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PLEASE HELP-Frost-Free Hydrant Problem

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

My husband and I recently moved to a new home, and we are lucky to have a barn with an outdoor frost free hydrant.  When we did the home inspection late last fall the hydrant was working.  After we moved in we found the handle removed.  My husband put the handle back on, but when it is lifted it there is no flow.  Whether in the on or off position, there is some dripping.  We had a plumber doing some other work here and asked him about the problem, and he wondered if there was some shut-off valve that we don't know about.  I contacted the seller of the home and she indicated that the only shut off she knows about is in the basement.  This hydrant uses the same well as the house, if it froze and busted a pipe during the winter, wouldn't we hear our well pump going a lot more and see water start to come up to the surface or something.  I called the plumber again, and his proposed solution was to dig it up and replace it. 

I have been doing some research on line, and there is info on replacing gaskets http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_7150482_replace-seals-gaskets-frost_free-hydrants.html and on adjusting the set scew at the top http://www.ehow.com/how_8015085_adjust-simmons-frostfree-hydrant.htmlscrew

It seems like it is worth exploring these solutions before digging up the whole hydrant.  I can't figure out what it really needs.  WHAT IS STRANGE IS THAT THERE IS NO RESISTANCE ON THE HANDLE, LIKE IT IS NOT ENGAGING THE PLUNGER OR RUBBER SEAT THAT CLOSES OFF THE VALVE AT THE BOTTOM.

I suppose since it is dripping, I would at the very least need to get a repair kit that replaces the rubber plunger at the bottom.  I just don't want to dig it up if it doesn't need it.  Oh how I wish I knew a good handy man in the area.

My feathered friends and I would greatly appreciate any advice.


Edited by scratch'n'peck - 10/10/11 at 9:20am

CHICKENS:to name just a few cochin, orpington,  OEG  also have: mute swans, geese, and cats
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post #2 of 17

I had my DH (who is a plumber) read your post.  He suggested turning the water off at the house and disassembling the hydrant, because to him it sounds like the linkage is not hooked up (could be at the top or bottom).  If you're not comfortable doing that, I would suggest checking with a different plumber or a well driller (they install these type of hydrants all the time).  Your plumber does not sound particularly helpful in this situation.

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post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you for responding, and thank your husband for his expert consultation.  I'm guessing the linkage is the mechanism that lifts and depresses the plunger against the valve.  The advise definitely gives me some direction.

CHICKENS:to name just a few cochin, orpington,  OEG  also have: mute swans, geese, and cats
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CHICKENS:to name just a few cochin, orpington,  OEG  also have: mute swans, geese, and cats
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post #4 of 17

Turn off the water at the house.  Sounds like it might be missing some bits. Can you post a picture? Maybe when the handle was taken off, there might have been some other pieces taken off as well. You may not realize they are missing or maybe its just a nut that needs adjusting.

If someone tried taking the head off (why else would the handle be off?) they might not have kept the pipe from turning in the ground and things may have become disconnected. If this is the case, you are into digging a big deep hole to replace/rescrew the whole shebang which ever is needed.  I am no expert, but I had 2 of these things with broken nozzles and various people told me to keep the pipe from moving when I was asking how to replace the head assembly.  This is unlikely though since your pump would be running as you suspect.

I think something is missing on the head. The whole thing is really just a plunger on the end of a long rod that goes up and down/in and out of a hole down at the bottom when you lift the handle up and down.  The linkage refered to in another post is right there on the head in plain veiw. I have Merrick brand so I don't know if yours works the same.

You should be able to order any missing parts through the manufacturer, I got mine through my local fence supply store. I had to replace the plunger rod because of stripped threads and the head on one (so I know what it looks like inside) and just the head on another  I used my old handle/linkage plates on that one and saved a few pennies. Its really not hard to do yourself.


Edited by eggbuster - 10/4/11 at 10:41pm
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input, Eggbuster.  As I have been trying to figure out this pump, I realized that resistance on the handle is not totally absent, rather it seem to be a lot less than the other pump near the house.  Actually, now that I have been lifting the handle on it more often while I have been looking at it, I have noticed that the dripping rate increases more and more when I continue to lift the handle.  I did read on line where some people had sediment collect at the bottom of the pipe and solved the problem by using an air compressor or another hose to dislodge the sediment.  Our untreated water does have quite a bit of sulfur and iron, so I suppose with the valve being closed a long time some sludge and sediment could be blocking it.  I looked at diagrams of hydrants on line, and the linkage at the top seems to be intact.

