Freezing

Are these frost-free fountains? background Layer 1

This is one of the most frequent questions that we hear about poly units. All Ritchie fountains are frost free with the use of a heat system. We interpret frost free to mean energy free, which we then again translate to electric free. There is a misconception that because it is made of plastic it is electric free.

Do they freeze? background Layer 1

With correct installation, and assuming that the electricity is operating, the answer is no. If a Ritchie fountain is frozen, it is because something is defective, a poor installation, or the application is not correct. The most common cause of freezing is a heater that has burned out, or a thermostat that has failed. If it is a Thrifty King CT unit that is being used without heat, it can be a poor installation that is allowing cold air to get underneath the unit, incoming water that is below 42 degrees, or not meeting the minimum head requirements for using these units. A majority of the time when a unit is not working in cold weather, it is at the valve. The supply line touching the side of the riser tube, which causes the water to slush up and not go through the valve, usually causes this. This is seldom a problem and will not happen with correct installation.  

Why are the balls frozen on my CT unit in the morning? background Layer 1

Ground heat will not keep a livestock fountain from freezing, as many of our competitors would like people to believe. This was proven during the testing performed at Iowa State University to develop the thermal tube. We recommend Ritchie thermal tubes for all installations. Thermal tubes interrupt the frost line and create an airspace around the water line. The airspace around the water line actually gets some warmth from the water that is coming up through the water line. This airspace keeps the water line from freezing. At the frost line, the air temperature around the pipe is above freezing. As you move closer to the side of the thermal tube, the air will be gradually colder and will be freezing at the side of the thermal tube. That is why the water supply line should not touch the side of the thermal tube. With no water running through the pipe the air temperature inside the thermal tube will eventually be the same temperature as the ground outside the thermal tube. This is the same principle as a thermos of coffee. In most cases, all Ritchie fountains, except Thrifty King CT units used in a correct application, will require a heating system to prevent freezing.

At what temperature will this freeze? background Layer 1

Technically, an unheated fountain will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of time that it will take to freeze depends on how well insulated the unit is, how much water is in it, and the beginning temperature of the water. Testing of a Thrifty King CT unit showed that at 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit with a 15 mile per hour wind, the water temperature inside the unit dropped ½ degree per hour. We recommend a minimum incoming water temperature of 42 degrees Fahrenheit for Thrifty King units. Under the conditions mentioned above (42 degree source), it would take 20 hours of non-use before the water inside would freeze. Open trough fountains will freeze much faster and must be heated in freezing environments.

General

How much water does the waterer hold? background Layer 1

This varies from unit to unit. Ritchie fountains range in capacity from 1.2 gallons up to 75 gallons. Ritchie quick refill valves negate the need for a larger trough. Having smaller amounts of water allows the water to turn over quickly and stay fresh. It is also more economical to heat fewer gallons of water. Our largest water capacity trough, the WaterMaster 96, holds 75 gallons and is designed for producers that have low water pressure and need the extra standing water available.

Does the water circulate in there? background Layer 1

No. We hear this question from people that think a system like this (without a heat system) is an economical way to keep water from freezing. However, circulating water would require a pump running at all times to circulate water. Also, with no heat or warmer water being added, eventually even circulating water will freeze. Ritchie WaterMaster and CattleMaster can be constant-flowed in lieu of heat, with this water draining to waste, or to a reservoir or pond.

How do you fill the waterer up? background Layer 1

All Ritchie fountains use a valve and float system for automatic refill. This is the same principle as the toilet refill system in your house. The consumer supplies pressurized water to the unit.

How will I know how much my horse is drinking? background Layer 1

There are some horse owners that are reluctant to switch from a bucket to an automatic fountain because they use the bucket to gauge how much water their horse is drinking. We do have a water meter that can be installed (Part #18218) or our Digital Water Meter (Part #18645) in the fountain to answer this question.  

The yellow and red doesn’t match my barn. Do they come in any other colors? background Layer 1

Ritchie poly units can be made in any color. Select poly units are readily available in green as you will find on our website. Other colors (except green) require a minimum order of 25 units. To learn more about the difference between the yellow and green Ritchie waterers, visit our Youtube video. For specialty colors please call your Ritchie dealer for pricing.

