Frost-free hydrants keep your water flowing on even the coldest days. But sometimes if the handle is not all the way down, out of adjustment, or there is poor drainage, your frost-free hydrants can freeze. Ed Helgeson of Crookston, Minn., put together a hydrant defroster with a few spare parts and a small pump.

* To build a defroster, start with a small pump that can be powered by a drill, obtainable at most hardware stores for $7 to $9, according to Mr. Helgeson.

* Attach a 4-foot piece of hose to the pump's inlet. An old piece of clear anhydrous line works well. The pump can pull water from a bucket, but Mr. Helgeson recommends attaching a clean jug to the line to gravity feed water for easier use.

* On the outlet side of the pump, use smaller fittings to attach 1Ž8-inch tubing. Mr. Helgeson says that the line for the air shift on truck transmissions works well. The line has to be small to fit inside the pipe hydrant with the control rod.

* Take the top off of your hydrant.

* Put a variable speed drill on the pump, fill the jug with warm water and slide the 1Ž8-inch line into the hydrant pipe until it stops, usually by the ice at ground level.

* Start the drill to pump warm water directly to the ice blockage. As the ice melts, keep pushing until the line is through the blockage.

* After reassembling the hydrant, check the setting by putting your fingers over the outlet after you shut it off. There should be a slight suction.