1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Frozen Nipples!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by split poplar, Jan 6, 2016.

  1. split poplar

    split poplar Out Of The Brooder

    13
    1
    24
    Sep 21, 2015
    Central Virginia
    I thought I had a pretty good system set up for water in the winter. However, the last couple nights have hit the lower teens and I'm concerned and could use some help.

    I have an aquarium heater in the water container and I'm using heat tape for the length of the pvc pipes. I have the nipples screwed into the bottom of the pipe. Everything is staying unfrozen except for the very end of the nipple where the metal piece comes out. It's frozen solid around that and it keeps me from being able to tap them to get water out. Any ideas on how to keep this from happening???

    Thank you for anything you can offer and my apologies if this has been covered elsewhere. A link to more information would be appreciated if needed.
     
  2. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    12,447
    4,631
    416
    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    I'm assuming that you have the vertical nipples if you are using the PVC pipe waterer. I've found that they tend to drip more than the horizontal ones (yes, I use both - vertical for chicks and horizontal for the main waterer) and that little drop on the end is what starts the freezing on the end.

    I don't usually have any issues with the horizontal nipples freezing until we hit somewhere colder than 17 below zero. Then even they freeze.It's not the water in the bucket that freezes - the heater keeps that from happening - just the nipples. So while the coffee is brewing in the morning and we go out to do morning chores, we take a heat gun out with us. Just a few seconds with the heat gun and we're back in business. Sounds like a pain in the hiney, but I'd still rather spend a few minutes out there with the heat gun than haul water out there several times a day when it's that cold!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    As you can see, we actually got icicles going from the nipple to the ground. In this shot the nipple part has been thawed and he was ready to attack the icicle itself. Residual water in the little cup part would freeze, and as it froze it would expand. That pushed the little metal part inward, and released more water which also froze. <sigh>

    This year we've changed things up a bit. We got a different bucket and moved the nipples up so they weren't so low. So far so good, and we've had a few nights of sub-zero temps. I know a lot of other folks are using a system similar to yours with the vertical nipples so I'm hoping they will chime in here as their experience more closely matches yours. But in the meantime, you might pick up an inexpensive heat gun. It takes just seconds to free up each nipple and because they are using it throughout the day you should be okay. It's the overnight hours when they aren't keeping the water moving that tends to be the problem time.
     
  3. 88sub4x4

    88sub4x4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    111
    1
    51
    Apr 10, 2015
    Long Island, NY
    I am using horizontal nipples and have not had any frozen with the past few nights in the low teens and single digits. I also have a fountain pump in my bucket to circulate the heated water. Not sure if that would make a difference or not.
     
  4. split poplar

    split poplar Out Of The Brooder

    13
    1
    24
    Sep 21, 2015
    Central Virginia
    This is good stuff! I already have an extension cord down there so it's not that big a deal. Hadn't thought about that. And you're right, it's fine during the day. Thanks!!

    Any other ideas?
     
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    12,447
    4,631
    416
    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Not from me - that was all I had! [​IMG]
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    30,486
    3,372
    516
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Can you run a small tube from the pump down the pipe to keep warm water circulating in the pipe itself?
    How long is the pipe?
    But vertical nipples are more likely to freeze as the valve is outside the vessel(bucket, jug, pipe, whatever).
    Pics would help.

    ETA: be very careful with a heat gun, especially if you haven't used one before.....they are great fire starters/plastic melters.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016
  7. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    12,447
    4,631
    416
    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Oh, you are so right! I should have added that caveat! Glad you've got my back, @aart !
     
  8. split poplar

    split poplar Out Of The Brooder

    13
    1
    24
    Sep 21, 2015
    Central Virginia
    I'm familiar with them, thanks! I have a heated strip (heat tape whatever) running the length of the pipe. It stays liquid in the pipe, it's just the part that the chickens peck that getting froze up.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    30,486
    3,372
    516
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Switch over to horizontal nipples in the spring.
     
  10. split poplar

    split poplar Out Of The Brooder

    13
    1
    24
    Sep 21, 2015
    Central Virginia
    Wouldn't they have the same problem with freezing right where the water comes out? What makes it a different situation? Maybe the drop of water left over doesn't hang around long enough to freeze or something?

    Thanks!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by