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questions on running water, electric, what else? to the barn from house

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  • questions on running water, electric, what else? to the barn from house

    I know this has been covered before, but I can't find the threads. A unique opportunity has arisen where I can run services from my house to the barn. The opportunity won't last long, and I want to either run the them or at least put in some pipes so that I can run whatever I want in the future. A natural obstacle is being removed temorarirly. I want to run water. I would like to run electricity, or at least have a conduit to run electric through in the future if I want. Anything else? Phone cables are a thing of the past. Perhaps internet cables are, too. The distance is between 250 and 300 feet, closer to 250.

    I know about running at least six inches below frost line. I know to put a cable or something so that I can pull future cables or wires through. But, that's about all I know.

    What is the best kind of conduit to use? Various things need to be in different conduit? Since all of the ground is wet, I doubt that it matters if electric is close to water. What about running a line for potential gas service between the house and the barn if we decided to use natural gas. We have been thinking of getting natural gas into our house. Right now, I am very interested in preserving the options, more than installing everything.

    Thanks for any information or links to old threads.

  • #2
    Tom King or clanter can probably tell you what type of conduit, metal or plastic to use, but I'm going to suggest you might want to do 2 water lines, one for cold water and one for hot.

    I don't know the distance you're talking but once the ditch is dug and you have a large enough pipe or conduit to run electricity and water you will thank yourself for doing hot as well as cold. A friend did that and her barn was about 200+ ft from the house.

    I sure wish I had done the hot water line as well. Presuming you're on well water and it's hard well water, a hot water tank will die in 10 yrs or less. At least that's what happens here in western NY. Hot water in the barn is a nice luxury too.

    Something else to consider is a landline telephone line. Considering the advent of cell phones you might not need it but that depends on how great a reception you get with your cell phone.

    Good luck.

    I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


    • #3
      When we ran a water line off our main line out back to the barn the contractor used a flexible blue pipe/tube. He said it was a newer product and would not crack like PCV can underground. That was 4 years ago and it has been fine.

      I'll have to ask Mr. SLW what he used to run the power out of the house out to the barn.


      • #4
        I'm not trying to be flip, but asking honestly, wouldn't the utility companies tell you what is best to run?

        We need to get electric and water out to a field (the electric happens to be much closer due to the power pole) and I'm also thinking about running electric to the detached garage, and I was just planning on asking rural electric what they recommended and talking to the local pump guy about the water, as I know he installed a client's auto-water trough. Is this a bad idea? I have rural water though (our well is capped--nasty water--only 37 feet deep!). Water will need to come from the house.

        You are making me second guess myself. I guess if there is a cheap, but short-term way I want to avoid that...
        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


        • #5
          We ran water and electric 4 feet underground to the barn. Place conduit then electric. Internet etc can go into conduit and be "pulled" through (so easier to add more later as long as all lines are shielded to prevent interference). I would just get a water heater for the barn - not run hot water to barn (it will cool off as it goes - and also depends how far away from the house your barn sits).

          You want it in a fairly straight line where it will probably NOT be inadvertantly "dug up" - something like down middle of the driveway, point to point, etc... Obviously it must be well marked even if markers disappear 10 years or so down the line - hence the "well known" starting point to "well known" ending point (straight line).
          Now in Kentucky


          • #6
            Phone lines are not a thing of the past

            We have them running to our house and from our house to our barn. We actually use the barn phone.

            We use the house phone too. It's cool, it hangs right on the wall in the kitchen with a really long cord!


            • #7
              Originally posted by 2ndyrgal View Post
              We have them running to our house and from our house to our barn. We actually use the barn phone.

              We use the house phone too. It's cool, it hangs right on the wall in the kitchen with a really long cord!
              I'm with you on this for sure. Have a landline in the barn and 4 in the house. Mind you, I do have a cell phone but it's basically for 911 emergencies rather than daily use. I hate to be that attached to the rest of the world that I need to give out my cell phone #. Call me on the landline and leave a message.

