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How to repair frost free water hydrant???

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  • How to repair frost free water hydrant???

    One of my horses had a collision with our frost free water hydrant at the barn. It is not leaking while running freely. However, if I turn off the nozzle at the end of the hose, the pressure causes a leak at the top of the hydrant, between the nozzle and the uplifted handle - where the bolt apparatus is.

    Does anyone know how to repair the hydrant? Or should we bite the bullet and replace it? I don't mind it leaking in the summer, but if it continues to leak like this in the winter, it will freeze at night and I won't be able to lift the handle.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  • #2
    Just sounds like the packing nut for the lift rod needs to be tightened. Other than that, I'm not getting a clear picture by the description of where the leak is.

    Find the brand of hydrant you have and do a Google search for something like: "Woodford frost free hydrant repair". substitute your hydrant brand for the "woodford".


    • Original Poster

      Thanks, Tom. I know my description of the leak is pretty poor.

      When you refer to the packing nut, is that the smaller nut on the assembly between the handle and the spigot? There is a larger bolt or nut and then a smaller one on top. Again, I apologize for my less than superior descriptions. Is it obvious that I am an Accountant????

      Also, I will see if I can determine the manufacturer of the hydrant and do a google search, as you suggested.


      • #4
        Yes. the packing nut is the smaller nut. The larger nut is the whole assembly. The nut squeezes the "packing" around the shaft sealing the water in. Turning it clockwise (looking down on it) should tighten the packing more around the shaft and fix the leak. You may also need to replace the packing.... Turn the nut counterclockwise to remove the nut. Then pick out the old packing, wrap new packing around the shaft. It looks like rope and use the nut to squeeze the packing down & around the shaft again.
        Equus makus brokus but happy


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for the helpful information. I'll let you know if we are successful.


          • #6
            TOm, please help us as well! We also have a leaking hydrant, we JUST replaced this hydrant a few months ago, when the handle is up water is leaking, pretty badly from around the shaft that moves up and down. I assume there is some sort of washer assembly, can we remove and replace,, as we do NOT wnt to have to dig the whole durn thing up and replace it again!!


            • #7
              That's the packing nut also. It's a brass nut that keeps pressure on the "packing" around the plunger shaft that is pulled up to unseat the washer at the bottom to allow water to flow and is pushed down to cut the water off.

              Underneath the packing nut, the packing is simply wrapped around the shaft and held with enough pressure by the packing nut to counteract the water pressure. It will always wear out after a while and need replacing.

              The packing nut is soft brass so it's ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to only use the proper sized wrench to loosen and tighten it. A pair of pliers or even an adjustable wrench has a very good chance of deforming the nut to the point that it will never seal again.

              Go to a hardware store or Lowes or Home Depot and look in the plumbing department. You can find some packages of teflon packing. Usually two sizes-like white string. Either will work, you just have to wrap more of the smaller size around the shaft.

              The stuff that's in there is either a rubber washer, or Jute-a natural fiber much like the non-synthetic baling twine that you all have seen depending on the manufacturer of the hydrant. If it's a black washer, just put the new packing on top of it. If it's jute, get it out if you can with a bent paper clip, but DO NOT scratch the shaft.

              Wrap the new packing around the shaft and screw the nut back down on top of the packing. Not too much that you have to force the nut down to start with, but the more the better that allows you to easily start the nut. It doesn't matter if you piece it. Don't put much pressure on it to start with.

              Open the hydrant to let the water flow and if it's leaking out of the packing nut, tighten it until it stops and then a little bit more-like a 1/4 turn.

              Before the packing needs to be replaced you can always try simply tightening the nut- only with a properly sized wrench. That will usually work for a few times and then the packing needs to be replaced.

              It is easily possible to tighten the nut too much so that it's hard to raise and lower the handle. This is not a situation that is good for the longevity of the moving parts. If it gets hard to operate, add more packing.

              Having said all that, most of the ones on our farm are currently resealed with natural baling twine. A designated wrench is in a drawer of designated tools in the tack room. I have bought the silicone packing several times, but I think only one of ours is sealed with it. If we have some natural fiber baling twine here, I don't make a trip to the hardware store if I don't need to.

              The packing nut is #14 in this diagram:


              • Original Poster

                Tom and Hosspuller - You're the best!! Thanks so much for the helpful information. Without your help, we would have likely dug up the old hydrant and replaced it with a new one. No fun, for sure.


                • #9
                  Happiness abounds! All hail King Tom!
                  Just had to plug the above post as super duper helpful in the bitter cold that was threatening to kill my leaking frost-free.


                  • Original Poster

                    We finally repaired our hydrant last month. This information has been invaluable.


                    • #11
                      Ditto, thanks Tom for info. Saved a bunch of moolah by fixing rather than calling plumber or replacing.
                      You're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!


                      • #12
                        I called a plumber once for a leaking water faucet by an in-line water filter in the basement. Fortunately, he was a nice guy. When he first looked at it, he said, "Aw gee. I'm already here so I have to turn in $75 to the company for the call, but let me show you how to fix this yourself in case it ever happens again." Yup, loose packing nut!
                        Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
                        Now apparently completely invisible!