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Heat tape on hydrant?

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  • Heat tape on hydrant?

    I have a frost-free hydrant inside my barn. I live in CT where the temps are usually in the teens and 20s at night during winter although there are cold snaps when it's around 0. Do I need heat tape for the hydrant? Can I get by with just insulating the pipe? I get worried about heaters of any kind in the barn but I don't want the hydrant to freeze. (I know it's not supposed to but I'm a worry-wart.) Thanks!

  • #2
    Northeast Wisconsin here and my frost free hydrant has never frozen. Just be sure to not leave the hose connected to it. No heat tape or insulation needed.
    Last edited by kmw2707; Oct. 23, 2008, 12:07 PM. Reason: spelling
    Things Take Time


    • #3
      My freeze up every year I am dreading winter. They never use to I think I'll call a plumber today
      "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


      • #4
        The water is all suppose to drain back down into the ground when you shut the water off. If a hose is still attached the water can't drain down properly or if the pipe is not deep enough (below frost line) I suppose that could be a problem too.
        Things Take Time


        • #5
          Some foam insulation without the heat tape is cheap insurance. It won't prevent it from freezing if the hose is left connected, though!
          The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
          Winston Churchill


          • #6
            You must remove any add ons (like a spigot, splitter or hose)--and then, if it was installed correctly, no additional action is required.

            If you leave a splitter or spigot or hose on, all bets are off and even with heat tape, you'll probably end up with frozen portions.
            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

            Might be a reason, never an excuse...


            • #7
              Mine last year had some sort of mechanical malfunction in the underground portion that it was too late by winter to replace. I wrapped that heat tape to it and left that sucker on it all winter, unplugging when temps didn't need it...

              I was worried about having that and my tank heater plugged in, but sometimes it's a trade off...

              Did you guys who have yours freezing get them checked? How old are they? Mine was only 3 years old but still broke...
              "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

              Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


              • #8
                I just had water line to the barn put in... and I plan on building a box around the hydrant with styrofoam insulation. Hang the hose in the box but ALWAYS disconnected from the hydrant.

                I don't trust anything that makes heat with electricity. Too dang many rodents to chew wires no matter what I do to prevent it.

                I also had the make the installer remove the sand he put in the "hole" and replace it with pea gravel.


                • #9
                  I am in a cold north clime and mine is in a nonheated garage that gets down to 0 when the temps are below zero. I just insultated the heck out of it and it survived me stupidly leaving my garage door open ALL day when the high was 10 farenheit. I did double wrap though.

                  And, I "try" to not run it at night before a horrible cold, morning, I do try to time things for warmer days or when I know the sun will heat up the building. I'm just paranoid, though.
                  "Fool! Don't you see now that I could have poisoned you a hundred times had I been able to live without you." Cleopatra VII


                  • #10
                    My hydrant is by Campbell. For years in our old barn we had an old red one and never had a problem with it. Since we build the new barn in 1998, we have had 4 new hydrants and many calls to Campbell. I believe the original problem started when my Nelson waterer leaked and flooded the ground. Other leaks or flooding caused similar problems. What I have found is that you need to have a large stone drain area below the frost line so the water running down has someplace to go. But the stones can't be too sharp or they will cut the black rubber plunger at the bottom of the hydrant that controls the water in and out. That happened to us 8 months ago. Campbell sent us several new plungers, my plumber put grease on the threads so it'd be easier to get off the next time it happens. If you leave a hose connected, even in the summer, it drains back too much water and messes up the stone drain area. It seems that nothing really breaks on these hydrants except the black rubber plunger. The handle needs to be adjusted exactly so the plunger closes correctly. No nozzles, splitters, gadgets. And if they drain correctly, they don't freeze up, and don't need insulating.
                    There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


                    • #11
                      When I was talking with my "well" guy, he told me that some hydrant models clog up easier than other models.
                      I have a Waterford brand. Another well guy told me that Waterford is a good brand to use for hydrants.

                      At one barn, they built a HUGE insulated "shed" (about 2' deep, by 3' wide by 7' tall) over each hydrant in the aisles. Raised floor and lots of drainage underneath. They used 150 watt light exterior light bulbs in drop lamps in the "sheds" to keep it warm enough to prevent MOST hose freezeups.


                      • #12
                        Most hydrants drain as soon as you shut down the handle-that is the whole point-they are "freeze-less". The part that has to be UNDERGROUND is way down at the bottom of the pipe, where the main water line meets the hydrant pipe.
                        2 winters ago, our hydrant froze. I followed the pipe down into the underpinnings of the barn (built in 1800) to find that this key joining of pipes was indeed out in the open, above ground. I spent the rest of the day shoveling sand and gravel and crushed stone into a mountain to cover that joint and the main feed water line. I covered about the bottom 2 feet of hydrant pipe as well and- knock.on.wood- haven't had a freeze since. Wrapping the standing pipe with heat tape will do nothing for the water but will eventually burn down your barn. PLEASE be careful with that stuff!

                        OH! P.S. Disconnect the hose in the Winter time! That WILL cause a freeze bc the hose can't drain completely..........
                        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                        • #13
                          I use a heat tape and wrap the pipe in fiberglass insulation (came with the heat tape kit). It's a cheap enough solution and gives me peace of mind.
                          I found out the hard way what happens when you leave a hose attached to a frost-free hydrant in Winter

                          We get winter temps in the minus numbers on occasion, although it probably never gets quite that cold inside my barn, even with stall doors to the East open 24/7.
                          When nighttime temps drop below 40, I remove the hose from the pump and water by bucket brigade (fill one bucket at the pump, replace with empty while I fill stall bucket with that one, wash, rinse repeat...)
                          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                          • #14
                            Mine is outside my barn (yeah... poor planning) but 10 years the only problem I've had was for some reason one winter the rubber plunger in the pipe froze and was 'slipping' inside the pipe, so it wouldn't open all the way. Luckily I have a plug right close to the hydrant, so 2 minutes with a blow dryer fixed it right up.

