View Full Version : Keeping your water hydrant thawed?

Sing Mia Song
Jan. 16, 2009, 06:47 PM
What sort of jury-rigs do you guys have to keep your hydrant warm? Mine is sunk below the frostline, and it drains fine--it's the nut on the handle that freezes. A friend told me she puts a stovepipe over hers with a heat lamp and a bucket over the top. Sounds good, but I'm a little afraid of fire.

What tips does the COTH community have?

Loves to ride
Jan. 16, 2009, 06:53 PM
Sing Mia Sing, I'm glad you posted this as I have the same issue and it's with the hydrant *inside* the barn.

No suggestions, but, like you, I'm afraid of fire so I'll be interested to see what folks say!

Bayou Roux
Jan. 16, 2009, 06:59 PM
We wrap ours in a horse blanket burrito. So far, so good.

Jan. 16, 2009, 08:05 PM
Yep - I have two that are now frozen. Looking for answers along with the rest of you!

Jan. 16, 2009, 08:13 PM
Get a blowtorch with the trigger ignitor from tractor supply, just heat up the head and keep working the handle, you may even see a bit of water drip from the spout,, always remove the hose

Good luck,

Paddys Mom
Jan. 16, 2009, 08:44 PM
Plenty of WD40 applied around the top of the hydrant (not where the water comes out). :yes:

Jan. 16, 2009, 08:50 PM
My hydrant is outside right next to the heated trough. I find it freezes only once it gets wet, so I cover it with a bucket. If despite my best efforts it does freeze, I just pour water from the heated trough over it, and it thaws very quickly.

Jan. 16, 2009, 09:17 PM
We wrap ours in a horse blanket burrito. So far, so good.
I wrap mine with my down barn jacket when I leave... I had a bit of a tussle with it this morning though, but cupped my hands over the nut and blew warm air on it and she finally opened up :) WD40 sounds like a great idea!

Jan. 16, 2009, 09:17 PM
Heat tape :). Our hydrant by the barn froze, badly. We got it thawed by taking it apart, pouring boiling water down the pipe, siphoning it out, pouring more boiling water in, siphoning it out and so on, about 20 times. Then it thawed out and we had a fountain :eek:. We quickly screwed the top back on it and got it shut off.

Since I didn't look forward to doing this again, we wraped it with a heat tape, and wrapped that with insulation AND we put an insulated water jug over the top of it. Looks kinda funky but frozen hydrants are no fun.

If it is just the nut that is getting frozen, a blow dryer works great! Also WD40 or PAM will keep your nuts loose :lol:.

Jan. 16, 2009, 09:25 PM
I get to it about 15 min before I need to use it, clip a clamp-on light bulb next to it, assuming you have power that close. I once froze a hose , a 3foot length, but I'd left the end in thebucket and it was attached to the hydrant. The hair drier fixed that one.:yes:Of course, these fixes are reliant on an electic source nearby.

Jan. 16, 2009, 09:46 PM
Heat tape and pipe insulation. We plug in the heat tape about 15 min before we run water and it is fine. My hydrant is in the unheated garage and it's can get pretty cold in there, probably around 0 lately.

Bank of Dad
Jan. 16, 2009, 10:24 PM
Ug, mine too. Tomarrow I plan to wrap it in a heating pad and leave the blow dryer running on it for a while. Meanwhile, its shlepping water from the house. I HATE WINTER.

Jan. 16, 2009, 10:39 PM
There are Styrofoam type covers,
and you can have a frost free (I was looking for this for another thread)

(the second last one is a job for a plumber, but it does explain it)

Tom King
Jan. 16, 2009, 11:01 PM
Just like GoshenNY says, to me a self igniting propane torch makes all sorts of things easier when it gets really cold.

King's Ransom
Jan. 16, 2009, 11:06 PM
Tom King suggested last year, when I asked this same question, the little propane blow torch. It works GREAT! And, it's kinda FUN! Just be sure not to catch any stray hay on fire!

Also, be SURE to remove the hose every time ... and drain it, too, so it won't be frozen when you need to use it again. Misty Blue told me to throw the hose over the barn rafters and pull it through to drain it -- works perfectly.

I only survive winter because of CoTH advice! :yes:

Jan. 17, 2009, 10:23 AM
If it is a frost free hydrant, it shouldn't be freezing at all in the first place. Is it draining properly? Is it leaking at a seal (maybe where the rod goes through to work the plunger)? If so, it is just a couple of "O" rings, easy fix. Sometimes you can just tighten the nut a little to stop a leak. You can buy kits to repair most any brand of hydrant.

Meanwhile a hair dryer or heat gun is the safest and most effective way to thaw anything frozen in a barn, IMO.

