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How to heat a 100' water hose

 
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I built a high tunnel that I'm keeping chickens and cold crop beds in.  I need to run a hose out to it for watering the chickens, and rarely, the crop beds.  What is the best, affordable way to keep the hose from freezing, so it can be used when needed?  I'm in southern Vermont.  

Heated hoses are really expensive, both in cost and in electric use.  I found inexpensive heating cable for roofs, but they state they shouldn't be used for hoses.  Maybe run the hose through PVC pipe and use that cable with heat tape around the pipe?  Does anyone have any better ideas?
 
master steward
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We have a 100-foot hose that goes out to a tank to water wildlife.

We buried that hose to keep it from freezing.

We have never had a problem even when the temps were minus 5 degrees.

I have also heard that someone could set bales of hay over the hose to keep it from freezing. I have not tried this.
 
Diane Schips
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How deeply did you bury it?
 
master pollinator
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Burial is a good option. It has to be deeper than the frost line, which is different for every area (mine is extreme -- below 6 ft). Your local municipality or a plumber can tell you how deep you need to go.

It's possible to cheat the frost line rule by putting in a shallower trench with a thermal barrier over top the hose (usually closed cell foam insulation).

Consider that even a buried hose is vulnerable at the ends where it enters/leaves the dirt. If you can afford the water, letting it trickle slowly helps prevent freezing.
 
Diane Schips
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Thank you, but I would also need to bury it somewhere from 4-6 feet, and the high tunnel is temporary.  It will be moved next year or the year after.  I was hoping for a solution for this winter.
 
steward
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I drain the hose each time I use it. No water inside means that it can't freeze.
 
rocket scientist
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Hi Diane;
How about blowing it out after use? Gravity draining would be even better.
It is only 100' long. If there were an elevation change from house to hoop would be nice but not required.
I lived in Putney, VT for a few years. Temps are not that severe most of the time.  
I think putting it under straw bales would help if you don't mind the straw being in the way.  
A shallow trench of less than a foot just to keep it out of the way and blow it out after use.
 
Diane Schips
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Interesting idea.  The hoop house is on a hill, so I would have to drain it down toward the spigot, but that's not too bad.  Though there is also a flat run near the spigot.  With large waterers, we can water the chickens once a week or so.  Would this be a problem if there's a lot of snow?
 
master gardener
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How many chickens? If we get a cold snap we actually have to drain our back well. I put a couple of 3 liter jugs in a back pack and one in each hand and take it to the chickens and they're waaaayyyyy further away than 100 feet. Yes, it's not fun, but it gets the job done. In this case, I'm actually usually taking hot water out at bedtime, so that hopefully the chicken's water won't be completely solid in the morning and they can peck through any surface ice. A jug with a lid is way less prone to spilling than an open bucket.

When it's less cold, we do what  Joseph suggested and drain the hose - just make sure you drain it where if it turns to ice, it won't be a slipping hazard! Last time Hubby had to drain the back well tank, he drained it into buckets which worked great! I even got to use two of the buckets to water chickens before the geese discovered them and got the other two filthy! The buckets now have lids to go with!

We've also switched the chickens to rubber buckets as they are much more tolerant of freeze/thaw cycles than most chicken waterers.
 
Diane Schips
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Depending on how many we decide to cull before it gets too cold, we'll probably have about 40.

The problem with carrying water is I have arthritic knees, and the walk is up hill.  
 
pollinator
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Diane, you mention electric tape around your PVC pipes. Does yours have a thermostat?
https://inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Pipe_Heat_Tapes.php#:~:text=If%20your%20building%20plumbing%20pipes,or%20even%20cause%20a%20leak.
If it does, that might be your solution, although they are brutally expensive!
I am lucky that my electricity is about 50 ft away from their waterer, [My house is just over 100 ft away too] so my solution is to use 2-3 Homer buckets [half filled in case it sloshes] and a sled. Once in, I pour the water in their metal waterer  and put it on a heated base that keeps their water from freezing: https://www.farmandfleet.com/products/556796-farm-innovators-electric-water-heater-base.html?blaintm_source=google&blaintm_medium=pla&gclid=Cj0KCQiAyMKbBhD1ARIsANs7rEG6gz4g1r6dcYEv-ZZWFuoQVfYeW-vkgd4OpNl8kQ25OLvGiktIXDUaAtfoEALw_wcB
I wear cheap crampons to help me deal with the slippery path.
https://www.amazon.com/JSHANMEI-Crampon-Gripper-Traction-Serious/dp/B01N95WY5Z/ref=asc_df_B01N95WY5Z/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=317211885802&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4030968654424891257&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9019203&hvtargid=pla-645833353570&psc=1