                            I got smart last year and put my 70 gal. water tank right under the hydrant... the power to the bucket heater runs behind the bucket through the spare stall door, so the horses can't get to it at all.

                            Same with my heated buckets in the stalls... I run the cord through a hole in the stall wall, and the outlet in each stall is just below the edge of the wall, so they can't get to it at all. Emptying and cleaning is a pain, but its worth it.
                            Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                            Witherun Farm


                            • #15
                              Plumber says the problem is underground and I need new hydrants About $1800 for everything They are leaking and not draining properly. I am getting a second opinion later today.
                              "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Woodland View Post
                                Plumber says the problem is underground and I need new hydrants About $1800 for everything They are leaking and not draining properly. I am getting a second opinion later today.
                                It should NOT cost you that much, unless you have more than one.

                                I had to replace the frost-free hydrant outside my barn 2 months ago, and it was $895 (most of that labor from having to dig by hand down to the joint), and that was from the uber-expensive people, but they could do it next-day and have a 2 year guarantee.
                                Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles


                                • #17
                                  We just put in another hydrant for my paddocks and the hydrant itself cost me $50 and the pipe was maybe $100. I would definetly get another quote!!!
                                  RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                                  May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                                  RIP San Lena Peppy
                                  May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


                                  • #18
                                    Correct information in the previous posts. Key issues are:
                                    1. Make sure the closure is adjusted correctly. They should provide water when open, but shut off and all water drain out of the hydrant when closed. You can err on both ends.
                                    2. Make sure the water has somewhere to go when it should drain. If it's in frozen and/or non-permeable ground, it can't drain, stays in the hydrant and freezes. Dig down to the water supply line and around the hydrant, put a BUNCH of gravel in there for a perk field.
                                    3. If the packing gland leaks, this water will also freeze and make the hydrant non-functioning. Replace and/or adjust the packing so it doesn't leak when you use it.

                                    I'm so smart, I know all that stuff -- and mine still freeze. Go figure. So I said the hell with it and put self limiting heat tapes on them and they work all winter.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post
                                      I use a heat tape and wrap the pipe in fiberglass insulation (came with the heat tape kit). It's a cheap enough solution and gives me peace of mind.
                                      I found out the hard way what happens when you leave a hose attached to a frost-free hydrant in Winter

                                      We get winter temps in the minus numbers on occasion, although it probably never gets quite that cold inside my barn, even with stall doors to the East open 24/7.
                                      When nighttime temps drop below 40, I remove the hose from the pump and water by bucket brigade (fill one bucket at the pump, replace with empty while I fill stall bucket with that one, wash, rinse repeat...)

                                      Not leaving a hose attached doesn't mean you can't use a hose at all. Up here, it will get to 20* below zero on quite a few nights, and we usually get at least one (sometimes two) cold spells where it does not even get as warm as zero during the day for a week or two.

                                      I take care of my neighbor's farm for the winter and they have a frost free hydrant. I hook up the hose, fill the tanks, then disconnect the hose and drain it. If the tank end of the hose is lower than the hydrant connection, there will be an immediate syphon effect when the hose is unhooked that starts the hose-draining process. A quick hand-over-hand pass along the hose finishes the job. Have never had a problem with the hydrant or the hose freezing.

                                      Unless you only have a couple of horses, bucket-brigading makes it a whole lot more work than it has to be.


                                      • #20
                                        Winter water tips

                                        We live near Minneapolis/St. Paul and below freezing is a reality for us
                                        from late November until March (yes, pretty much continuously). We
                                        have two frost hydrants, one in each barn. One is a Woodford and
                                        it has needed one repair in 20 years. The other is a Campbell and it
                                        is constantly in need of repairs and adjustments (and we have only
                                        had it for about a decade). The plumber who installed our Woodford
                                        had worked with farmers for quite a while and he made sure to put
                                        in a sizeable drain area in our clay soil.

                                        We have to get water from our frost hydrant which is at the front of
                                        the barn to the back of the barn where the stock tank is located.
                                        What my DH did was to put up rigid white plastic water pipe near
                                        the barn ceiling with a strong slant to the pipe. The plastic pipe is
                                        connected to a short hose (we use washing machine hose). The
                                        short hose is hooked to the frost hydrant using a quick disconnect
                                        (we like the GatorLock brand made by GreenLeaf of Indiana). When
                                        the stock tank is full, we turn off the water and immediately unhook
                                        the hose from the hydrant. Because the plastic pipe is slanted, it
                                        drains empty faster than it can freeze. The hose is short enough
                                        that it simply hangs from the pipe (empty) until it is next needed.
                                        Nothing to freeze and nothing to empty. And if one forgets to
                                        disconnect the hose and the plastic pipe does freeze (oh no, my
                                        DH never did that (ha)), the section of pipe which is cracked from
                                        freezing can easily be sawed out and a replacement section glued
                                        in (although you do need to run a heater on the joint until the glue
                                        sets in freezing weather).
                                        Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                                        Elmwood, Wisconsin