Prier frost-free faucet leaking from handle

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by maddfrog, Jun 29, 2010.

  1. maddfrog

    maddfrog New Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    California
    I recently replaced a frost-free faucet in the garage that was soldered in with a new Prier frost-free threaded model because the old one split over the winter because the hose wasn't disconnected. Since installing it, I've had a small leak that seems to come from behind the handle. I tried tightening the packing nut and I've added graphite packing string to the existing rubber packing, but it still leaked. I swapped the unit out for another one with the same results. I'm fairly sure it's not leaking through the packing around the stem.

    In my frustration, I took the whole thing apart to see how it works with the hope that I could spot the problem. After looking it over thoroughly, I can't understand how it could NOT leak. There's a spring-loaded valve at the base of a hollow stem. If I open the valve handle, that spring loaded valve should pop open as well, which would allow water into the hollow stem. There's a hole punched in the stem about 1/2 an inch from the handle end. If I take the handle off, water seems to come out of that hole, as well as out of the center of the stem itself. What is supposed to stop water from coming up the stem and out of that hole or out from around the set screw for the handle?

    Why is the handle hollow to begin with?
  2. NPMSTR

    NPMSTR In the Trades

    Messages:
    38
    Location:
    Grandview, MO
    Hi!

    When there is positive water pressure, the water pressure pushes the spring closed, preventing water from escaping through the stem. Under a backflow condition, the spring opens and allows water to drain through the stem and out of the hole under the handle. This is a code requirement for ASSE 1019-A.

    One of two things could be happening:

    1. There is some reason why the spring is not closing all the way during positive pressure, it could be any numer of reasons from debris on the seal, to a nicked O-Ring.

    2. If you are using a closed end hose, or some type of irrigation timer, that may be causing the leak. When the valve and hose are pressurized to equal pressure, everything is fine, but if there is a drop in pressure upstream of the valve (someone flushing a toilet, turning on a faucet, etc) the pressure on the downstream side of the backflow preventer will be greater, causing a backflow condition, and allowing the valve to drain through the stem, until the pressure equalizes across the backflow preventor.

    If it is leaking constantly, that is probably number 1. Call Prier at 800-362-1466, explain the situation, and I'm sure they will replace the stem. If it is number 2, the valve is functioning properly.

    Good luck
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,271
    Location:
    New England
    When I was researching these things, I found that Woodford has a couple of models that release the water when you shut off the valve regardless of whether you leave the hose on or not. This seems like a good idea for those that might forget the hose on that early freezing night.
  4. maddfrog

    maddfrog New Member

    Messages:
    37
    Location:
    California
    Thanks for that thorough explanation. I haven't put a hose on it yet. It's not leaking constantly, so I'll have to experiment with it a bit more to see if I can figure out when it 'leaks'. It may be behaving as designed.
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