Frost Free Hydrant Questions:

loger_gwFebruary 1, 2011

Frost Free Hydrant Questions: I missed removing a water hose and covering a frost free hydrant before we got into instant teens in North TX.

1. I removed the hose today that was full of ice as the hydrant (w/o noticing any cracks) and covered it.

2. My concern is, will the ice in the hydrant expand more with lower temps coming that could crack it?

3. At this point I wanted to warm and clear the hydrant of ice but I realize this is not the time for a repair.

4. Is waiting for the freeze thawing about Friday my best option?

5. Are most or all frost free hydrants threaded into copper in slab foundation/brick wall house structures?

6. Hopefully, if any damage was done, it will be to the frost free hydrant and I hope it is threaded.

Thanks for any info in advance. loger

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Google frost free hydrants and you'll learn all you need to know about them, including how to repair.

Frost free hydrants have the valve buried in the ground, below the frost line-hence the term frost free. When the valve is closed, the water above the valve drains out into gravel placed around the valve assembly.

Or are you talking about a freeze proof hose bib which is on the side of your house and disappears into the basement or crawl space? If so, the concept is the same in that the valve is in a "freeze proof" or warmer area under your house and when the valve is closed and hose removed water drains out via the hose connection. These typically have a combination screwed or sweat fitting for copper. Problems with these units typically result in replacement as they only cost $20-30.

Good Luck,


    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 8:52AM
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Thanks For The Reply! My frost-free hydrant is mounted horizontally on and into a brick wall. It would have drained free of water about 8" - 10" deep from the brick surface if the hose had not been connected. I'll hope for the best when it thaws. Otherwise, I'll remove a small section of sheet-rock inside to make the repair using a threaded supported fitting to connect to.

1984 is the last time I remember we got into the teens for a number of days. That's why I c/n remember if it is threaded or soldered or repairable. I have relocated one of the hydrants and my nature is to adapt to threads related to adding or replacing fixtures. Just incase there is a "Next Time"! We are having controlled "Brown-Outs" to conserve electricity, "A First"! loger

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 2:26PM
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Loger: As Ex has explained you have no problem with your freeze-proof spigot or exterior faucet . The are designed to operate in this fashion once the ambient temps climb and the exposed portion thaws the valve will function. You may wish to confirm this by 1st shutting the interior shutoff valve feeding this exterior valve and thaw the freeze proof unit with a prepo (propane) torch . Then open you outside valve a little then open the inside valve to ensure flow . I normally open the the outside valve and drain the piping once I have closed the inside feed valve. I have never had a valve split or become permanently damaged because they are fail safe design , even here in the Great White North -30 F today lol . Don't sweat it I'm sure all will be well .

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 3:45PM
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Thanks exmar & ewalk! It's good to see you are still on the job ewalk. All I need is one more project to put me under. I have not been able to share as much due to local Volunteering and too many personal projects. Take Care! loger

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 8:15PM
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loger, I surmise that, like me, you're in the general DFW area. I've owned several homes in this area, all with exterior bibbs sticking out through the brick, but I've NEVER had one with an interior shutoff. They have all been connected directly to the supply line, and are inaccessible unless you remove drywall or bricks. Normally our weather presents no problem, but 3-4 days of temps in the teens (and lower) have me worried.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 10:10PM
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IMO most of the time the only problem if hose is left connected. if so the water will not drain. once the water has no where to expand when frozen solid that's when things get ugly. if you remove the hose IMO the water still left inside the bibb frozen will expand out the opening. IMO houses in the south are probably not as protected as housing in the north.

Your inside wall and heat inside you house should protect the pipes inside the house. The problem would if you loose power and you house temp. drops. if this happens you want to shut off the water and drain all the valves available to let as much water out so the frozen water has some were to expand. Usually slab housing pipes are protected enough to prevent freezing. When slab houses pipe have been replaced an ran overhead in the attic's pipe freezing and busting at greater risk due to the quick loss of heat and poor insulation in attic's.

Even under normal conditions attic pipes can freeze an burst if temps drop low enough. Same effect in pump houses due to pipes above ground and little insulation. Heat tape commonly used in these situations were pipes are exposed in places. Good example would be pre-fab housing with crawl spaces (up on blocks From the slap or well pump above ground inside well house or unheated garage.

