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Thread: Frost Free Spigot

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    DKAudio is offline Journeyman
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    Frost Free Spigot

    I want to sheetrock my living room ceiling in the basement. My front outside water line goes through this room. It is well water for outside and the lines are old (house built 1954) steel not copper. I have a spigot inside to shut it off durring winter (Minnesota). I want to replace it with a frost free spigot so I don't have to shut it off inside when the cold comes. That way I can completely sheetrock and not need an access panel for the inside spigot. The inside spigot is probably about 3 feet from the outside one. I want to eliminate the inside spigot so there is less chance of leaking, etc. The longest frost free spigot I have seen is 12". Any ideas on what to do? Also, how do I work with steel plumbing? I have only done copper with solder. The frost free spigots are chrome colored so I don't know what to do there either. Finally, the pipes have a black coating on it to prevent condesation, it stays soft but is hard to move. Do you think I should just replace the whole area that will be sheetrocked with copper? If that is the case I would still need to connect the copper to steel in the adjasent room. Thanks for the help.

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    First of all it must be firmly understood that “Frost Proof” is not “Freeze Proof”.

    Frost proof hydrants will withstand subfreezing temperatures for a short period of time such as climates where they get the occasional overnight freeze but they will not withstand sub-freezing temperatures for a long duration and they definitely will not withstand the extended sub-zero temperatures of the Minnesota winters.

    The only truly reliable method of preventing the line from freezing in your climate is to install a line stop valve at least 3’ inside the structure to allow draining the standing water out of the last section of pipe. The problem here is that installing such a valve 3’ inside the structure would require leaving an access in your finished ceiling however there is a simple alternative.

    You presently have galvanized iron pipe, which requires NPT (National Pipe Taper) threaded joints. While the pipe could be cut and rethreaded at any convenient point pipe threading equipment is relatively expensive and generally not readily available to the homeowner. You could rent a set of pipe threading dies but the simpler solution would be to cut the pipe then unscrew the threaded joints back to a convenient location in the adjacent room. You will need two pipe wrenches to unscrew the pipe joints. One wrench is used to hold the existing pipe steady while the second wrench is used to turn the section you desire to turn.

    In order to prevent electrolysis corrosion the Plumbing Codes expressly prohibit directly coupling copper to iron pipe or vessels. To make the transition from iron pipe to copper pipe we are required to use a “Dielectric Nipple’, “Dielectric Union” or a 6” hardened bronze nipple.

    Begin by turning your water off.
    Next locate a joint in the adjacent room where it would be convenient to make the transition from iron pipe to copper and cut the pipe on the upstream side of the joint leaving a short stub (6” to 12”) of the pipe extending out of the coupling. Hold the coupling firm with one wrench while you unscrew the stub with a second wrench. You can then remove the pipe from this point to the outside faucet, or you could elect to just abandon it in place, whichever is convenient and desirable.

    Select a 6” hardened bronze pipe nipple and apply some pipe dope to the male threads on one end of he nipple. Now screw the nipple into the coupling and tighten it firmly in place. Next apply some pipe dope to the male threads on the opposite end of the nipple and screw a “line stop & waste ball valve” on the nipple. A line stop & waste ball valve appears like an ordinary ball valve except it has a small bleed cap to permit draining excess water from the upstream side of the valve. Be careful when installing these valves because they are directional. If you put it in the wrong way the bleed port would be on the pressure side of the valve when it’s turned off. Look for the directional arrow on the body of the valve. The arrow should point towards the outside faucet end of the line.

    Once you have the valve installed you can then solder a “male thread adapter” on the end of a piece of copper pipe, then apply pipe dope on the threads and screw the copper into the output of the valve. Continue running copper until you reach the outdoor end where you can install a common “Sillcock valve” The last 4 or 5’ of the copper pipe should be pitched downward at about ¼” per foot toward the outside.

    With this configuration you will be able to turn the water off in the adjacent room, then open the outside faucet to drain the residual water out of the line. Opening the waste port on the stop * waste valve will allow air to enter the pipe to vent it thus aiding in draining the line. During winter months the outside faucet should be left open. This would allow any water that may seep past the stop & waste valve to drain out thus preventing the line from freezing.

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    DKAudio is offline Journeyman
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    Wow, thank you very much.
    So should I leave the drain open durring the winter as well?
    I have never installed an outside spigot. If I run the copper all the way to the outside, how do I then attach the outside spigot? Should I put on those black foam pipe insulators around the pipe before sheetrocking or do I not have to worry about it since it is exterior cold well water? Thanks again, I really appreciate this help.

