Pump House Fire

After they got the flames out

After they got the flames out

Whenever it gets below 13 degrees here, which is very rare, the contacts on our pump shrink and we lose water.  Ron has to go out and push the contacts together and it’s usually fine.

It did get down to 4 last night.  And this morning we had no water.  So Ron went out to push the contacts together.  He apparently touched the wrong thing and it sparked, then a fire started.

Huge orange flames were shooting up and I was terrified it would get into the woods.  But the fire department got here before it had time to spread.  Thank God!

So now we have no water and no pump.  I have a call in to my insurance agent.

We do have some water stored and Ron is going to Walmart to get more drinking water so we will be fine.  But no laundry or showers for a while.



  1. cozybegone

     /  January 7, 2014

    Oh Sharon…that’s awful! Thankful Ron didn’t get hurt! I wish there was something I could do….I’ll at least try to send good thoughts and hopeful warmer weather gets back inline. And here is a big HUGE CYBERHUG!!!! C

  2. Mary Alice

     /  January 7, 2014

    I will not mess with the contacts at the well ever again. Be safe and try to stay warm. 17 degrees is pretty cold for the Houston area but your temp is scarey for me. Hope to meet you down the road sometime.

    • I think next time I will supervise so I can see what he is doing. Sometimes he just doesn’t think. Or maybe I will have the new pump house heated so the contacts don’t shrink like that again.

      The cold is scary to me, too. Right now it’s 22 and our high is supposed to be 25. But it is supposed to warm up later in the week.

  3. Oh no! Stay warm and I hope things get back to normal soon!

  4. Oh Dang, glad everyone and most everything is fine! Keep warm.

    • Thanks, Patti. It could have been a lot worse! I am so glad no one was hurt and there was no more serious property damage.

  5. Hi Sharon,

    So sorry about the fire, but I wanted to explain that metal contacts in pressure switches do not shrink when it gets cold. The pressure switch that turns the pump on has to be activated by the water pressure, and more than likely what is happening is that the water was freezing somewhere in the tubing leading to the pressure switch, and with no pressure, the switch can’t activate, unless you do it manually, as Ron was attempting to do. Any time you have water in an unheated area like a pump house, you need to put some heat in there when it gets below freezing. The easiest way to do that is with a thermostatically controlled heat tape right on the affected pipes or tubing. When your plumber/contractor repairs the system, have him add a heat tape to it, and the problem should stop. The heat tape will only come on when it gets cold enough. He can use the same line that feeds the pump motor to power it.

  6. Bonnie

     /  January 7, 2014

    I am glad no further damage took place and that you both and house are OK.

  7. Tim

     /  January 7, 2014

    Glad you guys are ok! So sorry about your fire.

  8. Oh no! I’m so sorry about your fire, but SO glad it was in a separate building from your house! If the weather moderates, maybe you can use the shower in the camper?

    • Right now we have the water system in the camper winterized so it’s unusable. I don’t think we will be without water too long, though. But until it’s fixed, it’s probably back to the good old days of sponge baths.

      We are heating water on the stove to do dishes with now. Toilets don’t flush.. FUN! 😀

  9. EmilyO

     /  January 7, 2014

    I put a special prayer slip in my prayer jar for you.

  10. So sorry about your pump house. It seems there was a pump issue every year until our community pipe came through. Hope insurance responds in a hurry for you!

    • Sue, we could tie into county water. But our well is 300 feet deep through white quartz and green granite and it is the best water we’ve ever tasted. So we’ll pass on county water for a while.

      I hope insurance works fast, too… they told me this is the first claim like this they have ever had.

  11. carmickle

     /  January 7, 2014

    No showers, no laundry, just like dry camping, without the fire of course, Glad Ron wasn’t hurt.

  12. oh my, Sharon…. so glad Ron wasn’t hurt…. that’s scary! good for the fire department to be so quick!

  13. Had the same problem this morning, but thankfully, not the same results. Though I thought I had everything well insulated, the stem on the pressure switch froze just as John explained. A short time with a heat lamp restored everything to proper working order. Good luck with your insurance claim, and getting your water restored. You could always have a new tank set and plumbed, while working through the insurance mess. Then build a new pump house around it.

    • Jerry, that’s what I plan to do. My well guy is coming by in the morning to give me an estimate. I built the original pump house, so I’ll build the new one. Only I’ve learned a lot in 15 years, and the new one should look a lot better.

      Wish I could build a miniature of your blue and white house for it! 🙂

      Apparently we are not alone because the pump repair guy and the insurance office were swamped today! Glad you could fix your own!