How do you clean it? background Layer 1

Most poly units are very easy to clean with the drain plugs located at the ends of the units. Simply push the drain plug in and, on most units, use the plug to plug the valve chamber outlet hole during cleaning. Thrifty King CT units are very well covered up and are a little more difficult to clean. Steel units must have the top cover removed to access the drain plug. An inexpensive toilet brush or similar brush can be used to swish the water around and remove dirt. Ask your local vet for animal safe cleaners should you choose to use one.

Do my animals have to push anything down to make the water turn on? background Layer 1

No. Water is always available to them with the valve and float keeping the fountain filled to the level that the customer sets it at.

Heat Elements and Electronic

How long do the immersion heaters last? background Layer 1

Immersion Heaters are warranted for one year. We recommend taking this heater out at the end of the heating season, cleaning it, and storing it until the next heating season. We know of customers that had multiple heating seasons with this heater by doing this. If left in, this heater can have mineral deposits build up on it. These mineral deposits will create a hot spot and the heater will burn out.

Do you need electricty to run these? background Layer 1

Ritchie Thrifty King units, when used in the right application, do not require electricity. All other units, in freezing conditions, require electricity for the heating system. Ritchie recommends electric service on any new installation, including Thrifty King installations. If heat is needed later on, the electrical service is there. WaterMaster and CattleMaster are available with constant flow for use without electricity.

At what temperature does the thermostat come on? background Layer 1

This varies depending on which unit you are using. Immersion heaters come on around 45 degrees Fahrenheit and go off at around 60 degrees. The disc thermostat is preset to come at 55 degrees (+ or – 5 degrees) Fahrenheit and go off at 65 degrees (+ or – 5 degrees). Larger steel units use a Fenwall thermostat, which is adjustable from 0 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees.

Do I need to use an immersion heater and self-regulating heater with my plastic units? background Layer 1

If these units are being used in a freezing environment, the answer is yes. The exception to this is using Thrifty King units that meet the requirements for energy free usage.

The heat element on one side of my (pick one) Omni, EcoFount, etc. is very hot and the other is lukewarm. What do I need to do to fix this? background Layer 1

The problem here is a burned out or bad heating element, or a bad connection. If it is the element that is farthest away from the thermostat, the thermostat may not be satisfied and that is why the other heater is so hot. Generally the other heating element will not be doing any heating if it is not as hot as the other side. If you have cold hands, a 50-degree element may feel lukewarm. If it is truly warmer than the surrounding components, it may have a bad electrical connection that is passing some electrical current. If this is the case, the electrical connection would probably be hot. Both heaters should always be the same temperature if the components are good. A new heating element or repairing the connection will fix this problem.

Will I be able to add heat to the standard Stall Fount later? background Layer 1

No. The standard Stall Fount is not set up for adding heat. We would recommend purchasing a Stall Fount 125 that comes standard with heat or a Stall Fount II 125 with heat should you see the need for heat in the future.

Installation

How are these installed? background Layer 1

A concrete pad large enough for the animals to stand on while drinking is recommended to prevent a mud-hole from forming next to the fountain. We also recommend a step to make livestock step up to the fountain and to aid with cleaning around the fountain. The easiest way to explain this is to go to the installation link on this web-site. You can also download instruction manuals found here to see how installation is done.

What keeps it from tipping over? background Layer 1

Ritchie automatic waterers with poly bases have molded hold down pockets either located inside or outside of the unit.  All units need to be anchored to a concrete pad using 3/8” stainless steel anchor bolts.

Can I hook this up with a hose? background Layer 1

Traditional Ritchie automatic waterers are designed to be permanent installations. However our sister line of automatic waterers features an EZFount unit, ideal for warm weather climates, that can be used with a hose.  For more information on the Classic Equine by Ritchie visit the website here. Regarding Ritchie automatic waterers, there are certain installations in warm climates where people will hook them up with a garden hose. Poly units with small access panels (WaterMatic 100, WaterMatic 150, WaterMatic 150S, Omni 2) can use Ritchie part #18091, which is the small access panel with a threaded hole through it. This panel can also be used to run electricity to the unit and will accept 1” conduit. The hole is threaded 1-11 ½ NPSM.

Will these work on a gravity-flow system? background Layer 1

Yes. Ritchie offers different valves for different water pressure levels. Our white valve can be used for pressures between 5 and 40 PSI and is geared toward gravity-flow systems.

