A yard hydrant is part of your plumbing that allows you to have water to an outdoor location. “Frost proof hydrant” is just one of the many names used to describe this piece of plumbing, however the name can be a little deceiving. It should be noted that no yard hydrant is completely frost proof. Without proper installation and maintenance, any yard hydrant, or “frost proof” hydrant on the market can freeze and break during the cold winter months. Yard hydrants can be used for a wide variety of activities such as watering livestock on farms, providing water to wash off cars or water gardens.
Frost Proof Hydrant Components
Any yard hydrant or frost proof hydrant has 3 major components: Head, Vertical Pipe and a Valve Assembly.
Yard Hydrant Head
The top casted piece of a yard hydrant can come in many shapes and sizes, yet all serve the same basic purpose. They have a handle that when pulled up, will lift either the rod or the wet pipe (depending on the style of hydrant) allowing water to flow through the valve, up the vertical pipe and out the hydrant head.
The head also has an outlet for water to flow through. Some hydrants will have this outlet threaded so that a garden hose or other attachment can be hooked up others and some hydrant will have just a smooth outlet. This is something to look out for when selecting a hydrant for your home or farm.
The last thing that you will find on all hydrant heads is a way to make adjustments to the hydrant. Some hydrants will have flow controls that can be set so you can find the ideal flow of water. Once you have it adjusted, you can keep that as a preset on your hydrant. Many have a packing nut that can be adjusted if the rod in the hydrant comes out of alignment. If there is a small amount of leaking or dripping, you can often adjust the packing nut to alleviate that issue. These features will vary across brands.
The vertical pipe coming up out of the ground and the cast piece that makes up the “head” of the hydrant, should stand empty when the water is turned off. This standpipe is most often made of galvanized steel. There are specialty hydrants that have pipes made from brass or stainless steel, however these will cost significantly more. It’s usually not worth the extra cost to buy a specialty hydrant, unless you have corrosive water or soils.
There are two basic styles of valves, O-rings and plungers. Some manufacturers opt for a series of 2 or 3 O-rings that when seated into place will shut the water off. The more common approach is to use a rubber plunger attached to a rod to plug off the incoming water.
The hydrant brands that use an O-ring style setup tend to have a little bit better flow through the hydrant. However, the O-rings wear out much faster than plungers and are harder to replace. O-rings can rip and tear. They sometimes end up stuck down in the valve body, making it impossible to install new ones. The styles that use the plunger are less likely to have the entire plunger piece stuck down at the bottom when trying to repair. This style is generally equipped with a steel rod that goes down and attaches to the plunger. Over time these rods can fail due to corrosion.
Proper Frost Proof Hydrant Install
A properly installed frost proof hydrant should have the base of the hydrant lower than the frost point. This is to ensure when the water is shut off after use, water can drain back into the ground below the frost, to prevent potentially freezing and breaking of the hydrant.
Frost points can vary from region to region. In Southern Minnesota, the frost point is 6 feet.
As you would expect, repair of a frozen or broken yard hydrant isn’t easy, and it can also be costly. Paying a professional to dig up and replace your frost proof hydrant can be extremely expensive. Doing it yourself can save you some money, but more problems can occur if the install isn’t done correctly. This can leave you with an even bigger mess.
There is one way to ensure that you can easily repair and replace your hydrant when it breaks – install a Hydrant Assist Kit. A Hydrant Assist Kit is a simple, but effective system that takes your yard hydrant to the next level. It does two amazing things. It extends the life of your hydrant by removing the soil contact from the vertical pipe. And it allows you to repair or replace the hydrant from the surface in seconds without needing to dig. This simple kit can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars and hours of your time.
Thinking about installing a hydrant, or are simply repairing or replacing your old hydrant? Check out our “All About the HAK” page to find out more about how to upgrade your hydrant!