Saturday, January 11, 2014

Keeping Pets Cool During a Heat Wave with an Improvised Misting Spray

Recently I had to look after my sister's chickens while she was away on holidays, and on a hot day (35 °C) while I was at work one of them didn't make it.  Her partner added some shade cloth to their pen to fix the problem.  This made a big difference and largely solved the problem, but I was worried about the forecast for the next weekend I was looking after them and wanted to add a small water spray to keep the enclosure cool.  The forecast was for a day of 40 °C, it ended up being about 43 °C.  The idea is pretty basic, put a sprinkler jet on a timer and put it in the pen.  If the chickens get wet that's great, but even if they don't, the water evaporating from the mist and from the ground, will drop the temperature.  My first attempt gave mixed results.

Misting Sprinkler
A hose connector was added to a bit of garden pipe and then a flexible tube was connected to this.  The tube was attached to a garden stake and a 21 L/hour sprinkler jet was added to the end.  The jet was then placed at a high point in the pen.

Garden Hose Connector
Hose connector
Sprinkler Jet
Sprinkler Jet
This was set up on a timer and let run for a day to see the results.  Initially it worked well, but when I returned the next day the tap was off.  It seems a helpful neighbour turned off the system after it failed and was squirting a jet of water in the air.  The problem was twofold,  The extreme heat softened the flexible hose, and then the high domestic water pressure blew it off the black hose.  I put it back together and then the sprinkler jet was blown off the end.  A cable tie was used to reattach it to the pipe, but I didn't really have much confidence in the set-up any more.  I bought a pressure reducer to drop the pressure to 100 kPa, but at that point I had already decided to redesign the whole thing to be a little more reliable.

I'd already bought the pressure reducer so I decided to use it.  It was added after the timer.

Garden Water Timer
Tap Timer with a pressure reducer
This is the result.  The whole arrangement is basically metal.  It consists of a brass jet inserted into a copper pipe, this is connected to a fitting to couple it to a garden hose.  The pipe was bent using a standard spring bending tool.

Misting Sprinkler
Improved Mister
An old spike sprinkler fitting was repurposed to connect the garden hose to the copper pipe.  A standard hose connector was put on one side, and a compression fitting was added to the other.  Thread tape was also used to get a good fit.

Sprinkler Base Fitting
Connecting the copper pipe to the hose with a sprinkler fitting
The other end was squashed shut in a vice and soldered shut.  A hole was drilled in the pipe, all filings were flushed from the pipe, and the jet was inserted.  It was able to cut its own thread, but if it needed it I would have soldered it in place, that wasn't required though.

Brass Sprinkler Jet
Brass jet in copper pipe
During my research for this I looked into professional misting systems that are used specifically to lower temperatures, and someday I'd like to have a reason to use them.
Ideally I would've liked a jet with a lower flow rate, but this was all I could get my hands on.  It made things a little muddy, but I'm glad to report that all of the chickens made it through the day.

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