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    DKAudio is offline Journeyman
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    ok, after inspecting the basement I got a new idea. I want to eliminate the well and just put city water. That way I know it is clean enough to wash my car, etc. I will leave the backyard well water. The main line from the city/water meter is hidden in a cabinet built around it. The well line is running parallel with the city line only one joist over. I was thinking I would start new and put in a new spigot, and tee it off the city line. The line is must be 3/4" because the OD is .88"
    What parts should I get now? I tried to make a diagram. It is from the side view

    This way I can get rid of the ugly black tar line running from the well (back of the house) to the spigot in the front. How would I got about capping off that line and getting rid of it so it just goes to the back? I tried getting some of that tar off but I couldn't, it dried hard almost like a spray in bedliner does. I know that city water is expensive but the electricity to run the 220V pump isn't cheap either. Thanks


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    If the outside diameter of the iron pipe measures .88" it is a 1/2" pipe.

    The actual dimension of 1/2" iron pipe is"
    O.D....... 0.840"
    I.D. ...... 0.622"
    Wall Thickness 0.109"
    i/2" iron pipe threads are 14 TPI (turns per inch)

    Although you got a measurement that is 0.040" larger we must also keep in mind that the actual dimensions of pipe are computed before the galvanized coating is applied thus your measured difference of 0.040" reflects both the thickness of the galvanized coating and the black coating.

    The black coating you see on your pipe is most likely a factory applied tar based material that is applied to pipe intended for direct burial to prevent corrosion. (factory wrapped pipe is required for buried gas lines).

    In all probablility they originally used the factory coated pipe for the underground run from the well to the structure and continued with the same material when they arrived at the house.

    Keep in mind that whether your cold water is originating from a well or a municipal water main the water temperature will be approximately the same as the ground temperature at the burial level. Code requires that water lines must be buried 6" below the average frost depth to prevent freezing. This means that the average incoming water temperature of cold water in mid summer will normally be approximately the same as the earths Geothermal crust temperture of 50 to 55degF however in winter as frost enters the surface soil the average temperatures at the pipe burial level may drop to 34 to 40degF. (in southern climates where they have no appreciable frost to be concerned with the minimum pipe burial is only 12" and often during mid summer their soil temps at the pipe level may be 70 to 80degF.)

    When you watch your weather report on TV they always show the High, Low and current temperature readings to be expected. They also show the "Dew Point" temperature. For the purpose of weather we use the "dew Point" temperature to indicate the likelihood of rain, but in fact, dew point reflects the temperature at which condensation will occur whether that condensation is in the form of rain, snow, dew or fog. Any time we are running a cold water pipe through a ceiling which could be damaged by water it is advisable to insulate that pipe, otherwise as the cold water flows through the pipe the pipe wall will fall below the "Dew Point" temperature and condensation will occur on the outside of the pipe causing moisture to drip down on the ceiling material.

    Now in regards to you concern about the cost of operating the 220v pump.

    746 watts of electrical energy equals 1 horse power.

    The formula for computing watts is:
    P= E x I
    Where:
    P= power -expressed in watts
    E = Electromotive force expressed in VOLTS
    I = Inductive force expressed in AMPS

    If P= E x I we could then say that I = P/E

    Thus a one horsepower motor driven with 220volts would draw 746w/220v =3.39amps while a one horsepower motor driven by 120 volts would draw 746w/120v=6.21A and a one horsepower battery backup pump working on a 12 volt auto battery would draw 746w/12v= 62A. (technically speaking AC power is only .707x the potential of the DC from the battery, but for the purpose of illustration let us say that one horsepower remains one horsepower no matter what voltage we supply to the motor.

    We purchase power from the electrical utility company in Kilowatt hours (Kw/Hrs) which is the equivalent of using 1000watts for a period of one hour.

    A one horsepower motor draws 746watts of electrical energy so if we run a one horsepower motor for a period of one hour we consume 746/1000 of a Kw/hr or 0.746kw/hrs.

    My local electrical utility company charges a rate of $.10 per Kw/hr so we could then say it would cost me $0.746 per hour to operate a one horsepower pump.

    Typically a one horsepower well pump will pump approximately 24gal/min.
    24gpn x 60min = 1440gallon per hour.

    A Three bedroom structure with a family of 5 will typically consume 350gal of water per day which means in theory for 7.5 cents I could pump as much water as I purchase from the water utility company in 4 days. With these facts in mind personally I would strongly reconsider switching to municipal water to wash the car, hose the driveway or water the flower beds..

    If you feel the black coating on that pipe is ugly why not consider covering it with insulation?
    Last edited by LazyPup; 02-02-2007 at 11:50 PM.