              I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


              • #8
                Make sure that when you run electric off your house that you have the AMP to cover the extra? In my part of the Midwest many houses have 100 amp service and if your appliances or heating is electric you are probably at your max. I don't know the needs of your barn electric wise, but if you are using a heater for waterers or adding an automatic heated waterer it adds up quick.

                My plumber used the blue pipe here in 2010 when he ran the lines to our hydrants.

                I would run a phone line too. We don't have cell phones. A future buyer someday might find that nice.


                • #9
                  When we ran new water out to the barn we also put in water hydrants in each pasture. That was much nicer then dragging hoses around! Just a suggestion if you are able to do it. It helped out so much in the winter.
                  Derby Lyn Farms Website

                  Derby Lyn Farms on Facebook!


                  • #10
                    Any time you run a trench from the house to the barn, put in a length of black polyethylene pipe to pull something you forgot, or something that hasn't been invented yet, later. Use the black poly pipe if you can find a large enough roll that you can run it without splicing it. 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" is a good size.

                    If the run is too far for one piece of black poly, buy some gray plastic PVC conduit. It's really cheap, but you can only pull stuff through it easily in one direction. Make a note of which direction that is when you install it. Glue the joints together.

                    I run this from under the house into the barn where the electric panel is. You may need an elbow. If you do need to turn it up, use the large radius, easy pull elbows.

                    Take a shop vac, or maybe home vacuum, and pull a nylon mason's line through the conduit. Tie a little tuft of cloth, or tape a pingpong ball to the end so the vac can suck it through.

                    Any time you pull a new wire through it, pull another mason's line along with it. It's not as easy to suck a line through the conduit with something else in it.

                    I've been doing this for house's I've built for about 35 years, from the road to the house. Every once in a while I have someone calling me to thank me for doing it. They had to have a new TV cable, or phone line put in, and didn't have to dig up their yard.

                    If there aren't sharp rocks in the ground, I just put UF wire right in the trench.

                    Since you will have the trench open, install a 3 conductor wire w/ground to have a 3 way switched circuit for the barn lights.

                    Also think about the possibility of path lights to the barn. I like 110v lights for this, and ours have been trouble free for 32 years now. The low voltage ones have shorter lives typically.

                    Also, if you are going to have cctv cameras in the barn, another 3 way lighting circuit is a handy thing to have. If you use 25 watt blue bulbs, it works a lot better for the cameras than infrared, and you don't have to leave the main lights on all night. This is especially nice if you are foaling, and you can turn the lights on and off from your bedroom.

                    Take pictures of location of the trench with the barn and house in the pictures. Save these somewhere other than just in your computer. It might be 30 years if you ever need them.


                    • #11
                      Our regular cordless home phones, there are four to a set, are fine three in the house and one in the barn, 140' away, without any extra lines.

                      If you are not too far from the house and don't need a separate number for the barn, you may just not need a phone line in the barn at all.


