Help! No running water in barn - frozen pipes? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 80 Old 12-18-2016, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Help! No running water in barn - frozen pipes?

I'm getting desperate and wondering if I'm going to have to haul water to the barn until april... so if you have any ideas, please share!

Two nights ago, it went down to -39 Celcius. I woke up the next morning to find the water in the barn wasn't running. I figured a pipe froze somewhere. Yesterday it was milder (only about -11 C) and today, we got a really warm day, the temps went up to about +5 Celcius. I set up a space heater in the tack room where the water comes in and checked on it throughout the day. There were buckets with ice in them and there was ice on the floor from drips. Everything has thawed out long ago, but not my tap.

The water runs from the house, well below frost line. They dug 6' trenches. It comes out of the ground in the corner of my tack room. The pipes that were put in are made of some kind of material that expands to avoid having burst pipes. Where it comes into the tack room, a wooden box was built and inside, we installed insulation and an outlet for a light bulb. If I put my hand in that box, it's warm. So the only explanation is that the ice blockage is located at or below ground level. My floor is concrete so no digging it up. I know now that I should have put in a frost-free hydrant, but hadn't even heard of such a thing until about two days ago. Not impressed with my plumber right now... he should have known better - he even has horses!

I've already tried the hair dryer trick as well. It didn't do anything, which again, tells me the ice is below ground, where the hot air isn't reaching it.

Tonight, the temps are falling back down to -16 C. So we're heading right back into the deep freeze. If this doesn't thaw now, it may not thaw for months. Obviously, this is something we're going to have to address in the spring, but is there anything else I can do for now?
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post #2 of 80 Old 12-18-2016, 08:45 PM
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if you had ice on the floor from the drips, where were the drips coming from ?
is there a spigot further up on the line that works ? I have only had frozen pipes once, but then again , I am in a warmer climate.
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post #3 of 80 Old 12-18-2016, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by stevenson View Post
if you had ice on the floor from the drips, where were the drips coming from ?
is there a spigot further up on the line that works ? I have only had frozen pipes once, but then again , I am in a warmer climate.
They were old drips from before the pipes froze. Every time I filled a bucket, a few drops would inevitably fall on the floor, forming a thin sheet of ice under the faucet. That is now all liquid, so it's clearly warm enough to melt ice in the tack room.
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post #4 of 80 Old 12-18-2016, 09:07 PM
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I would say that the water is frozen probably just below the ground. If it doesn't thaw anytime soon you can always run a hose from your house to fill water and use heaters to keep it from freezing in the buckets or troughs. I would probably get bigger troughs so you don't have to fill more than once a day. Running a hose out there and then undoing it so it doesn't freeze will be a pain but it beats hauling buckets of water.
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post #5 of 80 Old 12-18-2016, 10:59 PM
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Honestly using a hose when it's 20/30 degrees is doable.

When you get really cold it's not, you definitely reach the point where a drop of water will freeze before it hits the floor sometimes!

Heated hoses are VERY expensive and short.

Unfortunately if it's underground not much you can do.
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post #6 of 80 Old 12-19-2016, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
If this doesn't thaw now, it may not thaw for months. Obviously, this is something we're going to have to address in the spring, but is there anything else I can do for now?
Sadly, there is probably nothing you can do until it thaws short of digging it out. It only takes a little ice to block a pipe/hose and once there is no flow at all you're stuck. I suggest that you leave the faucet open every time you're at your barn to see if you get any flow at all. If you get even a trickle of water, that small flow will eventually thaw the ice in the pipe.

...and yes, I would be VERY upset with my plumber. Even here in NC where the frost depth is only about 6", if you don't have a frost free hydrant, you will have an ice blocked pipe/faucet in your barn when it's very cold.
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post #7 of 80 Old 12-19-2016, 07:26 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PaintHorseMares View Post
Sadly, there is probably nothing you can do until it thaws short of digging it out. It only takes a little ice to block a pipe/hose and once there is no flow at all you're stuck. I suggest that you leave the faucet open every time you're at your barn to see if you get any flow at all. If you get even a trickle of water, that small flow will eventually thaw the ice in the pipe.

