Using compressed air to help stop hydrants from freezing in winter
by lance wygant
If you have an outside water hydrant that has been installed for many years, and if you have lots of minerals or salts in your water, the weep hole at the bottom of the hydrant will probably plug. You will be fighting the hydrant all year with freeze ups or worst yet it could freeze and burst.
One quick note of personal preference. The hydrants that are stocked by the big box stores are made in China. I farm and raise cattle. We have many hydrants and I will only install the IOWA-Y34 hydrant, manufactured by Woodford, in the good old USA. They last forever. They have a better weep hole setup, and you can rebuild it without digging it up.
Ok,.....back to "Compressed Air"
To help clear this weep hole that is 4 to 6 feet below the ground, I built a 10 foot section of air hose as follows. I install a fitting that has a female garden hose fitting with a hose bard (you can purchase this fitting at a hardware store) at the other end of the hose I used another hose barb and connected a 1/2" ball-valve. I then added a male air hose quick-coupler to the other end of the ball-valve.
In the fall of the year. I either use a portable air compressor or an air tank and go to each hydrant. I attach the hose to
the hydrant. I then lift the hose up and dump some bathroom tub and tile cleaner down the hose (with the ball valve open). I then close the ball-valve and hook-up the hose to the compressed air source via the quick coupler. Then gently release the compressed air via the ball-valve to force the cleaner down the hydrant to clear the weep hole. When the hydrant is shut off, it seals off the fresh water source. So you do not need to worry about forcing the cleaner into the fresh water. Just don't exceed the air pressure applied greater than your water pressure. Once your air tank has lost it pressure and your believe the weep hole is cleared, disconnect everything and turn the hydrant on to flush any cleaner that is left in the hydrant. This is a cheap insurance policy that your water hydrant will not freeze up on you this winter.
The homemade tool cost about $35.00 dollars to make with 1/2" materials. I had most of the parts in the shop, but I have been farming for a long time and I don't throw anything away.
10 ft of 1/2" hose 5.00
Female garden hose fitting with hose barb 7.50
hose barb 2.50
1/2" valve 10.00
air hose quick coupler 3.00
hose clamps & Teflon tape 4.00
Thanks for this, Lance. I hope it comes in handy for folks.