From then on, we kept a heat lamp burning in the well house during the winter months, and never had a problem again. Our well is 140 feet deep... there is a water table at 30... and a water table at our depth that has lasted for 9 years so far, through two drought years. I say is still working, because even though we aren't living there, I am out there almost every day and am still watering some flowers and watering the dogs!

  5. That's one of the nicest looking well houses I've seen!


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