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Shallow Frost Protected Water Line

by Tyler

A few weeks ago, our neighbor Justin dug a pair of trenches to our workshop: one from our solar shed (for electricity), and another from our well (for water). The depth of the trenches varies from about three to five feet thanks to all the ledge on our land. We really can't dig any significant distance without hitting bedrock.

Justin Digging Trench for Power & Water with Excavator

While three feet is plenty deep for an electrical run, it's a bit dodgy for water around here, where the frost line regularly exceeds four feet. So, we're trying an experiment to see if we can keep our supply to the workshop flowing year round by burying insulated logstor pex pipe.

Tyler in the Trenches

Usually, this stuff is used for radiant heating systems. For example, when an outdoor wood boiler is situated some distance from the structure it is meant to heat, the supply and return lines are often run trough logstor pipe to prevent heat loss. In our case, we're using it to prevent freezing.

Unfortunately, the pex line that comes embedded in logstor pipe isn't safe for drinking water. To deal with that wrinkle, we're running a slightly smaller, potable-grade water line through it.

PEX Water Line Sleeved through Insulated Pex Pipe

Sleeving two 150ft-long water lines through each hole was quite the feat. The first slid through with hardly any effort at all, but the second, for whatever reason, just wasn't having it. We had to soak it with soapy water, lay on the pipe so it wouldn't move, and push/pull together, jamming it through six inches at a time.

Tara Sleeving PEX Water Line through Insulated Pex Pipe Tyler Sleeving PEX Water Line through Insulated Pex Pipe

Somewhere in there it started raining, and by the time we were done we were soaked, muddy and exhausted. Honestly though, compared to the ordeal that was laying the insulated pipe in the trench in the first place (imagine uncoiling a spring ten feet in diameter), it was a comparative breeze.

We're hoping if we keep the sink dripping slowly in our workshop it will survive the winter without the line freezing. Assuming this works, we'll use the same method for the next house we build on our land. If it doesn't, we'll consider other alternatives, like expensive heat-wire from heatline, drilling a new well near the final house site, or dropping exorbitant sums of money having a trench blasted to it.

Tyler Laying Shallow Frost Protected Water Line

Fingers crossed. We'll post updates eventually.