Winterizing Exterior Water Faucets

by April Reinhardt
(last updated October 22, 2014)

While many homeowners take the time to prevent frozen water pipes within their home, some forget that outside water faucets are even more susceptible to freezing and bursting. Did you know that an eighth-inch crack as a result of water freezing, expanding, and bursting a pipe can result in a loss of 250 gallons of water per day? Where do you think that water will wind up? The resultant cost in repairs to your water pipes and possibly even your foundation can be mind boggling—this does not even count the water bill.

Why not take a few hours to completely winterize your exterior faucets and avoid the time, anguish, and money loss later on? Follow these simple steps for winterizing your exterior faucets and you will be glad that you did:

  1. Turn off the water faucets. Turn each handle clockwise until you cannot tighten it further.
  2. Locate the shut-off valve for each outside water faucet. Usually, the shut-off valves are inside of the house, near the inside pipe connected to the outside faucet. Turn the valves off tightly.
  3. Drain the inside valves. Place a bucket or large bowl underneath the inside valves, unscrew the drain plug on the side of the valves, and allow the water to drain into the bucket or bowl. Replace the drain plug.
  4. Go outside and remove any garden hoses attached to your outside faucets.

Another way that you can prevent frozen faucets is to visit your local home improvement or hardware store and purchase insulated outside faucet covers. These are specially designed to fit and protect all types of hose bibs and water spigots, outside faucet covers are easy to install. Follow the instructions that come with the kit in order to seal the faucet, and protect it from freezing water that may remain after draining your valves.

It only takes a small amount of time and money to winterize your outside faucets. The money and time you spend now will more than compensate for the money and time you may have to spend repairing burst water faucets later.

If you find, despite best efforts, that your outside water faucets freeze, you can easily thaw them and then inspect for cracks. To thaw frozen pipes: use a hair dryer on high heat; situate a heat lamp nearly touching the frozen pipe; wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe; or use a portable space heater near the pipe. Never, ever use a blowtorch or other open-flamed tool on a frozen water pipe, as you may cause the water inside to boil, resulting in an explosion.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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