off-grid Lake and River Water system pipe
Lake Water System Pipe

Off-grid property owners that must pump water from a lake or river into their home can face serious problems when temps drop below freezing.

While some people occupy their off-grid property during warm weather and close up for the winter, year-round residents need to make sure fresh water is coming into the home at all times.

Different Water Pipe Freeze Scenarios Require Different Solutions

If you have several feet of top soil, you could dig a trench from the house to the lake or river and bury the pipe below the frost line, assuming you have enough fall to avoid standing water in the pipe.

Burying the pipe below the frost line enables you to use whatever pump solution you like as well.

What If I Can’t Bury The Pipe?

But in areas where there is a minimal amount of top soil over solid rock, you may not be able to bury the pipe deep enough below the frost line to reliably keep it from freezing.

In areas where it’s impossible to dig a trench, you’ll have to run the pipe over the top of the ground, leaving the water pipe fully exposed to freezing temperatures.

If you need to keep a shallow or fully exposed water pipe ice-free in the winter, start early enough to fix the problem BEFORE the first frost as you don’t want to start out with a frozen pipe.

Then proceed with a permanent and easy solution to your pipe-freeze problem …

Turn Up the Heat With a HotLine Inside Pipe Heat Trace Cable, Insulation, and Protective Pipe

Do This First:

Measure, order, and install a HotLine Internal Water Heater. *

Easy installation instructions can be found here HotLine Internal Water Pipe Heater Installation Manual and an installation video can be found here HotLine Internal Water Pipe Heater Installation Video.

* HotLine has been tested to keep the the internal temperature of an open air PVC pipe at or above 33° F (0.55° C) down to an ambient air temperature of -20° F (-28.9° C) with no insulation.

Do This Second:

The next thing to do is insulate* and protect the pipe all the way from the warm area in your house to the intake in the water.

Don’t use regular fiberglass household insulation! It will compress and lose its insulating properties.

* Use Hair Felt Insulation

Hair felt insulation is designed to withstand ground conditions and provide lasting protection. It costs more than other forms of insulation but is well worth the expense.

Do This Last:

Seal the insulation and water pipe in plastic PVC.

If you only wrap insulation around your water pipe, moisture and other factors will make it disintegrate.

Additionally, if you allow air to infiltrate (a condition called "breathing"), condensation will build up in the insulation and travel along the pipe, rendering the insulation ineffective.

Protective plastic, carefully installed around the hair felt insulation, ensures that the water line will be protected from freezing for many years.


Each situation is different and your situation may require a different solution.

But if you want to avoid digging up lawns or can't dig at all, an internal pipe heater could be a great solution for the problem.

For more information on HotLine Internal Water Pipe Heaters,

Image of Blair Corder, HotLine Owner and Chief Engineer

Owner & Chief Engineer at , has been helping homeowners, property owners, industrial/commercial plant and procurement managers, and business customers keep their pipes ice-free since 1999.

Contact Blair at (877) 881-2980 or email Blair here