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f4leggin
Dec. 11, 2009, 08:30 AM
In a few posts, a few people have mentioned they have done this and it's not easy... Well, of my three, one (luckily it's in the middle, the others still work, so I know it's not a complete water line failure) is frozen. No hoses attached to it, it just froze in the ridiculously cold weather we had in Colorado this week. Yesterday we got into the high 20's - it's still not working. Today and this weekend we are working our way to the 40's - so I'm hoping I can somehow thraw it out - or else that pasture is toast for the winter. There is no way I want risk digging it up (if we can even get through the dirt) in the winter - don't want to screw up the other two. I used a torch on it for a little while yesterday, but that didn't help.

So how have you guys done it?

Jill

MHM
Dec. 11, 2009, 08:31 AM
Hair drier, for a long time.

AKB
Dec. 11, 2009, 08:42 AM
heat tape. I only leave the heat tape plugged in while I am around and checking it frequently. I worry about it catching fire.

I just got a heated hose. It is so nice to plug it in and not have a frozen hose. No more blowing through the hose to make sure every last bit of water is out of it! So exciting!

winfieldfarm
Dec. 11, 2009, 08:46 AM
If you have frost free hydrants, the kind that are supposed to drain the spigot water below frost level when they are turned off, they might be broken.

You have to disconnect your hose from the hydrant every time for it to drain proper.

To unfreeze, make a makeshift plywood backer and top, like a cheap nativity scene hut! ;) Get a torpedo heater and blast it towards the hut. Unfrozen in record time.

Bluey
Dec. 11, 2009, 08:49 AM
Yes, if you have electricity close, try a hair drier.
Hydrants have a rubber bullet at the bottom end, to close them up and if you use a cutting torch to defrost them, that melts.
Don't ask how I know.:rolleyes:

Vibration is good to defrost metal pipes, try tapping it with a hammer.
When we had all metal pipes, we used to attach the welder to both ends and the vibration would break the ice in the pipes.

If you can't get that defrosted, how about asking a local plumber to look at your set up?
If he fixes it, you then can keep using that pasture.:)

f4leggin
Dec. 11, 2009, 08:56 AM
Thanks for the ideas - of course, I don't have electricity near by - but I do have a generator - now I just have to think of what type of heater to use - a hair dryer - now I know why you guys said it was a pain in the rear... Did anyone try pouring boiling hot water on it? I think I may have broken the valve when I forced it open the other day... As my wonderful husband pointed out - that was stupid - shouldn't have forced it. Duh...

Jill

Tom King
Dec. 11, 2009, 08:58 AM
I'd use a propane torch but not down near the lower part of the stack much or up where the packing is for the lift rod. Just run the flame up and down the pipe so the heat with transfer down and up. Keep trying to lift the handle as you are heating it but don't use more force than you normally would. As soon as the critical part melts it should work normally. It may not have enough drainage rock under it so the water has somewhere to go as it drains out.

The one potential problem will be that if you do defrost it and it's split upstream of the cutoff washer. Then you will have a plumbing repair but it probably has to be done.

Hopefully some just froze to lock the lifting rod as it was draining and it will be a simple fix.

MHM
Dec. 11, 2009, 09:56 AM
I just got a heated hose. It is so nice to plug it in and not have a frozen hose. No more blowing through the hose to make sure every last bit of water is out of it! So exciting!

Where did you get your heated hose? Was it the one on a thread posted here?

I've been thinking about that hose this week!

trubandloki
Dec. 11, 2009, 10:34 AM
Please do not pour boiling water over it. You are just asking for additional issues. The water gets places and freezes again.

Use something to heat it.

And like was said above. For it to work properly you have to remove the hose from it when you are done. If you have one of those shut off type adapters that give you multiple hose connections that has to be open also. It needs to be able to drain the water back down to below the frost line. It can not do that properly if it can not get air in/out.

Leather
Dec. 11, 2009, 11:14 AM
Here's a fix that was posted on a local group. A friend of mine used it and it worked.



Yes, there is a magic fix for frozen hydrants! No plumbers,
excavators, welding torches, fire rings, or heat tape needed. Many,
many thanks to XXX for telling me about propylene glycol, a food
grade antifreeze, available at Fleet Farm as Keto-Aid, a treatment for
ketosis in cattle, $17.00/gallon.

You attach a short hose(3-4 feet) to
the hydrant, attach a funnel to the hose, and start pouring the Keto-
Aid into the funnel, holding it up as high as you can--or standing on a
mounting block. (The first hose I tried didn't work, possibly because
of a small filter at one end. Keto-Aid is just a little viscous.) I
stood there, feeding the stuff into the funnel, when I wondered whether
it would work better with the hydrant handle up. So I pulled the
handle up, and whoosh: water! Yeah, I got wet but it was worth it. I
think my hydrant must have had a little ice 'way down at the bottom,
since the handle never stopped working, so it might take longer if the
whole pipe is frozen. Truly magic; tell everyone you know!

