anyone know about repairing frostfree hydrants?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by patandchickens, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    So since I'm in a question-asking mood (and thanks very much to everyone for the great suggestions on the sonotube-and-high-water-table thread):

    What do y'all know about repairing frostfree hydrants, the kind that go 4' down into the ground with the drainout valve at the bottom so that no water remains in the standpipe when the water's shut off (unless you forgot to detach the hose [​IMG])?

    My situation is this:

    The chickens' building has a slab floor and the hydrant stem goes down into a little hole thru the concrete, barely wider than the pipe. I assume the bottom of the hydrant pipe where it attaches to the water line from the house is roughly 4' down, as that's code (and common sense) in this area and this particular building is built very well and properly (not by me). Problem is, through overuse of disinfectants when it was a kennel and/or the ensuing years of disuse, the top part of the assembly -- the red-painted head and handle -- are totally eaten up with corrosion to the point of nearly falling apart. (the galvanized standpipe is fine). Also the handle sticks very, very badly -- dunno whether it's in the upper part or down at the bottom end of the rod, underground -- and when it can be induced to emit anything, you get a poor flow of very rusty water.

    So if I were ever to try to do something about this -- tho it ain't gonna be this winter -- do I have to break the concrete up around the pipe so I can dig a reasonable hole down there and excavate the whole thing up?

    Or is there (please, please tell me there is!) some way of removing the top of the hydrant, taking off the handle and spout and the long rod thingie that goes down to the bottom, and replacing just that stuff without any actual excavating?


    Pat, with only primitive plumbing skills and never having seen the innards of one of these things.
     
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    I think you can buy just the spigot and handle as replacement parts. Ours screw on to the top of the pipe. Now if it's not draining away and freezing up you'll probably have to dig the whole thing up. I know our drain holes have gotten plugged and then he has to dig it up.
     
  3. ChickenTender63

    ChickenTender63 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very good question Pat.

    I will be installing one here very soon at my place. When they replaced the water line from the spring and well to the house, they did not replace the hydrant. I will take a close look at one of the frost-free hydrants and see if it is repairable like that without busting out the slab and replacing it.

    I know this doesn't help you today unless somebody else knows for sure, but will find out for ya real soon if they don't. It would be really nice to shut the water off, and just replce the head and turn it back on. Thats they way they were before frost free came out, but not sure if the inner piping will come out of the body with the head or not.

    We'll find an answer for you though.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Yeah, I'm not concerned much about whether the drainage bed is clogged -- the chicken bldg stays a lot warmer than my barn, and the barn's frostfree hydrant hasn't drained out since a year or more ago... we have a LOT of pipe insulation wrapped around it, and top it with this weird styrofoam "hat" I rigged up to protect the handle and spout, and I only had to get the hairdryer out for it twice last winter so it's basically been fine. In the warmer chicken bldg, just insulating the heck out of it should suffice, if need be.

    I do need to dig up the barn hydrant sometime, to replace the drainage bed... it's just pavers, it won't be so bad as going thru concrete... but still enough of a job that it's on my "postpone til some other year" list <g>

    Quote:so this is a stupid question, but could you explain how to unscrew the top from the pipe. I am sort of plumbing-impaired, and hate to force things if I don't know I'm forcing them the right way or with the right tools, so feel free to treat me as if I were a total moron, here [​IMG]

    Thanks,

    Pat
     
  5. CrowinKing

    CrowinKing Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If nobody answers this by the time I get home! I'll give you the run down on it! But right now I'm leaving to go find out what the next kid we are having is going to be!
     
  6. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Quote:so this is a stupid question, but could you explain how to unscrew the top from the pipe. I am sort of plumbing-impaired, and hate to force things if I don't know I'm forcing them the right way or with the right tools, so feel free to treat me as if I were a total moron, here [​IMG]

    Thanks,

    Pat

    I think my husband just uses a couple of pipe wrenches to remove it....one to hold the pipe steady and the other to grasp the bottom of the spigot where it attaches to the pipe and turns.
     
