Get It While It’s Cold

A Georgia contractor uses a favorite work tool to give his grandkids a chance to romp in snow
Get It While It’s Cold

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Farmers like to “make hay while the sun shines.”

One plumber and drain cleaner in Georgia likes to make snow while it’s cold – not often the case in his part of the country. Dave Runyan, owner of Runyan Plumbing, lives in Brunswick, near the ocean. 

The temperature seldom falls below 32 degrees there, and when it does, it’s not for long – a couple of days at best. Still, Runyan wanted his grandkids to experience playing in snow without having to drive them to a colder climate. 

So last February, when the temperature in Brunswick fell to about 27 degrees, Runyan went to work with a homemade snowmaking device relying on his Harben trailer-mounted waterjetter and information and equipment from SNOWatHOME, a supplier of snowmaking products based in Terryville, Conn. 

Runyan made what he calls “the South Georgia Redneck Snowmaker” using an SG7 X-stream Snowmaker from SNOWatHOME with nozzles upgraded to 7.5 gpm.

“Because I am on a water well, the temperature of the water is around 68 degrees,” Runyan reports. “Of course, we all know that 68-degree water will not work.” Therefore, Runyan converted an old outdoor heat pump by removing the compressor and fan motor and modifying it so that he could circulate water through the coils. He added a fan to pull cold ambient air across the coils to drop the water temperature into the mid-30s.

The water then goes into the jetter’s 300-gallon water tank and is pumped out at 800 psi through a nucleation nozzle, which ejects it as a fine mist. At the same time, air at 60 to 70 psi is injected into the stream of mist and cools rapidly as it expands. This causes the mist droplets to fall out as ice crystals.

On the night of Feb. 26, Runyan recorded a temperature of 27 degrees F at 85 percent humidity. He ran the snowmaker in his yard for 8.5 hours at 6 gpm and covered a large area. The snow was 19 inches deep at the center where the snow machine stood. His grandkids enjoyed using the snow to make snowmen and have a snowball fight.


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