DIY Water Lines: Water Hydrants Where You Need Them
By Mary carton
The weather radio woke me up at 4:30 AM, I turned my TV on to WAAY Ch31 in Huntsville, no Erin, TW or Gary. I thought they must have gone back to starting 5 AM now instead of 4:30, so I turned off the TV and rolled over for 15 more minutes until my alarm went off. At 5:30 AM the storm woke me up & I made a mad dash to get ready as I was running late for work. I turned the TV back on and telemarketer was still on. I looked at my alarm clock, and the alarm light was off. It finally hit me it was Saturday and I was off. I turned in 1.74 inches of rain to Cocorahs Saturday afternoon. Later that night we had more rain and I could hear hail pounding on the sky lights. Each time we have a storm like that I worry about the glass shattering. The hooligans stayed out in the rain most of the day and came into the garage during the heavier downpours. Levi has this annoying habit of rubbing himself on me every time he sees me. Whatever he had rolled in was very aromatic.
As one who had back surgery and a knee replacement at a young age, I found it very tiring dragging around very long lengths of hose to water plants away from the house. I first used this system at my last house in Muscle Shoals City when I had my raised bed garden at the end of the house opposite the faucet. After building on my 3 acres I installed the system at this house. One mistake that I made is using half inch lines. With three and a half acres I should have used 3/4 inch lines. You loose a lot of pressure with a long system like I have if you have more than one faucet on. This system can only be used during the summer. When freezing weather starts, you need to disconnect the line from the faucet on the side of the house and open all faucets along the lines.
Start with high pressure black water line plastic pipe. Do not use the thinner soaker line black pipe. Attach to the house with a heavy duty screw on fitting. I use a hundred foot roll and put a faucet fitting between the first and next roll so that by using a 50 foot hose you can reach the area between the two. You can get the pipe in longer or shorter lengths. There are in line faucets, Y, corner and end fittings with a faucet end, but I found these end pieces to be fragile and usually use a 90 degree metal fitting at the end of the line with a faucet. You can use the T’s or Y fitting to branch off to different areas of the garden. The ninety degree angle fittings are useful to go around corners. Also helpful will be to have some in line straight fittings to fix cut. It never fails, I stick a shovel in the ground and I cut the only line in an acre. In lawn areas I have the line an inch or 2 under the ground. Also helpful in a large garden is cut offs. If you have a damaged line to one area you can cut off that line until repairs are made while still using the other areas. You will need lengths of PCV pipe or metal pipe and hydrants in the same size as the water line pipe. All of the fittings need to be the same size as the water line pipe. You might want to use the metal pipe in areas where you’ll be using a weed eater as you will see in one of my pictures where I got too close with” Big Berta” my walk behind weed eater. A weed eater will snap them off in a flash.
First you need a hydrant fitting to attach the line to a faucet similar to one in the picture. Run the pipe to your first spot you need a faucet, cut the pipe if needed, be sure to put a radiator clamp on first before putting in the faucet fitting or else you’ll have to take the radiator clamp apart. Putting Vaseline on the fitting and placing the end of the pipe in hot water for a minute or so makes it easier to put the fitting on the pipe. On the other side before attaching the next length of pipe place another radiator clamp and slide the pipe on the fitting. Screw in a faucet assembly using Teflon tape on the threads for a better water seal and continue on. I use a 24 or 36 inch length of rebar driven in the ground next to the faucet and use a plastic electrical tie or recycled wire to attach the pipe to the rebar to add stability. You can buy the rebar in these lengths in the concrete section of your local hardware store.
One hint about running the line through lawn areas, do it before the grass grows thick and after a rain. Use a flat blade hoe and stab it in the ground and rock back and forth and continue until the trench is open. Take the pipe and push it into your trench. In the bottom field I have the luxury of using a middle buster that I bought to install the wiring for my underground fence to keep the dogs in. While I had the trench open along the creek, I ran the water line pipe next to the wire. I found an old kitchen sink that some one had thrown out and made a frame for it along the side of my garden. I use it to wash off my veggies before bringing them into the house. I’m a little embarrassed to show that picture. After you have all the lines in, tightened up all of your radiator clamps, turn on the water and check for leaks, and then bury where needed.
I can’t stress enough to disconnect the line from the house when cold weather hits and open all faucets along the lines. I had one PCV pipe with a faucet that I missed this past winter and the PCV pipe leading to the faucet shattered big time. I don’t recommend using lengths of PCV pipe instead of the plastic tubing. It gets brittle and after the first year of being out in the sun and will break when stepped on or driven over.
One nice thing about this system, you can take it apart easily and run it else if needed and you won’t have to haul several lengths of long heavy hoses around.
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