The base is never hot to the touch, so it is perfect to maintain the water at room temperature. My zone is 4b. Looking at the growing zones in Vermont, they are from 3-5 so not all that different from mine: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/planting-zones/vermont-planting-zones.htm
My knees bother me too and I have to feed them some every day [my chickens, not my knees] but I don't have to go up a hill! I have a snow joe electric snow thrower with which I can keep a path clear. Pulling a child's sled glides real easy on a path.
I am contemplating getting a cheap snowmobile for outside tasks in the winter but I don't have enough pennies yet  ;-)
Especially if you need to start plants, water, weed. That might be another solution.
I like the buried hose covered with hay but yeah, if the setup is only temporary, that may not be worth it. [plus it may freeze where the hose enters and exits the ground]
As a fellow suffered of arthritis, I hope you find an easy solution. I'm with you!
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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If there is heat from chickens and perhaps a compost pile, could you have a water tank or half barrel that you would fill periodically and drain the hose in between?

BTW, rubber hose is a lot more forgiving of a little bit of freezing.
 
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I have to rinse out 55 gallon plastic barrels that I use to transport spent brewers grains. I have to to do this even in the middle of winter in Ohio zone 5b.  It can get really cold. Heck tonight November 13, 2022 it is getting down to 23 degrees F.  I have to have those barrels pretty clean, I use a pressure washer thingy on the end of the hose.    I use a Zero G 35 foot long hose.  It is easy to drain and when it isn't holding water, it weighs under 10 lbs.  I take it into the house when it is freezing at night. I took it in tonight after washing out empty barrels.  I also have  100 foot Zero G hose.  When you drain it out, it doesn't weight very much and is easy to haul around.  So my suggestion would be get some of those light weight hoses, like a Zero G or some of the collapsible hoses that shrink up. Use them to water the chickens and whatever you need to water in your high tunnel and then drain the hose and bring it in to keep ti from freezing.  If you use regular hose, it will be really heavy and make you want to give up.  By the way, I have been using my Zero G hoses for several years now and they are holding up really well. i don't leave them pressurized for long periods of time. I use them then drain them, even in the summer.  

Other than that, I must haul water in buckets or jerry cans or something.  I carry a lot of buckets of water in the winter. I have chickens, horses, pigs, goats, and rabbits. We did trench water lines and put in hydrants. So I put the goat waterers for winter and the horse/steer waterers near a hydrant. I use an short hose (10 feet or less) for those waterers so I don't have to take that hose in at night. I disconnect the hose after use, drain it and all is good. The chickens are not all near the hydrants, so I carry water to them or I can use my electric cart to haul water.

If it gets cold enough that my hydrants aren't working, I either haul water out of the house with  my electric cart or I hook up using my zero g hoses. I can reach 135 feet from the house with the Zero G hoses. It hasn't been cold enough to keep my hydrants from working for about 8 years now and it usually happened when someone forgot to disconnect a hose even if it was a short 10 foot long hose.

I use regular garden hose in a lot of places in the spring summer and fall.  But I certainly appreciate my Zero G light weight hoses especially in the winter.  

I am going to be 59 this year.  So I have to work smarter  

Hope this helps!

Bonnie
 
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Location: Burnsville, United States
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Draining the hose is the best bet. Maybe you could put a barrel or something to hold a lot of water in the hoop house so you wouldn't have to use the hose as often.
 
gardener
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Location: Somewhere about 100 miles north east of Redding California
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How about a tank in the hoop house?  Then put a stock tank water heater in that as needed?  Adds thermal mass, handy to dip from for both chickens and crops.  Once in a while, run the hose to fill the reservoir, draining the hose as others have discussed, as needed.

I am still carrying hot water to my goats in winter, lucky me, no preventing afflictions yet.😊  I carry hot water in 2.5 gallon stainless steel milk cans with lids… one in each hand.  (Easier for me to have a balanced load than the leaning posture and odd gait of the 5 gallon bucket carry).  The hot water melts the ice I break each morning in their 7ish gallon rubber tub. I can set the full cans on top of the wood stove, and get the water to boiling if it’s really cold out.

With 5 goats, they drink more than the daily 5 gallon delivery, and eventually I use the hose to refill their large tubs. What I have noticed, at 6000 feet in western Colorado, is that there are warmer and colder spells throughout the winter.  Usually, I can do the hose work during a warmer spell in the warmest part of the day.  

The same might be true for your location, that with the water tank, you seldom have to deal with the hose, and there might be the occasional day when it was not a major chore.
 
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