Jan. 17, 2009, 10:31 AM
i've used those styrofoam covers on my outside( the house) faucet and they didn't work at all. I have to use a hose to fill my heated trough and the hose works fine if I drain it well, but it's the faucet that freezes. Actually, it's usually that little bit of pipe from the cellar to the actual faucet. Mr CB/TB filled the tub yesterday and he used a heat gun to thaw that bit and the faucet. I will usually boil some water and just keep pouring over the faucet until I get water. With these temps ( - 8 this morning) I planned on carrying water from the house if I couldn't get the tub filled, but now I'm good for a few days. I do add hot water to stall buckets for breakfast and supper.

Jan. 17, 2009, 12:03 PM
I have the same problem with my well freezing occasionally in the guts on top of the ground. I've never had a problem with my frost free hydrant freezing. If you have access to electricity, a heat gun (cheap and no open flame) works well.

Jan. 17, 2009, 12:21 PM
Cover with a hay stuffed bucket.

Jan. 17, 2009, 01:49 PM
I use one of those cans of compressed air (like what you use to clean/dust a computer keyboard) and spritz a few shots up inside the spigot as soon as I unhook the hose. It blows out the moisture to help keep it from freezing.

When it froze in the past, I did the hair dryer routine to thaw it out. Haven't had to thaw it since I started using the compressed air (knocking on wood since I haven't been out to run water yet today, and it was -5 last night).

Jan. 17, 2009, 03:49 PM
Ours just froze for the first time in years since we have not had 2 degree weather here in years!! Hubby went and got electric heat tape to wrap the pipe in. He said the new kind he found at the hardware store is WAY better than the old wrap around kind...this is a strip you get the right length (not a wrap around thing) that you then wrap with insulation. He said it worked like a charm in no time!
This am we started with the hairdryer (wasn't getting anywhere quickly), moved to a heat torch I had for paint stripping (better /still a lot of work) and hubby finally decided to go to the hardware stor for the heat tape (best!). He DID have to go to 3 hardware stores to get it though.....apparently everyone has frozen pipes and the first 2 were out!

Bank of Dad
Jan. 17, 2009, 03:52 PM
Well, we got it to work, hope it will last cause its been a PITA to use forever. Its a Campbell, the 3rd or 4th to be installed, with a hugh amount of big rocks and big gravel in the drain area. Often the black rubber at the bottom of the plunger gets messed up. I'll never use Campbell again. I left the heating pad on it on low for a few hours. I killed my hair dryer on it too. The brass rod must have been too cold to move, I don't know why. So the handle moved up, but didn't move the rod. When I came back from buying a new hair dryer, Mr. BOD tightened the two nuts a bit and then it seemed to work. I WD40'd it too. I was worried it was froze where the water drains at the black rubber thing, but its only been frigid two days. The other frost free that runs from the house has had a leak somewhere near a joint. Since I procrastinated getting it fixed, its froze solid now, so we fill the other tubs from the basement. All the hoses are in the basement now too.

Sparky Boy
Jan. 17, 2009, 07:42 PM
If it's frost free and still freezing, it's likely not draining properly, maybe dig it up in the spring?

I've seen people use heat tape. I've also seen a drop light (basically a caged light bulb) hung on the handle and a trash can put upside down over the whole thing. The latter probably wouldn't work if yours is already frozen though.

A Jillity Farm
Jan. 17, 2009, 07:44 PM
Wrap it in Heat tape

Jan. 17, 2009, 09:57 PM
Both of ours are on the outside of the barn. The pipe parts are wrapped with that sheet-style insulation, that we cut to size and held on with duct tape.

Mr. WTW got his hands on two pizza delivery warmer bags. They go over the spigots and then a 20 gallon muck tub goes over that.

So far so good. We do disconnect the hose after every use and drain it, that way it's not froze to the spigot.

That all being said, three years ago we had to dig up the one unit we use the most. The installers did a crappy job installing the original and it only lasted two years. We bought a new unit, Mr. WTW re-dug the hole, put some drainage gravel down in there like there should have been in the first place, and things have been holding up so far.

All that being said, we have only been a little below zero for a few days. What works in Middle Tennessee probably would be a joke in Minnesota:(

Jan. 17, 2009, 10:05 PM
Mine don't like working in this sub zero cold either.
I have electricity near both, and do as some of you do...put a light on it. I have one light that I would never leave unattended as it throws off a lot of heat.
Once the heat is on it, it works like its summertime.

I really don't think people understand that although a frost free hydrant, there is moisture that is in there and makes the handle very difficult to lift and when you live somewhere that is below zero temps for days, well, I guess you have to live here to understand some things, like vehicles as well, just don't like moving. Hmmm, sounds like how I feel, but I don't think the horses would understand.
Its 15 degrees right now, and feels like a heat wave