Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wall Hydrants

We have a recurring problem with our outside wall hydrants.  This doesn't include the name of the things, which itself took a while to figure out.

What is a wall hydrant?  The thing you attach a garden hose too on your house.  I've learned they are called many different names, such as spigot, faucet, and sillcock.  However, wall hydrant appears to be the name that the manufacturers use more or less consistently.  And that's important when looking for parts.

So what's the problem?  At the end of each season, I shut off the outside water and drain the hydrants and toss the hoses and attachments (I have tried storing these over winter, but they just crack or corrode.  It's not worth it, so I just buy the cheapest hoses each year and I'm done with it.).  We have frost free hydrants, but I still shut them off and leave them open.  When spring rolls around, I turn on the water and attach hoses.  Every single year these things are broken in some way.  Almost always they are leaking and it's usually the gaskets or packing that has to be replaced.  I've been replacing these parts yearly.  This year was no different.

The hardest part is figuring out what you have.  Identifying these things is difficult.  It's also additionally complicated because companies acquire each other and either continue or rebrand existing product lines.  Our house came with Mansfield branded hydrants, which I learned is now part of Prier.  However, Mansfield was popular and established so they still refer to both Mansfield products and part numbers throughout their documentation.  Prier also gives everything their own part number, so it's a mess.

There are some key things to note when trying to identify which hydrant you have:
  • The handle turn.  Quarter, half, full?  Sometimes this is referred to by degrees.  This is a key indicator for the type you have.
  • The stem type.  Take the thing apart and remove the stem.  You should shut off the water unless you want to get drenched doing this.  The supply to the hydrant needs to be off, not just the hydrant itself.  Take a note of what it looks like and the length of the stem.
Prier provides a guide to help you figure this stuff out for Mansfield-style hydrants.

Now, once you've identified it, you need to order parts.  Oddly, the best option I've found is through Amazon.  Failing that, I've gone with Home Depot and I order it.  They never have anything useful in the store.  Don't be fooled by things they have in stock that look like it would work.  Home Depot tends to only stock their house brand merchandise for stuff like this.  Or one specific model, but it's the whole thing.  Prier makes all sorts of parts and repair kits, so you don't need to buy an entire hydrant.

I spent today replacing washers and graphite packing on both of our hydrants only to find the damn things continue leaking.  With no other ideas, I'm going to order replacement stems and just rebuild it from the inside.  The stems we have are pretty corroded anyway.

When winter comes around, I'm going to bag the hydrants in addition to shutting them off.  Actually, I think I'm going to remove the stems and then bag the hydrant.  If that doesn't work, maybe we just won't have outside water.