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Frost free faucet installation advice? (was: Best frost free faucet brand/type?)

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  • Frost free faucet installation advice? (was: Best frost free faucet brand/type?)

    This year's project (one of them...) is to put in at least one frost free faucet.

    I'm in middle Georgia, so it doesn't get THAT cold -- discounting this past winter-that-wasn't, and realizing we've only been here a few years, 18F is the coldest morning temperature I remember.

    Are there different types of frost free faucets? Is there a particular brand you recommend?

    I don't want to be digging it back up to fix it in 3-5 years, I want it to _work_.
    Last edited by wsmoak; Oct. 21, 2012, 08:13 PM.
    ... and Patrick

  • #2
    I'm not brand loyal on many things, but this is one of them.


    Get the Y series. Y34 is 3/4" and Y1 is 1". Y34 is good for up to 10gpm or so. Y1 is if you have 1-1/4" supply lines or bigger and a LOT of water flow.



    • Original Poster

      [A belated] thank you for the recommendation, including the exact model, because that catalog is overwhelming.

      I finally finished digging out around the faucet and it's about 12" down, so now I know which one to order. (*Everything* around here is over-engineered. I fully expected the water lines to be deeper than that!)

      Are these faucets okay with being left barely on? I have a hose going to the stock tank that I leave just cracked open (regular faucet) so that when the pony splashes half the water out, it takes a while to fill back up.
      ... and Patrick


      • Original Poster

        Ooookay, they're here. They are HEAVY.

        I've got PVC running everywhere, 12" down.

        There's no way that the PVC is going to survive someone pushing or pulling on the handle, not with only a foot of dirt holding the upright pipe in place.

        I'm planning to put a concrete block underneath the PVC pipe to support it, and fill the holes and all around with gravel, plus more gravel up to cover the drain hole.

        We're going to have to do something to stabilize the upright pipe. I don't *think* I want to concrete around it at ground level, do I?

        Another option would seem to be setting something like a T-post beside the line and strap the upright to that.

        Who has frost free faucets that have been installed and working for several years, and how are they installed? Pictures would be great!

        ... and Patrick


        • #5
          Do NOT put concrete around it. If you have dig it up, you will swear like no tomorrow. T-posts work ok.
          Go deeper than you think you need to.
          Put a good bed of gravel under it for the hydrant to drain back into. That is how they are "Frost free": they drain back down and empty themselves so there is no water in them so you need a drain bed for the water to go into.
          As such, if you leave them run, they will not be frost free. Same with leaving a hose attached. They have to be able to drain back down when off.

          I don't know the particular brand you mention but I have lived with frost free hydrants all my life and have had to help DH install, replace, etc enough of them to "speak" them well at this point. We have replaced everyone on our property that the "pros" installed. Funny how none of the ones DH has ever installed have ever failed?

          Another hint: Put a cut off valve upstream of the faucet too so you shut the water off at it if you do need to work on it. When you do, run a piece of PVC pipe UP to the surface so you can find the valve. You can then make a tool to put over the valve, via a long piece of rod, so you can turn it. I wish I could describe it but I can't but it is wicked simple to make. A piece of channel iron, a piece of steel rod and then a another piece to make a T handle at the top so you can turn it. The channel iron fits over the handle of the valve so you can turn it. Make sense?


          • #6
            Don't use a female threaded plastic adaptor anywhere in a water system EVER.

            At the bottom of the hydrant, use a brass or galvanized "street elbow", and a PVC male threaded adaptor into the metal elbow. Teflon tape on all threads, of course.

            Plenty of drainage below the hydrant, like an 8 inch cinder block on end. Put a post beside it that you will screw the riser to the hydrant to with electrical conduit straps. Secure the post well down deep, and there will be little worry about the post shaking enough to disturb anything.

            Use plastic fittings only at the bottom, or even a female threaded adaptor, and you are guaranteed to have the job at some point of digging it up and redoing it.

            We have some that have been in the ground for 32 years now, and are still working fine. You can replace any part on a Woodford from the top. I keep a spare complete one, so I have any part I might need.
            Last edited by Tom King; Oct. 23, 2012, 08:41 PM.


            • #7
              When we put in a hydrant, we get any one kind of plastic bottle and put the end of the hydrant in it, one hole on the top for the pipe, another on the side for the horizontal pipe to go out.
              This plastic bottle keeps the end from getting clogged up and helps it drain out of the pipe very fast, unlike when that is in gravel or worse, dirt.

              The concrete block idea is a good one, I have not seen that used.
              A plastic bottle is something anyone has around.

              We have several different brands, whatever the pump store has handy, but most are Woodford.

              We have some hydrants set in a concrete slab and we always leave a good 2' x 2' foot square in dirt around the hydrants, so if we have to dig them out, at least we can use a post hole digger to get to the bottom, without having to break the concrete out.
              Working with plastic pipe sure has made working in holes easier, easier than trying to thread an old pipe way down there.


              • Original Poster

                Digging has commenced!

