Prevent Frozen Pipes by Installing Hose Bib Covers on Outdoor Faucets

An outdoor faucet

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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.

Although there are freeze-proof faucets available designed to prevent this, even these faucets can freeze given the right circumstances—such as if they are improperly installed so that water does not properly drain out of them. These frost-proof faucets should be installed so that the pipe has a slight downhill slope, allowing standing water to drain out. In theory, with no standing water in the pipe, there is nothing to freeze. But if these faucets are installed with the wrong slope so that water remains in the pipe, burst pipes can occur. 

Fortunately, it's pretty easy to prevent this problem, no matter what kind of outdoor faucet valve you have. The solution: performing simple preventative steps and installing insulated faucet covers.

Preventing Freezing Pipes

One important preventive step is the simple, common-sense step of removing garden hoses. 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 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 and home improvement centers. Another type of cover is a soft bag with a drawstring, which is equally effective.

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. 

How to Install Faucet Covers

The procedure for installing most hard-shelled faucet covers is quite simple: 

  1. Place the rubber loop located inside the cover around the spigot body.
  2. Position the cover over the spigot
  3. 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. 

For a bag-style cover, slip the bag over the faucet and pull the drawstring tight to hold it in place.

Two very simple steps—removing garden hoses and covering up all outdoor faucets with insulated covers—provide cheap insurance that can potentially save you thousands of dollars in water damage.