In cold climates, the outdoor water spigots installed on the wall of your home can easily freeze and burst in the wintertime. If you are lucky, it is the body of the faucet itself that bursts on the outside of your home, but all too often the rupture occurs just inside the walls of your home, where it can lead to thousands of dollars in water damage if not quickly spotted. In northern climates, it's not at all uncommon for pipes to burst while homeowners are away for a winter vacation, leading to a most unpleasant and expensive surprise when they return home.
Although there are freeze-proof faucets available designed to prevent this, even these faucets can freeze given the right circumstances—usually when they've been installed incorrectly. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to prevent freezing faucet problems, no matter what kind of outdoor faucet valve you have. The solution: performing simple preventative steps as part of an annual winterizing, and installing insulated faucet covers.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
One important preventive step is the simple, common-sense step of removing garden hoses from the hose spigots. A hose that remains attached to the faucet can trap residual water, which can back up and freeze, causing even a supposedly frost-proof faucet to burst.
Another very easy step is to install an outdoor faucet cover over each hose spigot on the outside of your home. Costing less than $10 each, these covers are constructed from soft foam or foam-lined hard plastic, and they can be purchased just about anywhere you can buy plumbing materials, including local hardware stores, home improvement centers, and online retailers. Another type of faucet cover is a soft bag with a drawstring, which is equally effective at protecting outdoor faucets.
Faucet covers are a great value because they can be reused for years before they need to be replaced. An end-of-season ritual that includes putting insulated faucet covers on all outdoor spigots is also a reminder to disconnect and put away your garden hoses for the season.
The surest way to prevent a hose spigot from freezing is to install a frost-proof hose bib. To further insure there won't be freezing, locate the shut-off valve inside the house that feeds the hose bib. Shut the valve off in the fall before the first freeze.
- Foam faucet cover or bag-style cover
- Rope caulk or spray foam (if needed)
Unscrew the garden hose from the outdoor spigot. Drain an residual water from the hose, then coil it up and store it in a dry location.
Position the Faucet Cover
Place the rubber loop located inside the faucet cover over and around the spigot body. Position the cover itself over the spigot, as tight as possible against the wall of the home.
If you are using a bag-style cover, slip the bag over the faucet and pull the drawstring tight to hold it in place.
Tighten the Faucet Cover
Tighten the slide lock to hold the cover in place. It's important that the cover is snug and secure so that there are no air gaps through which cold winter air can circulate. Make sure the gasket is tight against the side of the house. If there are any gaps, as may happen with some types of siding materials, you can use rope caulk or spray foam to seal them.