                      • #12
                        Everything comes down to how much time and money you want to throw at something.
                        Code certainly serves its purpose not only for safety but IMO more so to protect people from shoddy and unsafe work by contractors. But a lot of times I have found building, installing to “code” can be and is over kill. Caters more to the trades then to the home owner. In other words adds costs. I have done my fair share of complete old house renovations, remodels to know what is possible under code and what becomes very expensive and unnecessary to bring up to code. I have also build a few what is know as “unconventional” structures. Code is a guideline it is not written in stone all I had to do was prove to the Building department what I was building would do the job as specified in keeping with the “spirit” of local code. I am now located in a rural area of SE PA and don’t have to deal with the code police. But I also know what I am doing.
                        That being said.
                        What I use and what most farms use, at least around here, for water lines is called “black poly pipe” or potable, 160 psi polyethylene. It sounds like ¾ to 1 inches should do the job. About $40 per 100 feet, less in longer rolls. Most good plumbing supply will cut to length. Code around here, SE PA is 36” I ran 1,500 feet but due to some problems with the trencher a lot of it was barely 30”. Has yet to freeze up. If you are doing the trenching go with a 36” Ditch Witch that is mounted on “treads” not wheel driven. Back filling and tamping is a PIA. As others have said don’t bother with a hot water line at 250+ feet you will be pumping many gallons of water through the pipe before you begin to get hot water at the other end and leaving many gallons of expensive hot water in the pipe when you shut off. Assuming you have a part of the barn that can be winterized to place the utilities, a small room that is well insulated, foam insulation is always my first choice just install a hot water heater. Electric “point of use” that only heats the water that is being drawn through it works great and requires a lot less power, depending on size around $150+. I also like “tankless” propane water heaters, work basically the same as electric point of use. They can also be used with natural gas. I assume you have natural gas piped into your property by a utility company? If people use propane in your area most propane dealers will install the line for free when you rent of buy the tank from them. I should think a lot cheaper then buying and installing 250’ from your house line.
                        The size of the electric line is dictated by the power/amperage needed. There are a lot of “how to” books to be had for the DIY or an internet search will explain how to do the simple math to determine you power needs. Electric hot water heaters draw a lot of power, with a 250+ ft run and other electrical needs I am guessing 8 gauge. Without the electric water heater and just having standard to minimum power needs in the barn 10 gauge will do the job. It is not necessary to run it through conduit. Use “direct burial cable” that you just lay in the trench with the water line. This is code approved, at least in the places I have had to deal with code. Phone and data lines can be tossed in also. Use 5-6-8 “twisted wire” it cancels out interference. Relatively cheap in bulk. Phone lines only require 2 wires so you have spares for other things. Underground RG-6 cable with a ground can be handy to run from a house modem, cable TV or satellite interface. Also relatively cheap in bulk. If you have fios drop that in also or in case of an up grade in your area. All of this can be had at a Home Depot. The electric will be connect to a 30-50+ amp breaker at the circuit breaker panel in your house with a “sub panel” at the barn the size of which depending on your power needs. Unless your house is old and has not been upgraded most electric panels in the last 20+ years are 200 amps. If not sure just look at the main breaker “off and on” switch on the panel, it will be the big toggle switch at the top of the panel and will have a number stamped on it. This is not as complicated as it sounds and is an easy DIY.
                        As others have said new cordless phones can go 250+ feet but when you loose power you loose phone but not with a hard wired one. Cell phones always seem to work. The wire is cheap so why not toss it in along with the kitchen sink. Quality wireless barn cams are inexpensive these days so no need for video cable though the RG-6 cable does the job. Considering data line/cable is not that expensive I always through in redundant lines any way. So is the black ploy pipe. Note; when back filling if you have a lot of rock or some rocks cover everything with several inches of clean dirt first than toss the rocks on top. The shaper edges of rocks big or small can cut into things after a couple of years of settling and compacting.
                        Addendum; I see Mr. King has posted while I wrote this all of which I agree though it has been my experience there is no need for conduit. But to each their own.


                        • #13
                          Weran water from house to a hydrant and auto waterer. Make sure you run a decent size pupe for the water. My plumber did not and using a hose on the hydrant is fruitless. There is no power to it.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
                            I'm not trying to be flip, but asking honestly, wouldn't the utility companies tell you what is best to run?

                            We need to get electric and water out to a field (the electric happens to be much closer due to the power pole) and I'm also thinking about running electric to the detached garage, and I was just planning on asking rural electric what they recommended and talking to the local pump guy about the water, as I know he installed a client's auto-water trough. Is this a bad idea? I have rural water though (our well is capped--nasty water--only 37 feet deep!). Water will need to come from the house.

                            You are making me second guess myself. I guess if there is a cheap, but short-term way I want to avoid that...
                            I think if you read this thread, you will see why I asked the question here. There are extremely knowledgeable people here who answer such questions in very thorough and helpful ways. I have more confidence in the answers I read or receive here than from other sources. That's why I ask here - because I value the information that is shared here.