                I admit I did consider using the existing PVC upright with a female connector to the new hydrant, but it (like many things around here) is not straight. My faucet would be sticking out of the ground at a crazy angle.

                We'll have to cut out the existing T that goes up, replace a section of pipe with a horizontal T and the recommended brass elbow.

                A plastic shield around the drain hole sounds like a good idea too. It would have to be something sturdy like a bleach bottle I assume. A soda bottle would get crushed.

                I'm planning to lay landscape fabric over the gravel to keep the dirt from filtering down into the gravel.

                Anything else I should consider?

                ... and Patrick


                • #9
                  I have one such hydrant we pulled from another place, after being in the ground for a good many years and will be resetting in another place.
                  It still has the plastic bottle on the bottom, an old anti-freeze bottle, that we rinsed well and used down there and is still fine for the next many years.

                  I will take a picture tomorrow morning and post it here.


                  • #10
                    Here is a picture showing one frost free hydrant placed in that concrete 9 years ago, leaving a big enough hole in the concrete pad, in case we have to pull it out some day.
                    Also, showing the one hydrant we took off another place and will be setting in shortly, with the plastic container at the bottom, to keep the weep hole clear, that keeps those hydrants from freezing:



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by wsmoak View Post
                      Are these faucets okay with being left barely on?
                      If you leave it running you are negating the whole frost free theory of this hydrant.

                      It works by draining all the piping that is above the frost line, if you leave it running you will have water above the frost line.

                      Also, do not leave a hose attached to it when you shut it off.

                      I agree, Woodford's website is miserable. I have mentioned it to them (since I use it for work) and it seems to fall on deaf ears.


                      • #12
                        I've seen some screw a vacuum breaker on the hydrant outlet, though I've never done it myself. While it's not a substitute for removing the hose, it should provide a backup for those that tend to be forgetful.
                        The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                        Winston Churchill


                        • #13
                          If you do get a frozen frost hydrant, you can try to thaw
                          it out. Turn off the water to the hydrant (or turn off
                          your well pump for the duration). Take the top off the
                          frost hydrant. Fill the pipe with Keto-Aid (a cow product)
                          or other source of propylene glycol. Wait for the chemical
                          to thaw out the ice. Turn the water back on. If the pipe
                          is not cracked, you are now back in business.
                          Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                          Elmwood, Wisconsin


                          • #14
                            If you use a hose, always immediately unscrew the hose as you are turning off the hydrant. This allows the water to drain back down and air get sucked down. This is key. We do this all the time and even in some bitterly cold conditions and we never have a freeze.

                            Make sure the bottom is several feet below the frost line. In our area in Alberta, that means we had to go down 10 feet.

                            As an additional measure, we wrapped our hydrant in heat tape and protected the tape with heat resistant insulation held in place with tape. Despite having some extremely bitter cold temperatures, we have never had a frozen hydrant. The only thing that froze once was the handle, but a little bit of "lock de-icer" did the trick and since then a regular spraying of WD-40 which flushes and pushes moisture out of the moving parts.
                            Practice! Patience! Persistence!


                            • Original Poster

                              Success! Our new frost free faucet:


                              It still needs more dirt (up to the orange tape) and I think we'll re-do the brace post at some point, but it's done for this winter.

                              A concrete block underneath and a brass elbow:

                              Then lots of gravel and a gatorade bottle to shield the drain hole:

                              Thanks again Tom for the recommendation and everyone for their advice!
                              ... and Patrick


                              • #16
                                That should work fine.

                                For future reference, I do it a bit differently. I put the cinder block vertically under the hydrant to use the hollows for extra space for the water to have extra available volume. On one side of the block, I block the holes in the block so the concrete I set the 4x4 post in beside it doesn't run into the blocks. The concrete is mixed stiff to help with the non-running part. The concrete is packed down around the post.

                                The hydrant is then hooked up, and fastened to the post with metal conduit straps and screws. The top of the post is below the top part of the hydrant, and capped with a short piece of synthetic decking screwed onto the post top to protect the end grain, and have somewhere to lay something if needed.

                                The hole is then filled to the top with rocks large enough not to fill in the block, and easier to take out of the hole by hand, when the time comes, than digging the thing up with a shovel. A thin layer of mortar is spread over the top of the rocks that protects the hole from loose dirt getting in, but can easily be broken up with a hammer when needed.

                                I should have posted this earlier, but I don't usually think about all the details unless I'm in the middle of building something.

                                edited to add: Make sure not to install the hydrant so that the head is so close to something like a wall that doesn't allow you to screw the head off the top.
                                Last edited by Tom King; Feb. 16, 2013, 07:27 PM.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thanks for the additional details! I have another of these to put in near the barn, and I'll keep this in mind.

                                  I really appreciate all the time you spend volunteering your expertise on these threads.
                                  ... and Patrick


                                  • #18
                                    See my current thread to see why pouring concrete around a hydrant is NOT a good idea- or at least not 6" of footer strength stuff with monster reinforcement wire embedded!