  14. JM

     /  January 7, 2014

    So glad you’re both ok! Sorry you have to go without water though. This weather is something else! Stay warm!

    • No water is a pain, but we are telling ourselves we are just boondocking in the house and it makes it a lot more fun!

      The more I think about it, the more grateful I am that we and the critters are safe. And it’s toasty warm the house tonight!

  15. Hook up the Casita and run for warm weather. I feel like an ass for whining about my petty issues. Stay warm. Spring is coming, right?

    • I’ve got a list of irritating little fixes to do on the Casita, too… like replacing one broken cabinet latch, rusty hinges, and the other balky cabinet latches that we’ll soon break if I don’t replace them!

      Check out Interstellar Orchard’s blog post today for what she deals with in her Casita!

      Too bad I’m not younger…. this would make a great “back in the day” story for my hapless audience someday! 😀

      It’s the price we pay for not camping in a tent on the hard ground. Arghhhhh! 🙂

  16. You have a great attitude about this latest mishap…..I will be thinking of you.

    We have survived the cold and are slowly making our way across Texas. This is our 3rd night in a Passport park…..no Walmart boon docking in 17 degrees!

    • I am so glad you are taking advantage of Passport America and not trying to boondock in 17 degree weather!

      We hope to try our PA membership out on our spring trip.

      Take lots of photos for us! 🙂

  17. Marsha

     /  January 7, 2014

    If the weather warms up and gets above freezing you can use the facilities in your Casita. We had to do that when we had septic issues. We’re also on well water, but our well is in our basement so we never have to worry about freezing (and here in Michigan we are freezing).

    Glad everyone is OK and hope you get things up and running soon.

    • It looks like Thursday might warm up enough to fill and use the water tank in the Casita. We will be good and ready for hot showers by then!

      How wonderful to have your well in your basement! I have never heard of that before!

      Thanks for the good wishes. We are still smiling. But Sheba is driving us batty because she can’t stay out all day! 🙂

  18. Horst Kelly

     /  January 7, 2014

    What a way to begin a day….glad that Ron….and you are OK….and that you had someone come out and get started on the fix…..know that this blogging family wishes it was close by to be able to pitch in with getting you Guys “back to whole”….take care, stay warm…and remember you do have a family out here that are …as Carla said …We’re all giving you “Cyberhugs”…Horst sends

    • Horst, I am aware of that family out there and I cherish it. I know that if anyone was close enough to help, they would. One of our dear neighbors has also made the same offer. But we want to see what our well guy has to say tomorrow before we make any decisions about what to do.

      I am just very glad we didn’t start a forest fire! It was very reassuring seeing how fast our rural fire department responded!

  19. Sharon – so sorry for this latest challenge. Tough to deal with any time without dealing with the cold weather, too. I’d love to help with the pumphouse project, but I can’t seem to work with right angles these days!

    • John, you’ve got your hands full… and help is on the way for us!

      I’ll have to check out your latest post to find about about the right angle problem! 🙂

  20. I’m just thankful you and Ron are OK. Hope things are up and running soon the weather start to warm up. This has been a crazy winter. But thinking back I believe it started last year of course this winter has surpassed last.
    BTW, my mom used to call sponge baths chorus girl baths. I have no idea where she got that from.

    • That is the first time I have heard them called chorus girl baths! My mom used to call them kitty baths. 🙂

  21. MarciaGB

     /  January 8, 2014

    Yikes! What an awful thing to happen. I’m glad that you, your property and the woods are all safe.

    • My greatest fear was that it would start a forest fire! The only casualties were that Ron got a few singed eyebrow hairs.

  22. Holycrow 😦
    I’m so sorry that happened to you 😦
    How are things progressing?
    (PS, this is Lorraine from my previous blog Striving For Tiny. I closed it down)

    • Hi, Lorraine! I thought of Striving for Tiny when I saw the allaboutsmall name. Welcome back!

      The guys are supposed to be here first thing in the morning to replace the pump.

      • Oh thank God for the relatively rapid pump replacement!! Was this a pump to your main house or Tiny Camper?
        Ps, Thank you for remembering me ❤ I've decided not to pursue the motorhome living for several reason, but mainly financial. I'm currently blogging on the small life in which I live and love 😀
        I love your blog!

        • It was the pump for the house. The camper is winterized.

          I followed your link and checked out your new blog and figured you had decided not to do the motorhome for a while.

          I ADORE the small life. A tiny house would be so much fun! I follow Tiny House Swoon — and I swoon at every new one they post! 🙂

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