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Ground Thawing

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Ground Thawing

Postby Permafrost » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:19 am

So I was at the landing the other day coming back to town and I got to talking to this guy who had just put in a well through permafrost. I thought it was a neat idea so I figured I would share it for anyone in Alaska having similar issues. I think next year I might try it, and I will use the technique to try to thaw a new outhouse hole.

He had a simple set-up for thawing through permafrost to put in a shallow sandpoint well. He had a water pump and hose connected to a pipe assembly. The pipe assembly was a 3" abs pipe & reducer with a 1" pvc pipe inside it the same length as the 3" pipe. Water from the river (through pump) would go down the 1" pipe an thaw the ground and come out around the 3" pipe. Because the river water was above freezing it would melt the permafrost and the whole pipe assembly could slowly be pushed into the ground. Every 5' he had to shut down the operation and cut the top off of the 3" pipe to add another section with a coupler, while the top was off he would yard out the 1" pipe and add another section to the bottom of it. He would then slide the 1" pipe back down the 3" hole and reattach the cap, starting the whole process over again. He said he went down 20' and then hit gravel and the pipe assembly would not move, but gravel is a non-frost susceptible material so he was then able to cut the cap off and pull the 1" out. He then assembled 25' of galvanized 2" pipe and a sandpoint and lowered it down the 3" hole, and proceeded to drive the well the last 5 feet with a sledge hammer. He backfilled between the 3"abs and the 2" galvy with course sand to prevent frost jacking of his well pipe or silt infiltration. He said because the water is directed down and in a concentrated area he got very little melting of the surrounding permafrost, and the morning after he was all finished the 3" had completely frozen in and the frost line was 1' down even right next to the abs. He couldn't tell where the frost line was on the course sand between the casings but he thought all would be fine because any residual water would have drained through before it all refroze again.

I thought this was a very simplistic idea for dealing with a backbreaking problem. I think I'm going to try it with 12" pipe and use it for the perimeter of my new outhouse next year. Currently my outhouses are only about 3' deep because once the bottom thaws enough to dig more the sides collapse or the bottom becomes flooded with water from the melting permafrost. I'm thinking of doing a bunch of holes in line and then breaking them through so I can lower in log cribbing and then just worry about digging out the middle once the sides are stable. Hopefully by next summer I'll have a new outhouse that is like 6' or 8' deep & if I can afford the well casing I might also try the well, I get tired of waiting for the silt to settle out of my drinking water.

Hope this helps anyone up here who is dealing with similar problems.
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