Fairview Horse Center
Dec. 11, 2009, 11:43 AM
I just put a heat light bulb in a clamp light, and attach it to the hydrant, aiming it at the handle base. Within a few hours, I have water.

Guilherme
Dec. 11, 2009, 11:59 AM
One way to speed up the hair dryer process (or any other "hot air" method) is to put a heavy duty plastic contractor bag over the hydrant. Weight the edges with rocks or bricks, making a "balloon" over the hydrant that you'll now inflate with hot air. Keep the dryer away from the plastic. ;)

This can also work with all kinds of frozen pipes.

G.

fourmares
Dec. 12, 2009, 12:06 AM
Plastic garbage can upside down over the bucket might be better than a plastic bag. Just the garbage can and a sunny day might be enough, but add a heat sourse and you might have a real winner.

f4leggin
Dec. 14, 2009, 03:11 PM
Thank you all for your great ideas. After trying to defrost the hydrant for the past 4 days, I had decided that I must have broke the plunger when I forced it open last week. This morning I started work to join the pasture with the broken hydrant to another pasture I have with a working hydrant - I figured I'd tackle the broken one in the spring. It was only about 1.5 hours of moving panels, cutting wire fencing etc... I reached a point in my work that I needed a shovel, so I headed back to the barn. As I drove past the frozen hydrant, I thought what the heck - I'll give it one more try. You can imagine what happened next...

The stupid thing worked! The good news is my hydrant is no longer frozen. And, it seems to be working fine (turns on and off). The bad news was the time I spent modifying fencing, and the fact that I had even gone so far as to cut a hole in the wire fencing of the other pasture. I secured the pastures with panels, and if the hydrant freezes again, at least I'll be half way to joining them.

Patience....

Jill

trubandloki
Dec. 14, 2009, 04:04 PM
That Murphy's Law thing was helping you along I see. You do know that if you had not cut the wire and such the hydrant would not have started working?

Glad it is working now.

FatPalomino
Dec. 14, 2009, 05:20 PM
Here's a question: isn't the only reason a frost free hydrant would freeze is a leak somewhere? (If it was properly installed below the frost line, etc)?

We had one that we thought was leaking, and would freeze sometimes.. We dug down and found the 90 degree pvc elbow about to snap. We replaced it with a metal elbow and a new hydrant (they sell them at Home Depot!). We think, judging by the water bills, we were losing a lot of water through that leak.

We finally installed an auto waterer- the best money I've ever spent esp. in this cold snap! Ours keeps the water pretty darn warm- which is wonderful for the horses. OP- The fellow who dug the trench for us was very experienced with installing there and very reasonable- based out of Ft Lupton and goes about anywhere for work- let me know if you ever want his number :)

Tom King
Dec. 14, 2009, 05:29 PM
If it is really cold, sometimes water will freeze somewhere in the stack before it can all drain. It only takes a few drops somewhere like around the packing nut to freeze it up. This is the reason it's best to make sure there is no leak around the packing nut before cold weather gets here.

Never use a plastic elbow attached to the hydrant. Always use a "street" elbow and a male threaded adaptor into the el. Absolutely never use a plastic female threaded adaptor anywhere in the water system-always plastic male threads into metal female threads. Both are responsible for the majority of waterline repairs.

Cloverbarley
Dec. 14, 2009, 06:09 PM
We have a few hydrants on our farm and last winter one of ours froze and was out of action for most of the winter. I figured that although the water lines were 8ft down and the hydrant is only an 8ft hydrant pole, so 4ft sticks out the ground and the water line comes up to 4ft below ground at that point, so the freeze line must have reached 4ft down. Anyhow, before the beginning of this winter, I decided to take the excavator down there and piled about another foot of earth on top of where the hydrant comes out of the ground, so now there is only 3ft sticking above ground. So far it seems to be working absolutely fine. I don't need this hydrant for anything important but I have been checking it every day and it has worked each and every time. Maybe that is your problem?

f4leggin
Dec. 14, 2009, 07:16 PM
I think the hydrant actually sticks too far out of the ground. We installed it ourselves (when we did all the hydrants) 3 winters ago. Last week - we had a horrible freeze that went on for days - as did most of the nation - although this hydrant made it thru the last 3 winters - and it typically does get ridoculously cold at least one week a year in Colorado - the stars must have aligned to cause it freeze this time. In the meantime - I have seen insulation that you can put on them, and little hoods - I will probably use that until we can dig it up next spring. I don't want to jepordize my water lines this winter by fussing with it now. I have wondered about a leak or something else being broke at the base of it - I have a hydrant further down the line that is working fine - until I see evidence of a leak ( I can imagine a huge sink hole) - I'm going to pretend that all is well.

Jill

Cloverbarley
Dec. 14, 2009, 07:40 PM
Ah yes that is the same as with mine. I have auto waterers both before and after the hydrant on that water line and neither of them froze, just the hydrant. Sounds like your problem is the same as mine. We also had that crazy freeze last week, that's how I know mine should be okay this winter. Good luck!