  7. adoptedbyachicken

    adoptedbyachicken Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Pat how close are they to the edge or outside of the building? One of ours screwed up and we dug outside the building at that wall then just under a tad to access the bottom. We had no choice mind you, it had a elbow on the bottom and it had cracked so there was water leaking there. So anyway that's how we got to the bottom side, and you can do that to fix the bottom valve and your drainage issue. When we installed ours they had us put an upside down 5 gallon bucket under them with a small hold at the drain for the pipe and we wrapped it in garden cloth so the water always had somewhere to go. This is the way to do it in our very clay type soil apparently.

    As for the top yes they can be replaced but the bottom bits can not from the top. Be sure before you take it apart that you have the right new top, there are many kinds and they are not interchangeable. If your doing the bottom for sure you need to be able to turn the water off in the house before starting, I think for the top you can leave it on if your careful not to disturb the rod, but it would be just better if it has a shut off in the house.

    We have 2 types here and one top comes off with a set screw the other is a threaded deal, with the rod being in the set screw. Adjusting that set screw can change if the pipe drains at the bottom or not so you might want to look into that for your barn tap.

    Good luck.
     
  8. ChickenTender63

    ChickenTender63 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:so this is a stupid question, but could you explain how to unscrew the top from the pipe. I am sort of plumbing-impaired, and hate to force things if I don't know I'm forcing them the right way or with the right tools, so feel free to treat me as if I were a total moron, here [​IMG]

    Thanks,

    Pat

    I think my husband just uses a couple of pipe wrenches to remove it....one to hold the pipe steady and the other to grasp the bottom of the spigot where it attaches to the pipe and turns.

    That is correct. You just need two pipe wrenches Pat, one to hold the pipe coming out of the floor, and the other to turn the head counter clockwise.

    Although I would reccomend you have someone help you. The head is not going to be easy to break loose. Have someone hold the other pipe wrench on the pipe while you try to break the head loose. The pipe may not turn since it is in concrete, but still better to have a wrench to make sure than it is to kink or break the pipe where it attaches to the hydrant under the concrete.
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    ChickenTender63, thanks very much, I will be looking forward to hearing what you find out about it.

    Adoptedbyachicken, that's an interesting thought... this is only about a foot from the front wall, so I could theoretically dig down outside and then over, I suppose, to access the bottom. I would be concerned about weakening the support for the edge of the slab there, though... dunno, have to think about it. Which, if I can't do repairs from the top, I will have plenty of time for since currently the ground is so deeply wet [​IMG]

    (Come to think of it, I wonder whether the chicken building hydrant *ever* drained in winter? It's in an even wetter spot than the barn and it's real hard for me to feature how that could work properly there. Honestly I don't understand how the barn hydrant drains either -- the barn is at nearly the lowest point on the property <mutter mutter mutter> and floods a bit in the spring, but maybe there's enough clay above the bottom of the pipe or something... it's a mystery.)

    Thanks also for the mechanical details, that's a good point that I should see what I can *get* in the way of replacement parts for just the top.

    Katy, I appreciate the additional detail [​IMG]

    and hey, many congrats to CrowinKing [​IMG] (is this the actual event, or an ultrasound? woo hoo either way of course [​IMG])


    Pat
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Cool beans, thanks [​IMG] Call me weird, but I loathe plumbing. Soldering is fine, kinda fun really, but the part where you have to turn things real hard without actually breaking them or making them leak is not my thing at all [​IMG]

    The pipe may not turn since it is in concrete, but still better to have a wrench to make sure than it is to kink or break the pipe where it attaches to the hydrant under the concrete.

    Yup, this is exactly why I appreciate the detailed directions... believe me, I've envisioned the possibility of that happening <vbg>



    Pat, hoping that I can still read the mfr's name with all the corrosion, tho I spose I can always just take a photo and bring it around to stores in person if I really had to​
     

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