...and yes, I would be VERY upset with my plumber. Even here in NC where the frost depth is only about 6", if you don't have a frost free hydrant, you will have an ice blocked pipe/faucet in your barn when it's very cold.
Yes, I am seriously p***ed at him. We just built a brand new barn and took no shortcuts. Spent a fortune on electrical, have a full concrete foundation, dug a 6 ft trench for plumbing and electrical, in other words, we took no shortcuts. Why would he think we would want to take a shortcut with the plumbing? Presumably because he wanted to do it quick and dirty, get paid cash, and get out. I'll be getting someone competent out this spring to see what we can do to fix this.

I am opening the faucet every time I'm at the barn. Last night, I even left the outside faucet on for a couple of hours (it was above freezing for most of the day). Nothing. The ice has to be pretty far down.

I'm thinking of getting a really long expanding hose. I have a 75 ft one so maybe with another 150 ft, it will reach. I can plug it in the the garage and because those hoses are easy to drain and put away, I can just leave it in the garage, which doesn't freeze because there are heaters in there that kick in once things get below freezing. A PIA, but better than what I'm doing now, which is hauling 25 litre jugs out on a sled twice a day. The buckets are heated so I fill them to the brim. I don't like the idea of leaving water in my tack room because the only heat source I have in there is a space heater which I won't leave on unless I'm there to watch. Too much of a fire hazard. Plus, it would be like throwing dollar bills into the snow with our climate.
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post #8 of 80 Old 12-19-2016, 07:26 AM
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Go to Dreamcatcher's #41 post, in your other thread.

How cold is too cold?

Look at the picture she posted of how a frost-free pipe should be installed.

I would bet money there is no pea gravel around the frost free (or not enough), the water froze in the pipe and down where the drain hole is.

As someone mentioned, nothing you can do until a good thaw.

1. Shut the water off to the barn in case something did freeze and crack.

2. If you have a sled of some sort, you're going to have to fill gallon jugs or regular water buckets at the house (use really warm water) and pull it to the barn on the sled.

A 4-wheeled wagon will work or a cart hooked to the 4-wheeler. Don't use the wheel barrow, as it has too much tilt and is too unsteady if you have a lot of snow.

*********
IF you can afford to, you could call in another contractor and have them check your hydrant(s) at the barn but mercy that will be expensive.

For now, you are better off shutting the water off to the barn and carrying water.

If misery loves company, please know there isn't one of us who has lived or still lives in an area where we have dealt with frozen water at the barn. Say a prayer for the folks with large herds of cattle or horses.

The lady who runs another small forum woke up to -30F Sunday, without the windchill. She is in South Dakota. She stays because her farm had been her grandparents.

Long as you shut off the barn water and get up 45 minutes earlier to do "one more thing" before leaving for work, things will work out. Or make the kids get up and help you:)

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post #9 of 80 Old 12-19-2016, 07:42 AM Thread Starter
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Haha, thanks for commiserating walkinthewalk.

I can't see the point of bringing another plumber in at this point. The ground is frozen hard and there is a concrete floor.

The sled has worked best so far. Can't use a wagon or wheelbarrow with snow on the ground. Sure, I could haul it with the four-wheeler and trailer, but I'm only bringing out as much water as can fit in their heated water buckets so it's kind of overkill. There is a very slight downhill grade from the house to the barn so once I have the water loaded onto the cheap, plastic sled, it's easy going. I actually put the jug in the sled empty, and fill it with the hose from the garage. But getting the water from a 25 liter jug into a hanging bucket is another story. I'm going to put out my back lifting those things. Maybe some kind of hand pump? Or pour the water into one bucket, then into the heated buckets. I don't fill the outside water trough anymore since they have access to their stalls and heated water buckets anytime they're out. They stopped drinking the water outside weeks ago, even though I would break the ice every day. They prefer the warm water of their heated buckets. And right now, they are drinking about 40 liters a day between the two of them. I can't even imagine how I would manage if I had a dozen or more horses!!!
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post #10 of 80 Old 12-19-2016, 08:26 AM
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Yes, the sled is your best option.

When I empty the barn buckets, especially the cumbersome heated ones, and they are close to full, I have to pour half of them into another bucket, then carry two half full buckets at a time to keep my shoulders balanced.

You're young and don't think about this BUT, this lugging of heavy stuff does catch up to the back, the shoulders, and sometimes elbows, wrists, knees.

Take the "coward's way out" and empty half the water you haul into another bucket, then lift half a bucket of water.

What we Little Women have in grit and determination, we lack in cubic inches, lollol

Sometimes it seems there is no replacement for cubic inches but that is when we get really crafty and come up with some genius, albeit bizarre, ideas to get the job done, lollollol

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