Can I drill through the side of my poly unit and/or thermal tube? background Layer 1

Drilling through the side of a poly unit or thermal tube will automatically void the warranty and is not recommended. The polyurethane foam that is used to insulate these units must stay dry. If exposed to moisture, the foam soaks up moisture, loses its insulation value, becomes waterlogged, and will freeze.

I have old plumbing and particles in my water. Do I need a water filter? background Layer 1

In most cases, no. Ritchie valves are free flowing and most small particles will pass through the valve and end up in the bottom of the trough. When the unit is cleaned, these particles go out the drain. If the particles are large and causing the valve to clog or stay open, the answer is yes. A screen, such as an agricultural sprayer uses, may be more desirable than a filter. A filter will plug up sooner than a screen. A screen will pass particles that will go through the valve with no problem, whereas the filter will trap them. It is important on new installations to flush the lines of all debris, such as PVC shavings, before hooking up the fountain.

Why do you put water in the grooves? background Layer 1

This is known as the Ritchie water seal and is patented. The water in the grooves creates an airtight seal to disallow cold air entering the valve chamber. Some people will fill this groove with vegetable oil for easier removal in the freezing months. Without this, we would have to use a gasket. It has been proven that when accessing a unit in winter that has a gasket, the gasket will come apart and have to be replaced.

Troubleshooting

Why does my valve drip? background Layer 1

This can be one of several problems. In new installations, if the waterline was not flushed significantly prior to attaching the valve, a piece of debris may have become lodged in the valve not allowing it to seal.  In older installations, over time, the neoprene valve rubber disk on the valve plunger can build up with mineral deposits. These deposits will not let the plunger make a tight seal. Turning the valve rubber (part number 15151 or the 1/2" valve, watch video, and part number 15152 for the 3/4" valve, watch video) over or installing a new valve rubber will solve this problem. A sinking float or a loose or stripped wing nut or thumbscrew can also cause a unit to overflow. This problem can be fixed with new components. When none of the above apply, it is usually a case of too much water pressure that won’t let the valve shut off. When pressure is a problem, the unit should be fitted with a valve designed for higher pressures. If a high-pressure valve does not solve the problem, a pressure regulator must be installed in the line ahead of the valve. Another situation that can cause this is water hammer. The surge from a water hammer situation can cause the valve to sputter for long periods of time creating the appearance that the valve shut off. This can also be solved with an inline pressure regulator.  

Why does water gush out of the sides of my CT unit when the cows take a drink? background Layer 1

When this happens, the water level inside is set too high. When the ball closures are at the top of the drink well, there is still water capacity in the trough. When the water level inside is too high and the ball is pushed, water inside is displaced and must go somewhere. Consequently, it comes out through the water seal between the top and the base. This can also happen if the fountain is not installed on a level surface or if you have a leaky valve.  If your valve is leaking either replace the valve or the valve rubber.  Learn more about our valves here. 

I have a CD-50 and need to get some parts. background Layer 1

This is a statement that is often called in to us by people who are not familiar with Ritchie and/or have purchased a property with a fountain on it. When Ritchie installed a powder coating system in 1972, we named the finish CD-50. This was on a decal that was put on all steel powder coated casings. All steel units have a brass serial tag on the casing, which is located directly under the trough. The top line of the serial tag contains the model number and a four-digit serial number. The serial number is actually a date code telling the month and year that the unit was manufactured. If you are unsure of the model number, we can usually determine the model with a description of your waterer.  Ritchie waterers are built for longevity so in most cases, parts are readily available for older models that may be labeled with the CD-50 paint.

Warranty

What is the warranty? background Layer 1

All Ritchie fountains carry a ten-year warranty. On poly units, this is five years full warranty, with a prorated (20% per year) warranty the last five years. Stainless steel troughs and frames carry a full (100%) warranty for 10 years. Steel casings, access panels, and covers carry a prorated (10% per year) warranty for ten years. Valves and heaters are warranted for one year from the date of purchase. Read the full warranty here.

What if my livestock damage this? background Layer 1

Our warranty does not apply to any appearance items, to any product whose exterior has been damaged or defaced, to any product that has been improperly installed, to any product subjected to misuse, abnormal service or handling, and to any products altered or repaired with other than original equipment or manufacturer’s parts. Click here for more information on our warranty.