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Old 11/13/10, 06:19 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: South Central WI
Posts: 834
Best Frost-Free Hydrant Installation Techniques?

I'm having a hoop barn built next week. This will be an unheated barn. I'm having a hydrant put inside for water.

I have 2 other hydrants on the farm, one outside, one inside another barn. The outside one always freezes in cold weather, the inside one usually doesn't until temps go below zero. These are placed at least 5 feet deep, and the vertical pipe is sheated by a 6" pvc pipe filled w/ gravel.

What is the best technique to set the new one up and prevent freezing?
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Old 11/13/10, 06:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 10,863
Follow the directions given on the faucet. I would use something besides gravel to cover it up with.If it is 5 feet down then it should not freeze unless you have a hose attached to it. dig down at least a foot below it and put some gravel back in the hole so it will have a place to drain then cover it up with dirt packed around the faucet. The frost line surely isn't 5 feet. If you are talking about a freeze proof faucet if not then cover it with anything to keep it from freezing.
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Last edited by Old Vet; 11/13/10 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 11/13/10, 06:28 PM
arabian knight's Avatar
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: West Central WI.
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Sounds like it is backing up the PVC pipe making it freeze. You want the water to Drain from the bottom of the pipe and never work its way back upward.
The water should drain from the bottom of the pipe, that is where the valve is, and down and into the ground, not up any type of sheeted pipe that maybe covering the hydrant pipe..
Gravel at the bottom of the hole and make sure it has plenty of area to drain down and soak into the ground.
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Old 11/13/10, 06:41 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 12,473
I once worked for a very good rural plumber.

His method was to mount the hydrant inside 4" PVC (no gravel). Drill a hole in a 4" PVC cap to the diameter of the hydrant pipe, Run the hydrant pipe through the hole in the cap and glue the cap to the PVC pipe.

The pipe wont shift and will drain just fine. Little or no water/snow comes in from the outside. Gravel at the bottom, as others have stated.

I did mine this way and has worked without freezing problem for 4 years now.

Last edited by plowjockey; 11/13/10 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 11/14/10, 12:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: MN
Posts: 7,570
What purpose does the 4 or 6 inch plastic shell serve? I'd think it would be a channel for cold air to go down & freeze the pipe.

When you turn the faucet off, it drains the water down to the bottom of the pipe. You need the water to run away, you need a pile of gravel at the bottom, in my clay soil I ran a 3 inch drain tile along with the water line so the drain water has someplace to go, away from the faucet pipe.

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Old 11/14/10, 12:40 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: W. Oregon
Posts: 8,686
Dig the ditch several feet past the hydrant location, a foot deeper than the waterline. Put a foot and a half of gravel in trench and around hydrant after installing. Lay black plastic on top of gravel, then backfill with dirt. The plastic keeps dirt from mixing into the rock. You will always have a place for the water to go. This is how we install fire hydrants....James
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Old 11/14/10, 07:47 AM
nehimama's Avatar
An Ozark Engineer
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Location: Powhatan, AR
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Leaving a hose hooked up to the hydrant will surely cause it to freeze up. (Ask me how I know. . . .. )
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Old 11/14/10, 08:57 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: SE WI
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Our frost line is 4' and I didn't do anything special with the hydrants. Just gravel at the bottom for drainage, then filled the hole with dirt. No PVC sheath or anything. I did put rigid foam insulation over the water line before it was backfilled even though it is more than 4' down. We've had winters where the frost has reached 6' in some areas.

A client of mine sheathed his entire underground water line in PVC and also put the hydrant itself in an upright culvert wide enough to get down there if needed. There is a lid on the culvert and he swears by his method saying it saves digging up everything if there is an issue.
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Old 11/14/10, 09:15 AM
motdaugrnds's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Virginia
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We have "freeze-proof" outdoor faucets and have placed both into the ground the same way. Our ground is sandy loam with heavy clay and a rock bed to deal with under the top soil. This means, even though the faucet would drain out well, the water would sit in that hole going nowhere and getting closer to the top of the ground each time faucet was used. Thus, we could not just install according to instructions.

Our "frost-line" is 18" here; so we dug a hole 3' deep for each faucet (We have two: one inside barn and one outdoors near chicken pen.) and, also, dug a trench from each hole. We ran each trench out to where the ground sloped well and made sure all water coming out of the faucet when we turn it off would run all the way down each trench. (One trench only needed to be 15' long; but the other is 100+' long; both started at 3' deep at the faucet.) We then installed the faucets and made sure the valve for each was working well .. some adjustments needed to be made up near the handle. Then we used #57 gravel and filled the bottom of the hole up a good foot to near the "bottom" of the faucet & continued this gravel all the way down the trenches. Then we laid 4" corrugated pipe right up next to the valve at the bottom of each faucet and ran that pipe all the way down the trenches making sure it was "below" the 18" frost line. (We made a ball-shaped fixture out of plastic wire and placed it in the 2 ends of each of those corrugated pipes.) We then placed #57 gravel over the pipes & up the faucets about 6"; then covered this with a thick layer of newspaper. Then we shoveled the dirt back into the trench and filled the hole faucet was in up to the top. This was a lot of work; but well worth it.

Be sure and place a cut-off switch on the faucet that you connect your water hose(s) to; then in bad weather turn it off and leave the ends of your water "hoses" open just a little with the hose stretched out downhill . When the faucet is turned off, it will drain down into the trench; but if the cut-off switch that lets water run from faucet into water hose is not cut off, the water from the hose will be sucked into the freeze-proof faucet and you could easily wide up freezing that faucet.
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Last edited by motdaugrnds; 11/14/10 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 11/14/10, 10:59 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: SE Oklahoma
Posts: 2,003
Does the existing faucet that freezes have a drive way that crosses the supply line that feeds it? Water lines that are under areas with vehicular traffic are more prone to freeze. Those lines are usually buried quite a bit deeper.
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Old 11/15/10, 08:27 AM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: South Central WI
Posts: 834
Thanks for all the suggestions!
the concept of having the pvc sleeve around the vertical pipe (and extending down to below frost line) is to capture and funnel the warmer air from below frost line to help keep the thing fron freezing up, using geo-thermal heat. And the one hydrant that freezes is not directly undera a driveway, however the one in line *before* it is, but it ends inside my barn, which stays a bit warmer with critters in it, and it doesn't freeze near as much. Maybe just the parts themselves are frozen shut?
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Old 11/15/10, 04:53 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
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I'm working on lines now. I'll be sliding black pvc over the exposed hydrants for the same reason I'll be using tires around some winter water troughs, for the solar gain from the sun on the black surface, and to keep the wind from blowing directly on the pipe.
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