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    DKAudio is offline Journeyman
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    I think you misunderstood me in some parts...
    I want to take out the well line going to the front and switch to city. I can then eliminate that well line altogether. I already tore out most of it last night. The .88" I measured was not well, it was the copper pipe from the city (main inlet to my house). I want to T it off that and bring it outside, the total length would be very small, maybe 3-4'. Like I said before the outside spigot location is only one joist over from the city line. I can then run copper and insulate it, etc. Another reason that I want to switch is because I am in a city where wells are not used anymore. Most of the houses around me (1950s neighborhood) were forced to cap the wells and run new copper lines using city water. I am afraid that they are going to make me do that when I sell the house in a few years. My well also has pretty weak presure and turns on very often. I posted about this last summer. The tank is NOT waterlogged. My pressure gauge reads 80 peak PSI which should be enough, it drops to 60 and the contactor kicks back on for the pump. I have my degree in electronics and work with HV too. I have completely rewired my house from the breaker on bringing the house to code. The old wiring was an aluminum copper clad. I checked everything I could think of for the well and it still acts the same. I am still keeping well for the back outside spigot because that area will not be finished off. I just don't want to sell my house and have the inspector come in and say because of local codes you have to cap the well, switch to city, and switch from the steel pipes to copper. That means I would have to tear the whole end of my downstairs living room apart, this is the room I am going to sheetrock.

    Anyways, I know that 3/4" copper tubing has an OD of 7/8"=.875, close to the .88 I measured. So this is 3/4", right? Should I get a T that is 3/4" to 1/2"? What kind of drain/shut off spigot should I get that will be located inside? I can stick it in the cabinet so I can still shut off the outside from the inside durring the winter. Or would you reccomend a frost free? If not, what kind of outside spigot do you recommend? I pretty much want to know everything I need from the T on. Thank you.
    Last edited by DKAudio; 02-03-2007 at 08:35 AM.

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    There are a number of questions here so let us take them one at a time.

    WATER LINE: begin with a ¾ x ¾ x ½ Tee then stub a short length into the next joist bay where you install a 90 elbow. Next install a stop valve then continue the line out to a hose bibb. With the valve turned off and the exterior faucet left open there would be no water in the line so there would be no advantage of using a frost proof hydrant. An ordinary sillcock valve will do fine.

    DRAIN: Normally an outside faucet does not have a drain and you didn’t give any specific details however there is one fact that remains firm. Code prohibits installing a valve on a drain line and even if such a valve we permitted in this case it would prove counter productive. This is an outdoor faucet therefore any water entering the associated drain is also outside. If we were to install a valve on the drain the water would then be trapped in the section of the line that is exposed to freezing which would result in damaging the line.
    If this faucet is in conjunction with an outdoor sink with a standard P-trap the winterizing solution would be to remove the P-trap and plug the line with a test plug to prevent sewer gasses from escaping. In spring when you turn the water on you could then quickly remove the plug and re-connect the P-trap. If the drain is underground where it cannot be removed you could pour some food grade anti-freeze in the trap to protect the trap from freezing.

    GALVANIZED IRON PIPE: You need not worry about an inspector telling you that you would need to switch from galvanized iron pipe to copper because galvanized iron pipe is still listed by all national codes as suitable for new construction.

    CAPPING THE WELL: Contrary to public opinion the Plumbing Codes are not specifically building codes but rather they are health codes designed to insure the continued safety of the public water supply. To that end the codes devote great attention to insure there is no cross contamination between potable water and non-potable water. When a structure that is currently serviced by a home well of unknown quality is connected to the public water supply the code states that the home well source must be completely disconnected before the municipal source can be connected, but it does not say that home well must be capped and abandoned. In fact, the codes outline a procedure whereby the home well can be continued to provide a source of non-potable water for irrigation or non-potable process/utility water for such things as providing water for livestock that are not intended for the food chain, HVAC systems or hosing down the driveway. Whenever a non-potable water source is present there can be absolutely no connection between the potable and non-potable water systems and all piping used to convey the non-potable water is to be painted bright yellow and where practical it should be labeled “Non-Potable”

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    DKAudio is offline Journeyman
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    I did what you said. I installed a drain type gate valve (the normal ones you do for inside spigot to turn off outside water durring the winter). I installed this off the 3/4" 3/4" 1/2" T.

    I have tried 3 times to install this. I have never sweated fittings before. I clean with a wire brush made for it, flux the pipe, use a mapp (tried propane too) heat the pipe until it is hot enough to melt the solder without the torch. I always get one joint that leaks. I try to reheat, try, try...I then ruin the pipe by heating it too much. I cut it out, put in a coupler and a length of 3/4" and start over...I am so pissed, I have tried for 6 hours, have no water in the house, etc. I am have a friend come over tomorrow and see if he can do it. At this point I never want to try sweating fittings again. I solder low voltage (with iron) for my job and am great at it. A problem might be that I can't really see on the back side of the pipe because the wall is there. I am very frustrated. This is the first thing that I have run into that I cannot really do, my confidense is down.

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    DKAudio is offline Journeyman
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    Ok, well my confidense is back up. The flux that was included in my kit was a very thin white kind. I noticed that the solder wasen't sucking in good. I then opened another one that I bought and it was hard and green. I used that and soldering was easy! The soldered flowed great and was sucked into the copper. I finished and everything is holding fine. I know it will be more expensive but at least I know I will never have to redo that area and I have clean water that I can drink and water my cars with in the front. Thanks

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