Most homeowners have experiences coping with the brutal elements in winter, whether it is roofing woes, insulation leaks, or, worse, burst pipes. When water freezes, it can expand to more than 10 percent of its original volume, spelling enormous problems for your plumbing, especially your outdoor faucets. While taking precautions to avoid burst pipes inside the home is critical, sometimes outdoor faucets are left vulnerable to the elements. However, just a few simple steps will ensure that your outdoor faucets are protected, remain frost-free, and will be in good shape come the Spring and gardening season.
Shut Off The Faucets
The first step is to disconnect any outdoor faucets from the main water supply. These shut off valves will usually be inside the house, and connect directly to the outdoor faucets. To ensure a frost-free faucet, the supply of water to the outdoor faucet – and usually hose – must be severed to prevent further build up of ice and frost inside the piping and the hose. In addition, to get a freeze proof outdoor faucet, you must also disconnect the actual garden hose from the outdoor spigot, drain any remaining water from this hose, and store it properly in a winterized or otherwise protected indoor space. This will prevent splitting and damage to the garden hose.
Drain The Faucets
Before setting up for winter, and after properly storing your garden hoses and other outdoor faucet attachments, make sure to drain the remaining water from the pipes and spigots. To do this, make sure you already shut down the water supply from inside the home, and then run the outdoor faucets until you get them as dry as possible. It is impossible to entirely clear them of water, but the goal is not to get them bone dry – the goal is to remove the majority of the volume so that the remaining water, when it freezes, will not outsize the limits of the spigot or the plumbing pipes, and will not cause expansion damage to the cold, brittle metal.
We also want to call out, that there could also be internal shut-offs within your garage, identify those to further remove the water from the source of the outside.
Insulate The Faucets
For an added layer of safety and precaution, you can insulate the exposed outdoor faucets. One of the best ways to do this is to install frost-free hose bibs onto the exposed spigots and plumbing on the exterior of the home. These bibs are relatively inexpensive, and can go a long way in further protecting outdoor faucets. Most home improvement or hardware stores carry both the frost-free bibs to protect the spigots and plumbing, as well as the necessary covers that help protect the hardware – metal clamps, usually – on the bibs themselves. This extra layer of protection may seem like overkill, however, it could be a small price to pay to avoid very costly plumbing fixes in the spring.
If you are a homeowner, it is likely that you have some outdoor faucets that need protecting. Winters can be brutal on home plumbing if proper steps are not taken to protect and insulate pipes and faucets, and this is not isolated just to the plumbing inside the home. A properly winterized plumbing system will prevent frustration and unnecessary expenses in the Spring when you want to use these outdoor faucets. Fortunately, these steps are easy to follow, and can be accomplished in a short afternoon, and in the normal course of winterizing your home.
Another great idea would be to buy a freeze proof winter faucet. We use these around our home and they come highly recommended. Great for brutal winters wherever you may be!
We’ve also tried this outdoor faucet protectors and they work well too!