A Guide to Frost-Free Technology

Frost Free Beginnings

How familiar are you with the term – “frost free”?    We’ve all seen frost-free yard hydrants at campgrounds, farms, and private homes.  We know that fire hydrants operate frost-free year-round.  Most of us are familiar with frost-free refrigerator/freezers. But few of us know the beginnings of frost-free water delivery and how has it evolved over the years.

We’ll look back at the origins and explore the newest innovations in frost free technology. From yesterday’s simple uses to today’s advanced refinement, frost-free technology continues to evolve and adapt to our needs.

Fire Fighters First

The whole idea of delivering a steady flow of frost-free water from deep in the ground was first developed for fighting fires.  In the 1600’s, water mains, were made of wood and carried water beneath the street surface for delivery to homes.  Fire fighters were able to access that water by digging into the street above the water main, drilling a hole in the pipe, and siphoning the resulting pond of water with their pumps to spray on the fire. When they were finished, the hole in the wooden water main was plugged – coining the term “fireplug”.

In the early 1800’s the first fire hydrants were put in place in the city of Philadelphia. Having water available from these permanent plumbing fixtures throughout the city proved to be invaluable for fighting fires. Unfortunately, the pipes had water in them at all times and were susceptible to freezing in the winter – they were not frost-free!

In 1838, a Baltimore man named John Jordan received a patent on a design that used an extra valve at the bottom of the pipe, allowing it to drain completely after each use and avoid freezing.  This valve is the innovation that led that way for the frost-free yard hydrants we know today.

In most water hydrants in cold climates, the water stays out of the part of the hydrant we see. It is delivered from below the frostline, where the Earth’s temperature is a fairly steady 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Degrees C). While the temperature above ground can fluctuate drastically, the temperature below the Earth’s surface is constant, so the water never freezes


Frost-Free On The Farm

Fire hydrants were the first to use frost free technology.  Yard hydrants (like the ones you see on farms and ranches) became the next development to be widely adopted.  Fresh, on-demand water that’s available year-round became available to campgrounds, farms, industry and private homes with the advent of frost-free yard hydrants.  Yard hydrants provide a very convenient source of water in places where you may lack easy access, like a large open pasture.

Farmers often use them to water livestock and provide water to fields and holding pens more easily. They’re also convenient in large gardens or lawns that need routine watering. Some homeowners install yard hydrants next to their driveway for easier car washing. A well-placed hydrant also eliminates the need for lugging a garden hose a long way, and it prevents the need to cover large expanses by joining multiple hoses together, which often causes leaks.

Although you may not have given any thought to yard hydrants in the past, you may find yourself wondering how you lived without one once it’s installed.   By having a yard hydrant in many places, it saves you having to lug water long distances from one building to another to get the water to the animals.

Photo credit: John Gallagher

New Innovations

Yard hydrants brought convenient frost-free water delivery to everyone, not just fire fighters. There was only one disadvantage to fire hydrants and yard hydrants: to get fresh Flowing water, the user needs to human.  But horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, alpacas, and llamas need access to fresh water too. Yet they lack the ability to open a yard hydrant and get a drink. That’s why people, for years, have been filling buckets from yard hydrants and hauling water to the livestock.

Yes, frost-free yard hydrants are so useful on the farm!  Now imagine that your animals could drink fresh water from a hydrant without you having to pull the lever for them? This would save you from hauling buckets, cleaning tanks, and monitoring your animal’s water! Water they can access when needed, not when you get the chance to lug a bucket to them. That’s exactly what ranchers in Rye Colorado wondered in the 1970’s. That desire to have fresh water on-demand for livestock year-round is what led to the development of today’s Drinking Post Frost Free Automatic Livestock Waterer. 

Now your animals needn’t wait for you to deliver water – they can get a drink anytime with a Drinking Post.  It’s so easy!  When the animal is thirsty, they will walk up to an empty bowl. They push an easy to operate paddle and water will start to fill the bowl immediately. Then, when they finish drinking, they release the paddle and any water not consumed drains back down below the frostline.

Frost-Free With The Drinking Post

The Drinking Post uses the same concept as frost-free yard hydrants.   Similar to the yard hydrant, all the water remains deep below the frostline until the animal pushes the paddle, calling water to the surface. Then the water drains away again, back below the frostline! Since all the water drains away after each use, there is never any standing water in the unit – and since there’s no standing water, there’s nothing in there to freeze! That’s how we’re able to keep it frost-free year-round without using any electricity.

From yesterday’s simple uses to today’s advanced refinement, frost free technology continues to evolve and adapt to our needs. Won’t you take advantage today of the newest innovation in frost free waterers by adding a Drinking Post to your property?

Thinking about switching to automatic waterers but don’t know where to start? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Automatic Waterers where you’ll learn all about the different types of waterers and the pros and cons of each. You can find the Guide by clicking this link:  https://dpwaterer.com/automatic-waterer-guide/

Have more questions about the Drinking Post itself? Check out our FAQ, here:  https://dpwaterer.com/faq/

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