Frost-free hydrants operate with a control lever and a horse connecting pipe above ground. While the operating valve is below the ground at a depth where the freezing conditions don’t occur.
During winter, it is vital to have water for livestock, activities of your homestead, and even the greenhouse if you have one. Using a frost-free hydrant is the way to go.
They are also known to provide running water for building sites, garages,s, and gardening. Provided there is a water supply.
Even though during the warm season, your tap is sufficient. When the temperatures drop, it could cause the water in the pipes to freeze.
One way to reduce that risk is by installing a frost-free hydrant. It will prevent water from freezing below the frost line.
Either inside the pipe or valve and damaging it. It is designed for all water to drain from the pipe after closing. Making them ideal for supplying water during winter.
The good thing about these hydrants is that they are easy to maintain and repair. Its parts are designed to disassemble and assemble without a hassle.
These hydrants also come in different depths. Which is dependent on where you live. However, the minimum depth is 4 inches below ground. Which is the freezing point.
There are areas where the hydrants would go as deep as 24 inches.This totally depends on how deep the water supply is and the degree of winter experienced.
How do the hydrants work? When you lift the handle up, the rod at the center of the pipe comes down. Then it pulls up the plunger at the bottom.
Where the valve sits below the frost line and it doesn’t freeze. You may wonder if you pull down the handle, if there will be water remaining in the pipe.
No. The water remaining in the pipe will come out through the weeping hole. Except for the water below the freezing line.
Before installing, you have to determine where to locate the hydrant. It has to be at a place where it will serve several purposes. Without being hit by any vehicle.
Ideally most people prefer to place it next to the south facing wall of a building. This so it can benefit more from the available sunlight. However, I think placing it near the livestock and vegetation would also be ideal.
This is because factors such as climate, soil consistency and distribution will affect the depth of the frost line.
Using a backhoe, create a trench that is safely below the frost line. This should be from the supply to the intended location of your hydrant. Then dig a pothole at the place of the hydrant.
While installing them you will need to begin by digging up to remove the old PVC line providing water. In order to put the hydrants in. At this point, you have to have closed the main tap.
Once you find the bottom of the old water line where you want to tap into, cut it off. Let the water that was still in the pipe soak into the surrounding soil. Before filling gravel into the bottom of that hole.
The gravel should be a fairly large aggregate. Probably one inch and above. Mix up the big blocks with the small ones. They will act as a small french drain.
This is one of the most important steps because of the weep hole at the bottom of the hydrant. Which needs to drain all the water out at the top of the pipe. Into the surrounding ground for the hydrant to function properly and not freeze.
The weep hole should be free from all debris and sediments. This will increase the longevity of the hydrant. The reason being when the weep hole is clogged it will end up messing with the valves.
Usually a 5 gallon bucket is used to protect the weep hole. But if you don’t have a very low frost line, a smaller bucket would work as well.
What you need to do is cut a hole through the middle of the bucket. It should be wide enough for the hydrant pipe to fit in. You can use any type of tool that you have to make the cut.
As usual while working with brass and PVC, you need PVC glue and a pipe sealant. They are important while putting the hydrant pipe together.
Now connect the elbow fitting into the hydrant pipe sealant. Then connect the quarter inch female slip to the end of the pipe that you got at the ground.
When attaching the PVC fittings, ensure that the pipe is clean and dry. And that you have taken off all the burrs from your cut.
Then place the bucket over the bottom of the hydrant. The bucket should have a notch for your water line. Let the notche reach half way of the bucket. If you have an inlet and outlet cut two notches.
Once you have everything tightened up below and you have checked for leaks. Connect the hydrant with the two fittings. Then pull the gravel around the bucket in order to hold it in place.
Then fill in the hole with more gravel. The neo fabric over the top of the bucket will come in handy with preventing dirt from getting into the area of where the weep hole is.
On top of that fabric, replace the dirt that you had taken out. Then hook back up your irrigation system.
Keep in mind that the number one reason for hydrants to fail is because of dirt getting into the weep hole. Then into the valve hence messing up the seals.
The design of the hydrants enables the entire inner parts assembly to be removed and replaced. When they get worn out.
How do you identify leaks in the frost free hydrants? They reveal themselves in several ways. The most obvious one being water flowing out of the hydrant when the lever is on the off position.
Another thing would be noticing the ground is saturated around where the hydrant is. This would mean there is leaking from the drain valve below the ground.
Your water meter is also a good pointer there is leakage. Especially if your bill comes higher than usual. Or the meter is turning on excessively.
To solve the leakage, begin by turning off the water supply to the hydrant. Then release the water pressure by raising the handle then putting it back.
Now loosen the set screw using a crescent or a box- end wrench. Raise the handle about 5-6 inches. Then retighten the set screw and bring down the handle.
Turn the water supply back on and test the frost free hydrant. By letting water run for a few minutes then turning it off. Wait a few minutes while observing if the leak is still there.
Reset the set screw until when you place your hand over the spicket, you will feel a vacuum pulling against your hand. This is an indication that the hydrant is draining properly.
Always remember to regularly remove the hose from the spicket. To check if the hydrant is draining properly.
In the case that the ground is saturated with water. Then the valve and the sealant has an issue. This could be because debris has interfered with the weep hole.
This is to mean that the water left in the rod pipe is not draining properly. Causing the valve to dysfunction.
Such that the plunger where the water supply is hooked up is leaking.
Here you will need to replace the hydrant. Begin by digging down to the base of the hydrant. Don’t forget to cut off the water supply.
Untighten the rod and remove the elbow. Do away with all the old fittings and replace with new ones. Ensure you get the hydrant that is of high quality to avoid wear and tear.
Use Teflon tape on the edge of all fittings tightly so that they fit each other perfectly. As well as prevent debris such as roots from making their way into the hydrant.
Ensure you level it up, and tighten it nicely to avoid leakage. To extend the longevity of the pipe, tape it from the bottom to just above ground level. With PVC tape.
Don’t forget to put a bucket over the hydrant with gravel at the bottom. Which prevents sediments from backfilling the drain plug. Therefore water will always drain into the gravel.
You may wonder why gravel? It’s because it will allow water to drain through without absorbing it. Like soil would.
Frost free hydrant pipes are a huge help in getting water where it’s needed. It will save you the time and energy of dragging the garden hose a couple feet around whenever the need arises.
The frost free hydrant provides a solution where freezing is a problem. You get to enjoy all year- round water service. Without the danger of damage to the pipes or hydrant.