How to Prevent Outside Faucets from Freezing

Most of the pipes in your home are protected from the cold. They have the benefit of being insulated along with the house and they get heat from the thermostat. This is important because when a pipe freezes, it can burst. Unfortunately, even if all your indoor plumbing is safe and warm, most people in cold climates have outdoor faucets that are susceptible to freezing. If you have a frozen faucet, you can call for a plumbing service like Roto-Rooter, and professionals can fix the problem. If you haven’t experienced freezing faucets yet, there are steps you can take to prevent any future problems.

PRE-WINTER DRAINING

The easiest and cheapest way to prevent freezing in your pipes is to drain the lines prior to the first freeze each winter. To do this, you’ll need to locate the valve that controls water flow to your outside faucets, which is usually located in the basement, and switch it off. Then open each outside faucet completely and let it drain. It is important to remove any hoses, splitters or other attachments from the faucet to make sure it drains properly. If there is no water in the line, the pipes will not freeze. Unfortunately, not everybody has a basement with a separate valve for outside faucets, and even if they do, they might not know where it is, but there are other options for protecting outside faucets.

FROST-FREE HOSE BIB

If you can’t shut off and drain your outdoor lines, the next best thing is to have a frost-free hose bib installed. This bib will completely replace your old faucet, and runs several inches into the side of the house where a shut off valve is located. This way, you create a valve for that specific faucet, so you can easily drain it each winter. Removing your old bib or spigot and replacing it with one that is frost free may be confusing; it may involve soldering, caulking and general plumbing skills and knowledge. If you need help don’t hesitate to call Roto-Rooter for a professional install.

INSULATION

In addition to other preventive measures, it is wise to install insulation for each faucet prior to winter. Outdoor faucet covers are manufactured specifically for this purpose, and come in Styrofoam and insulated cloth sacks. These covers usually hook over the faucet to stay in place, so are very quick and simple to install and remove each year.

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR OUTDOOR PLUMBING FOR COLD WEATHER

For most of the U.S. the transition from warm weather to cold weather is right around the corner and can often leave homeowners unprepared. Taking the time to prep your outdoor plumbing for winter now, will be beneficial in the long run. Follow these tips while time is on your side, instead of waiting until the cold weather arrives.

CHECK FOR LEAKS

It’s important to inspect outdoor faucets, also known as spigots or hose bibs, for drips. If you find that your outdoor plumbing is leaking, call your local Roto-Rooter plumber to make all the necessary repairs before temperatures get so cold that the faucet can freeze and cause even more problems. For instance, when outdoor faucets experience a hard freeze, that freeze tends to affect the connecting water supply pipe. If that pipe is made of copper or plastic, it often splits open the pipe. As long as the pipe remains frozen, you won’t notice the problem, but after it thaws, the pipe can flood your home. Very quickly.

SHUT OFF WATER & DRAIN YOUR PIPES

After you have checked for active leaks and before you start shutting down your outdoor plumbing, be sure to shut off the water leading out of your home so water doesn’t rest in your pipes. If your home is equipped with interior shutoff valves leading to the outside faucets, turn off the valve, then go outside and turn on the outside hose bibs until all remaining water in the line drains out. Water left in your pipes will freeze, expand, and possibly burst your pipes. By draining your pipes completely, you avoid the high risk of frozen pipes and pricy solutions.

COVER AND CONCEAL

Once all water is drained from any supply pipe leading outside, detach any hose from the outdoor hose bib and stow away indoors. Next, go to your local hardware store and pick up a faucet insulation kit. Prices can vary depending on kit and hardware store but most kits are just a few dollars. Follow your kits’ directions to cover and conceal your outdoor plumbing.

If you are having trouble winterizing your outdoor plumbing, call your local Roto-Rooter plumbers are ready to give advice and walk you through the steps.

CHECK YOUR OUTSIDE FAUCET FOR LEAKS WHEN USING YOUR GARDEN HOSE

With summer approaching, many people will begin using their outside faucet to water the flowers, fill the swimming pool and/or wash the car. For people in areas that are hit by winter freeze, you may be in for a surprise the first time you pull out the garden hose.

In the spring and summer months, Roto-Rooter receives many plumbing service calls for problems with homeowners' outside faucets. When the homeowner turns on their outside faucet it runs normal, however, when they connect their garden hose and try to use, water backs up into the pipe and leaks into the basement. These plumbing problems may be caused by the hose bib freezing in the winter, thus resulting in a crack in the line from the faucet. The crack is probably tight enough to prevent water when there is no backpressure, but the moment you put a hose on and increase the backpressure, it leaks into the house. Look into getting a new sillcock to correct this issue.

If the problem persists or if you would like help with this, Roto-Rooter provides 24 hour plumbing service. Our trained plumbers can help with your residential plumbing issues.

GETTING YOUR YARD READY FOR WINTER

It’s that time of the year again. The lawn mower will soon be put away for the winter and your best gardening tools will soon be stowed away until next spring. Roto Rooter has several handy tips for making sure that your yard’s drainage, your home’s downspouts and outside faucets are ready for winter.

  • Ensure yard drains, gutters and downspouts are free of leaves and debris. This will be challenging until all of the leaves have fallen from the trees so this will require regular attention until then.
  • Remove leaves and debris from basement window wells.
  • Check for birds' nests that may have been built in plumbing vent pipes, like the ones from the dryer to the outside.
  • Check all outside faucets (hose bibs) to make sure water flows freely. If an outdoor faucet is barely dripping or if there is leakage, repair the leak before winter when the drip could cause the faucet to freeze and its water supply pipe to crack.
  • Cover outside faucets with a Styrofoam insulation kit from the hardware store.
  • A twice-a-year application of Roto-Rooter® Root Destroyer can retard the growth of roots in your drain line – even during cold months when trees are seemingly dormant. Simply pour the recommended dosage into your toilet bowl and flush the product into the sewer.
  • Septic tanks should be inspected and pumped every three to five years to help prevent costly replacement of the filter field."