Nancy!
Dec. 15, 2009, 03:42 PM
We use the same method as Tom King (the expert) :). We pull the handle open and run the propane torch up and down, until steam starts to come out and then shortly afterwards WATER!!!

Love my 4 automatic waterers except for yesterday when the well house froze and the kids were smashing their waterer. Why is it always the field that has 14 horses in it rather than the 3 broodmares or the two studs?

Nancy!

f4leggin
Dec. 15, 2009, 03:49 PM
These automatic waters that work in freezing tempatures - do you have to have electricity for them to work? I don't have electricity at my pastures and use propane stock tank heaters (which I love when they work).

Jill

Fairview Horse Center
Dec. 15, 2009, 05:30 PM
We use the same method as Tom King (the expert) :). We pull the handle open and run the propane torch up and down

All of my hydrants are in the barn next to wood, and that is why I use the clamp light - heat lamp method, It is easy as you can clamp it on, and go clean stalls for an hours or so, and presto, water! It has always seemed like it froze at the top, as I have only needed to just heat up the single spot - almost like the grease in the handle froze ;)

Cloverbarley
Dec. 15, 2009, 11:31 PM
These automatic waters that work in freezing tempatures - do you have to have electricity for them to work? I don't have electricity at my pastures and use propane stock tank heaters (which I love when they work).

Jill
Yes you do need electricity to them I'm afraid. When we run our water lines out to any new fields, we run electric lines alongside them. If connecting to the auto heated drinkers then the electricity line is wired directly to the drinkers inside the casements, however if we are installing hydrants then we bring the electric line up alongside the hydrants and wire them directly to external sockets which are installed onto the wooden posts giving the hydrants stability. The auto drinkers are wonderful and I couldn't run my farm without them but they are not an inexpensive measure unfortunately even if, like us, you own all the excavating machinery and have "free" labour.

chicamuxen1
Dec. 16, 2009, 07:53 AM
I have personal experience with frozen frost-free hydrants. two things will cause them to free.

1. Leaving a horse attached to the hydrant will often keep them from draining back. The hydrants when turned off need to drain all the water left in the upright pipe out the bottom (underground). A hose left attached, even just 3-4 feet of hose will keep enough suction on the line that the water in the pip won't drain back. if you disconnect the hose of just unscreww it a little bit you will hear gurgling of air as the water in the pipe drains away.

2. Silt/mud accumulation underground around the base of the upright pipe will stop the water from draining away. when the hydrants are installed the directions have you dig a pit that will be below the buried elbow, under the pipes drain, which is filled with gravel. More gravel is filled in around the elbow. all this gravel allows the water from the pipe to drain away when the hydrant is "closed". Hence, the water in the upright pipe drains out the bottom and away. But over time silt and mud will accumulate in the gravel and the draining away of water becomes impossible.

3. a bucket of hot tap water poured slowly over a frozen hydrant workes well, not boiling! I did this every winter for two years before I finally broke the hydrant and broke down and dug it up to replace it. it always worked but never force the handle up. If it doesn't move easily go get another bucket of hot water.

The hydrant needs to be dug up. It indeed may be broken, I did this when trying to force a hydrant open instead of going and getting a bucket of hot water. I was suuprised at how easy this was to do. buy a new hydrant first! Have a quantity of clean gravel ready. Dig a really big hole around the hydrant going all the way down and under the hydrant. You will need the room to work and room for clean gravel. Shut off the water to this line. Remove the old hydrant. Install the new one. I did the whole thing myself as my husband with a spasamming back stood there and fussed at me. Silly man! He ignored it for two years also as he kept going on about how hard of a job it was going to be, NOT! It went quite well. And it was winter weather too.

chicamuxen

Bluey
Dec. 16, 2009, 08:16 AM
---"1. Leaving a horse attached to the hydrant will often keep them from draining back. The hydrants when turned off need to drain all the water left in the upright pipe out the bottom (underground). A hose left attached, even just 3-4 feet of hose will keep enough suction on the line that the water in the pip won't drain back. if you disconnect the hose of just unscreww it a little bit you will hear gurgling of air as the water in the pipe drains away."---

Leaving a HORSE attached to a hydrant may defrost it in a hurry, when the horse pulls back and takes it with it.
You may have a geiser left and running water again.:lol:

Ozone
Dec. 16, 2009, 01:17 PM
Our well is really deep so the water never freezes but the hydrant sure does. It doesn't matter if it is a frost free - been there have that. I once, a long time ago forced it open and then as you can imgine dead of winter and the water decides it is not turning off now!


Hot water on freezes it fasters, covering it does not work either, I would be afraid to torch it since my experience above !!!


I am thankful to have other water sources in the barn ;) because when that other baby freezes I will not mess with it :) Learning experience.