Yard hydrants provide running water for livestock, Building sites, lawn, and garden. Installed anywhere with a water supply, a frost-free valve operates below the frost line and all water drains from the pipe after closing, making them ideal for supplying water to unheated sheds and barns. All yard hydrants can be easily maintained and repaired completely above ground, no digging required. Their design enables the entire inner parts assembly to be removed to replace worn parts after years of service. This is done simply by loosening the hydrant head – the inner parts swivel freely so that the head connecting rod and plunger can be pulled out as a single unit.
How Do I Install a Frost Proof Yard Hydrant?
Frost-proof yard hydrants are standard water fixtures for outdoor use in northern climates where freezing temperatures are common. Frost-proof hydrants operate with a control lever and hose connector tap above ground, while the operating valve is below ground at a depth where freezing conditions do not occur. Each time the hydrant is shut off, the water in the upright portion of the pipe drains out of holes in the base of the pipe, leaving no water in any portion of the hydrant subject to freezing conditions. Most do-it-yourselfers can install a frost-proof hydrant, although the project involves excavation to a level below the frost line.
Chose your site. Hydrants should be located where they will not be subject to damage by livestock or machinery and should be convenient for filling watering troughs for animals. A free draining area is best and a south facing aspect is ideal as it will get some heat from the sun. Dig a hole for the frost-proof hydrant. The hole must be at least 4ft deep and wide enough to work in. It must be about 1ft below the frost line for your area. The frost line is defined as the depth in the ground which reaches freezing temperatures during the winter months and varies from area to area. (British Isles- Max 2- 3ft) Check locally
Position the support post. Go down about another foot in one spot for the support post (about 5ft deep). This will be for the post which will support the hydrant. Place a four by four post, cut to about seven feet long and treated for ground contact in the post hole, orient the post correctly according to where you want the outlet of the hydrant to point and backfill the post hole with dirt, tamping the dirt firmly after every couple of shovels full. Stop when you backfill to the level of 4ft.
Fill the base of the excavation hole with ¾” gravel (gravel screened to a minimum size of ¾”), At least one cubic yard of this clean, coarse stone must be placed underneath the stop-and-drain valve of the hydrant. The yard hydrant will sit on this base.
Attach an elbow to the base of the hydrant if the hydrant is the end of the water line. Attach a T-fitting to the bottom of the hydrant if the water line continues to other fixtures. Connect the water line to the fitting at the base, using appropriate methods. PTFE tape should be used on all threaded joints. Do not over tighten as you may damage the brass valve at the base of the hydrant. Secure the hydrant to the support post using strong cable ties or pipe clips. Test the function of the hydrant and check for leaks by introducing water to the line. (Use a hose pipe to take the water away from your working area). When the hydrant is open, water should exit from the tap opening. When the hydrant is closed, the water in the hydrant’s vertical pipe should drain into the gravel area at the base of the hydrant.
Add another layer of clean, coarse stone to a level at least 3 inches above the drain opening in the brass housing at the base of the frost-proof hydrant. A container such as a heavy plastic bucket placed upside down around the valve will also aid the quick draining. It is important that no fine particles of sand which might enter and block the drain opening can do so. Any adjustment of the hydrant should be done before backfilling.
Place a layer of plastic or geotextile material over the stone to prevent clay and silt being washed down into it. Fill the rest of the excavated hole with the soil removed during the earlier excavation. Tamp each layer firmly as you go. Keep the hydrant vertically straight while adding and tamping the soil in place.
Tips & Warnings
Frost-proof hydrants come in a variety of lengths offering options for the proper depth, no matter how deep or shallow the frost line is in your area. If you don’t know how deep the frost line is in your area, ask other homeowners how deep water lines are buried in the area. Water lines should always be installed below the frost line. Proper installation for drainage is key, both at the base to drain the supply pipe and on the surface to take away any water splashed about. Accumulations of water around the hydrant will cause a problem. In these situations, a small pipe should be connected to the drain hole to move the water away from the location of the hydrant, into a prepared drainage field of rock and gravel. A drainage pipe at the surface should take away surface water.
If the hydrant is installed through a concrete floor or slab, insulate the portion of the standpipe in contact with the concrete and lay some insulation beneath the concrete for about 3ft x 3ft around the hydrant. Also score the concrete on the same square and allow for movement of the slab. A hydrant can be checked to see if it is draining by allowing the water to run, shutting off the hydrant and holding the palm of your hand over the end of the spout. If suction is felt, then the hydrant is draining.
Hydrants should never be installed in or near wells or water pump sumps. Drainage from the hydrant can contaminate the well or flood a pump sump. For example, the end of a hose being used to dilute a slurry pit may become submerged in the slurry. If the hydrant is shut off and starts to drain, a siphoning action will be started, and the slurry from the slurry pit will be siphoned back through the hydrant into the drainage area. If the hydrant drains into the well casing or well pit, the result may be considerable contamination. This can also apply to filling spraying tanks.
If a hose is attached to the hydrant then an air gap must always be kept between a hose outlet and the highest possible water level in any tank. Anti-siphon or vacuum breaker valves are available for hydrants that will help prevent this type of accident. The hose should always be disconnected and drained after each use to avoid freezing. The hydrant may not properly drain (and then be damaged by frost in winter) if air cannot easily enter the hydrant. This can occur if a hose or other device is left connected to the hydrant that blocks the air passage.
A frost-free hydrant completely drains the water all the way down into the hole every time it shuts off, therefore keeping it from freezing. Pouring concrete around the base will guarantee problems, because it won’t drain out and concrete also conducts the frost.
A hydrant can freeze due to improper valve adjustment, a saturated drainage bed, a plugged drain hole or improper use, such as incomplete shut off or the constant withdrawal of only small amounts of water These hydrants rely on draining the supply riser pipe after each use for frost protection.
A water film can remain on the inside of the riser after each use and freeze, and if it accumulates it can block the water flow. This may be prevented if sufficient water is flushed through the riser at each use to remove any accumulated ice build-up. Whilst using a hydrant system during the winter months you can simply eliminate ice build up by occasionally drawing large volume of water between 100 to 150 liters which will melt the ice or frost which often builds up inside the riser pipe of a hydrant system. Painting the riser pipe black to attract the suns ray’s or insulating it with an outdoor quality insulation will also help.