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks for all the great information. i'm going to read through it more thoroughly tonight and may have followup comments or questions. Thank you!


                              • #16
                                Depending on how much electricity you want out there, pulling heavy wire 250' after the fact can be a challenge. You might be better off just putting some direct burial cable in and leaving a coil on the ground at both ends.


                                • #17
                                  Do not make the conduct runs a home run, have pull boxes every 100 to 150 feet.... 100 feet is the best as the force required to pull a very long cable can break the cable. Also have shut off valves for the water in-line just in case.

                                  Also.... separate water and power conducts if in the same trench by 12 to 18 inches (check local codes) put a warning tape in the trench above the electrical and if possible a layer of different color back fill above the electrical conduct (such as red sand if loam) to give warning to future excavators that an electrical conduct is present ie: warning tape, 6 inches red sand then the conduct

                                  Might want to install a separate empty conduct for communication/video or just as an insurance policy


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by FreshAir View Post
                                    Weran water from house to a hydrant and auto waterer. Make sure you run a decent size pupe for the water. My plumber did not and using a hose on the hydrant is fruitless. There is no power to it.
                                    Actually the smaller the pipe the higher the pressure but lower GPM or flow. If you are on a well your pump might be undersized for what it is being asked to do. If that is not the case then check the pressure switch setting at the expansion tank. This is located where the supply line comes into house/barn from the well. A pressure switch turns the well pump on when the water pressure drops below what the switch is set for and then cuts off the pump when the water pressure reaches the high point for what the switch is set for. There should be an inline pressure gauge there also so see what that is reading.This will tell you what the switch is set at. Turn on water some where and let it run and watch the gauge go down at some point you will hear a click or hear the pump kick on the number the gauge reads at is the low pressure point. Maybe yours is too small for the added demand. It can be swapped out for a higher pressure switch. Very easy to do.
                                    Most “city” or utility, piped in water comes to the house at a pressure of 45+ lbs which is plenty strong enough to give you good flow at a hydrant. You can buy a water pressure gauge for a few $ that screws on to a water out let that has a “hose” type male fitting.


                                    • #19
                                      Pressure is pressure, you will just keep more of it with a smaller pipe at less GPM. We have some 1" runs that are 500 feet from the well tank and have good pressure and flow.


                                      • #20
                                        Be sure not to try to save a few bucks by using a smaller diameter pipe if you have a lot of gpm available.

                                        I checked just using different diameter hoses for filling waterers, and found that using 3/4" rather than 5/8" hose saved us something over 10 minutes a day. It works the same for the supply line.

                                        Flow rate is what makes the difference in how fast a bucket fills. Your well driller will know how much water your well supplies, if you are on a well. 1" supply line is fine if all you have is something up to 6 or 7 gallons a minute. Over that, and I'd go to 1 1/4".

                                        Also, every turn slows up the flow, as does extra distance.

                                        Pressure doesn't make much difference in flow rate unless your supply system is right at the maximum flow rate for the well. At that point, the pressure can drop faster than the pump can recover at the low pressure cutoff of the pressure switch. Decades ago it didn't matter, since pressure switches didn't have low pressure cutoffs. Now, every pressure switch I've seen in 20 years has a low pressure cutoff, and if the pressure drops below the lower setting, you have to manually hold the little lever up until pressure builds back up above the minimum.

                                        Long story short, if you well only supplies 3 1/2 gallons a minute, don't use 1 1/4" supply line. If your well supplies 30 gallons a minute, use 1 1/4" supply line, a 1" hydrant, and smile when you fill buckets.

                                        Pressure switches come in 20 to 40, 30 to 50, and 40 to 60 psi. There are also constant pressure systems now, and if I was putting in a complete new system, I'd use a Grundfos constant pressure system now. The constant pressure pump costs more, but you only need a small pressure tank for any system.