Houses built after the late 50's/60's usually have heat vents in the floors in slab type housing. usually vents are placed under each sink, this further protects the pipes in the slab due to the heat ducting close to the pipes. After 20 to 30 years slab ducting starts collaping and the fix is to run ducting across the attic's, which is probably norm for today due to the cost of down flow ducting replacement in slab type housing. Even without heating duct in slab floors 99% water piping would be protected. Sometime pipes are ran close to outside wall and heat is poor on that side or people shut vents off and close doors to save on heating bills, this lower the temp. in that room risking pipes to freeze on that side of the house if outside temps drop extremely for days on end. Kinda long and most know this already?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 5:18AM
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Thanks for the info rcmoser! The info is along my line of thoughts. The hose being left on to not allow the hydrant to properly drain was the problem "charged to my Lazy Oversight". Event though, the 2nd in charge assured me the hydrant was covered. I probably bumped onto it cleaning my sewer line the day before. Yep! You d/n want to clean a sewer line in freezing weather and this was a PM I wanted to be sure of.

I double-checked the hydrant just a few hours too late. The 70s to freezing in 24 hrs is not uncommon in North TX. BUT! A hard freeze is what is not common. That is why my initial question was, "does ice expand more the colder it gets"? I d/n see a break when I disconnected the hose after the initial over-night freeze nor had we got into the teens that set in. Our last freeze on this scale was in 1984 and it taught us a lot of needs that were new due to not seeing this type of freeze. We had damages to many pipes in garages, under houses and car engines.

I remember well, cutting about 3/4 cord of wood 10 days during the high for the day 2 PM - 5 PM round trip. As I attempted to leave one day, I noticed a hydrant on in a recessed patio facing the south that h/n had a winter problem. The brass had split and I capped the pipe and got my load of wood w/o a problem. The load per day was my Exercise and Fun "Then". LOL. Free cut-it-yourself firewood is too hard to find close now. Except for our snowstorm last winter that damaged many Live Oak Trees due to the leaves holding the snow. I harvested 4 + cords in 2 weeks within 1-2 mi avg dist from home and all of it was cut and some was loaded. That was all the space I could spare with 1 cord racked in my daughter's back yard. I would say 1 per 100,000 in this area attempt to cut and burn firewood vs a little higher in 1984. If someone know some real figures I would like to know them. loger

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 1:00PM
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RC: Great Thread Bro , you have related very much what worse case scenario might indeed involve . Very good examples . My guest house is a prime example of a 3 brick frost wall on cement peer design (unheated crawl space) all exposed copper is insulated and I have low wattage heat wrap cord on the inlet for 10' for backup covered within roxal mineral wool insulation for rodent protection . I have read about the tx electrical blackouts , hope all goes well for our friend loger . Just a point of info in cases where your interior house temps do plummet for extended period , open the hot water line on the longest run and let the tap just allow a small flow , this will ensure both the hot and cold water circuits have flow . As most of us know cold water must feed the hot water tank which then on demand flows to the hot water circuits. Although the water is not being heated if the tank is elect. you will have a form of water flow. This will assist with freeze prevention until power is restored .

P.S. Loger , yep still kicking had the hip replacement and had a great pain free summer and fall . Have a potential clutch replacment on the Ole Diesel Tractor this weekend , always something . All the Best Dude !

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 6:04PM
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Bingo! The Frost Free Hydrant Thawed. Then, tested good with no signs of a break or drip. Thanks! loger

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 4:49PM
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Great to hear Bro ! Although described as Freeze Proof Design , they do on occasion freeze , but I can only recount one time that I can remember any damage . I suppose they should call them fail proof instead lol . I can unfortunately recall numerous - 30 -40 F days here in the Great White North . Just a fact of life up North , least don't have to worry about the Black Flys for a few months :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 8:43AM
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Here in our Borough, we have had an extended session of building of large office buildings, in the last 8-10 years.
the favorite thing to do is install the heating, a.c. units up in the areas above the regular ceilings. Usually covered by ceiling tiling of some sort, but not the hard type.
So, the A.C runs all summer. Then the hard freezes and real cold winter weather starts, and soon the water flow alarms start going off, when the plastic piping in the crawl spaces breaks. The water flow alarms are connected to the fire alarms, which are sent into the city fire call centers automatically!
So, the firemen get to the scene, to find water running everywhere, and no fire! Of course, this causes a lot of expense to the bldg. owners.
Recently, the Fire Chief got to a house that the neighbors had called in. they had seen water running out the doorways, so they decided to call us. Turned out to be a furnace in the crawl space in the roof area. The owners had gone to Acapulco for an extended vacation. And our weather had turned really cold, early in the winter. I heard the owners had turned the furnace thermostat way down, and it got too cold outside for it to keep the pipes from freezing.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 11:00AM
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