Dealing with cold weather water issues.

Here in the Midwest we have suffered our fair share in this bleak artic tundra this year. Ok, its not that bad but it seems to be when your fighting through the snow drifts. This week I tried to help a friend deal with a frozen hydrant on a local acreage. We added hot water and a propane heater to no avail. So this issue I will talk about how to avoid the cold weather blues when dealing with outdoor watering devices including hose bibs.
Water equipment that is designed to withstand the cold will provide a steady flow even in the most extream weather provided a few precautions are taken and the installation is correct. First of all so long as the water is flowing at a reasonable rate it will not freeze within the hydrant or the hose bib. The freeze ups occur when the water is turned off and the piping doesn’t drain completely . These devices have drain back provisions that allow the water in the pipe to drain back to a warm area or in the case of the hose bib to drain outside while the valve is turned off inside the warm part home.
If installed properly these cold weather adapted water supplies should remain frost free all winter long. Some of the common issues with freeze ups in these components are found when the drain back system is hampered. On a hydrant this occurs when the weep hole deep in the ground is plugged or the clay soil around the base becomes saturated. On a hose bib the two most common problems are improper slope of the drain which causes water to stay in the pipe after the hose bib is turned off and when a hose is left on the bib. When the wall can’t drain away quickly after the water is turned off it will freeze. This year alone I have come across at least two homes that were damaged by hose bibs that froze in the winter and split open. In the spring the hose bib is turned on and water begins leaking into the wall without anyone noticing until it comes out on the floor. So make sure the hose bib is sloped downward so the water drains outside and you will save yourself a lot of grief.

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