CHICKENS:to name just a few cochin, orpington,  OEG  also have: mute swans, geese, and cats
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CHICKENS:to name just a few cochin, orpington,  OEG  also have: mute swans, geese, and cats
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post #6 of 17

Is it dripping from the nozzle or from around the plunger rod?  Try adjusting the bottom most nut below the handle. It sets the depth of the plunger/plug. It may be that the plug at the bottom of the pipe is not seating properly. It may also be that the rubber plug on the end of the plunger rod is old and hardened and needs to be replaced. To do that unscrew the head from the pipe and pull everything out as one piece. One person uses a pipe wrench to hold the pipe from unscrewing and the other uses a pipe wrench to turn the head. Use a blow torch to bust the rust or you won't get it off.

If you think you have to replace a bunch of parts, its actually cheaper, at least in my case, to buy the whole hydrant galvanized pipe and all. Don't change the pipe because you don't want to dig, but put everything else in new and save the pipe for something else.

It seems stupid, but it was cheaper then buying  just a replacement head with no handle or anything.

post #7 of 17

We had the same exact thing happen at my parents when I was a kid. It didn't have a set screw so I drilled and tapped a hole to put one on it.

When you lift the handle does the rod that goes down into the pipe pull up? That is the first place to start. If it doesn't then it could be like I saw at my parents.

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post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eggbuster 

Is it dripping from the nozzle or from around the plunger rod?  Try adjusting the bottom most nut below the handle. It sets the depth of the plunger/plug. It may be that the plug at the bottom of the pipe is not seating properly. It may also be that the rubber plug on the end of the plunger rod is old and hardened and needs to be replaced. To do that unscrew the head from the pipe and pull everything out as one piece. One person uses a pipe wrench to hold the pipe from unscrewing and the other uses a pipe wrench to turn the head. Use a blow torch to bust the rust or you won't get it off.

If you think you have to replace a bunch of parts, its actually cheaper, at least in my case, to buy the whole hydrant galvanized pipe and all. Don't change the pipe because you don't want to dig, but put everything else in new and save the pipe for something else.

It seems stupid, but it was cheaper then buying  just a replacement head with no handle or anything.


Thanks for checking back, I was worried when I first posted that no one would respond.

It is dripping from the nozzle.  My first challenge is getting a decent flow when the handle is up.  I probably should unscrew the head and pull the plunger out before I try to use the air compressor to hopefully clear the line.  The blow torch may be the one tool we don't have.  I saw a how-to video of someone use the blow torch just like you described.  I can't seem to find the brand name on the hydrant, but it looks like the photos of Simons hydrants with the blue head that I saw on Amazon.  I bet I will need to change the plunger at least.

CHICKENS:to name just a few cochin, orpington,  OEG  also have: mute swans, geese, and cats
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  SEE MY  CHICKEN PAGE for even more photos

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CHICKENS:to name just a few cochin, orpington,  OEG  also have: mute swans, geese, and cats
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  SEE MY  CHICKEN PAGE for even more photos

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post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bakerjw 

We had the same exact thing happen at my parents when I was a kid. It didn't have a set screw so I drilled and tapped a hole to put one on it.

When you lift the handle does the rod that goes down into the pipe pull up? That is the first place to start. If it doesn't then it could be like I saw at my parents.


The more I play around with the hydrant, the more I think the handle does pull up the rod at least some.  The dripping rate increases when I lift the handle.  It looks like there is a set screw, so that may need some adjusting.  It would be nice if just adjusting the set screw would bring the flow to normal rather than just a trickle when I lift the handle.

CHICKENS:to name just a few cochin, orpington,  OEG  also have: mute swans, geese, and cats
  SEE MY BYC PAGE  for photos 

  SEE MY  CHICKEN PAGE for even more photos

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CHICKENS:to name just a few cochin, orpington,  OEG  also have: mute swans, geese, and cats
  SEE MY BYC PAGE  for photos 

  SEE MY  CHICKEN PAGE for even more photos

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post #10 of 17

Looked up the Simmons and although its a bit different looking than a Merrick, it looks as though they work the same way. Merrick have the brand cast into the head itself.

You can rent a blow torch (hand held propane torch) if you don't want to buy one. I would buy one, because even though they are frost free, the handles/nozzle can freeze up during cold weather, usually freezing rain is a problem as well. A self ingniting torch will be handy right about then but a hair dryer and an extension cord will work as well. Also a good idea to keep a small plastic bucket inverted over the hydrant to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Do not leave a hose connected during cold weather as it will cause the hydrant to freeze. If you use a quick connect for your hose, unscrew the connecter from the faucet, as it is very narrow and will freeze up from just the little water left when you turn off the hydrant. Since they are plastic, you will have to go dunk it in hot water but not before you have a panic attack about why there is no water coming out.

I have learned a lot about hydrants in the Idiot School of Hard Knocks.


Edited by eggbuster - 10/7/11 at 10:27am
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