Underground fire heats tap water to boiling?

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To this link
To this statement;

I say malarky, but am I wrong? Does the water actually leave the tap in New Straitsville at 195 (200 is better, imo) to 205 degrees F?

I think it’s just a joke. Water pipes are just a few feet under the ground. A coal mine is likely to be 100s of feet underground. I can’t see those two being close enough to raise the water to boiling. Besides, how would this people shower/cook or do anything with water if their tap was boiling?

If the water were to boil in the pipes, wouldn’t the pipes burst from the added pressure?

The Wiki page says:

Wells; not taps.

That’s what I thought.


In Aruba, you get very warm water from the taps, due to all the water pipes being above ground (and it’s a bit hot there). Not boiling, but certainly not refreshingly cool either!

I’m surprised the well pumps kept working at those temperatures.

Maybe they were using buckets.

Pumps are located at the top of well pipes, generally above ground in the pumphouse. The temperature at the bottom of the well pipe, possibly hundreds of feet below, does not affect them much.

Not necessarily. I have a baseboard water heat system in my house. The furnace also heats my hot water. My almost 50 year old furnace started falling apart last year and was just replaced a couple of weeks ago. About a month before I replaced it, the part that is supposed to turn it off when it reached operating temperature started getting squirrelly. It’s supposed to shut off the furnace at 180 deg or so, but sometimes it wouldn’t shut off until the water started to boil. The pipes would thump and we’d get pockets of steam coming out of the hot water faucet, but nothing burst.

Well pumps can be at the top of the well or the bottom of the well. Depends on the type. There’s nothing in a motor that’s going to stop working at temperatures that boil water, unless the mechanical parts start binding up due to the heat expansion. Otherwise, you aren’t going to get into trouble until the motor heats up enough to melt plastic, at which point you’ll lose the insulation around the wires inside the motor. Once the coils of wire lose their insulation and start shorting out, the motor’s toast.

Not always, and depending on the region, quite possibly not ever. There’s a limit to how far a pump can suck up water through a pipe - usually in the area of 20-50 feet. Any deeper, and the pump has to be underground and in the water.

Ask my uncle about replacing his deep-well pump that was at the far end of 250 feet of pipe…


You are referring to suction-lift pumps, which operate by creating a region of low pressure, which causes the water to flow up. The most a suction-lift pump can even theoretically work at one atmosphere of air pressure is the level of water equivalent to that pressure, which is 33.8 feet deep. In practice, due to the need for pump priming and other losses, you will be lucky to lift much more than 20 feet.

A well only 20 feet deep would be very uncommon. Most wells are either large-capacity wells in unconsolidated material (usually 40-75 feet deep), or small-capacity deep bedrock wells (generally 150-300 feet deep). Large capacity wells may have pump impellors directly attached to a motor down in the well (submersible pumps), or may be connected by a shaft to a motor mounted up the pumphouse (lineshaft pumps). If you’ve seen anything up in a well house, you saw the pump motor, not the actual pump. In either case, the actual rotating pump impellor is down in the well. In any event, a large capacity pump that had an actual well house would be a municipal type well that invariably would require further treatment (e.g. filtration, chlorination, etc.) such that the water would cool by the time it reached any houses.

In small-capacity wells (the type used for a single house), the most common type of well pump are submersible pumps, where the whole well pump, motor included, is lowered down the well shaft. This is almost certainly the type of well being discussed. Any well drilled “hundreds of feet below” in the northeastern U.S. will almost certainly be in the bedrock, which indicates that the flow produced will be relatively low (5-20 gallons per minute). Such a low flowrate (suitable for a single house) would be pumped by a small submersible pump. The water would flow directly into the house being served.

My comment was prompted by the fact that submersible pumps are not designed to operate at near-boiling conditions. In fact, the design generally counts on the water being pumped to cool the pump motor. In addition, hot water being pumped is more likely to boil at the low-pressure side of the pump impellor, resulting in cavitation and possible flow interruption. Also, heat is not generally conducive to long motor life, and if the motor seals fail, the motor will short out. Finally, the bearings and packing are likely to have their life shortened dramatically; when they fail, the pump head will seize up.

Never mind, looks like robby beat me to it, and with a better answer.