Your Company Name, Contact Info and Logo could go here !

Outside Water Faucets

To maintain the effectiveness and useful life of your outside water faucet, it is important that your home maintenance program include the proper maintenance for your outside water faucet (spigot).

Water expands when it freezes.  If you live in a region where temperatures go below freezing in the winter, then your outside water faucets risk being damaged if they are not drained prior to the winter.  See also:  Plumbing.

Shown in the "Maintenance" tab above are the recommended routine maintenance tasks for your outside water faucet (spigot). The "Questions / Answers" tab above shows our answers to related questions. And the "Articles" tab above provides links to related informational articles and sources.


Get tips for saving money on energy, improving safety and more with our free Newsletter, or sign-up for our free Personalized Reminders.



 Maintenance Task #1Shut-off and drain outdoor water faucets (cold climates)

    How do you shut-off and drain outdoor water faucets?  



To shut off and drain outdoor water faucets:

  1. Ensure that the outside valve for the faucet is shut off tight (that is, turn the handle on the outside of the house tight clockwise).
  2. Shut off the valve just inside of your house near where the pipe for the faucet goes through the wall.
  3. Place a bucket under this inside valve, and unscrew the small drain plug on the side of this valve.  This will allow the water that is trapped between the two valves to drain out.
  4. Screw the drain plug back in.

Also bring garden hoses inside to prevent damage to them from the cold.

    Why is it important to shut-off and drain outdoor water faucets?  



Prevents potential danger to the valves from freezing water.  When the water freezes, it expands causing the valve to either leak or crack, which can allow water to flow inside the house.

    How often should you shut-off and drain outdoor water faucets?  
    The outside water faucets should be drained and shut off prior to the winter (November).  




    How does Home-Wizard rate the costs and benefits for this task?  
    The cost of this task is low, from an investment of time standpoint.  It is estimated that this task should only take about 30 minutes to complete, depending on how many outside spigots you have.  Once you have done it the first time, it is very easy to do thereafter.  
    The benefits of this task are relatively high.  Doing this task can help prevent water damage in your home.  
    Overall Home-Wizard benefit-versus-cost rating (one 'hat' = low and four 'hats' = high)  






 Maintenance Task #2Re-open the faucets (cold climates).

    How do you re-open outdoor water faucets?  



To re-open the faucets:

  1. Check to be sure the drain plug for the inside valve is tightened.

  2. Open the valve just inside of the house or building from for the faucet.

  3. Open the outside valve for the faucet.

  4. Check the inside valve for any leaks.

    Why is it important to re-open outdoor water faucets?  



Prepares faucet for seasonal use.

    How often should you re-open outdoor water faucets?  
    The outside water faucets should be re-opened in the spring (April).  




    How does Home-Wizard rate the costs and benefits for this task?  
    The cost of this task is low, from an investment of time standpoint.  Turning water back on to your outside water spigots is easier than turning it off, since you do not need a bucket to drain the valve to the spigot, you just open it back up.  
    The benefits of this task are that it allows you to use your spigot again.  
    Overall Home-Wizard benefit-versus-cost rating (one 'hat' = low and four 'hats' = high)  





QUESTIONS & ANSWERS from "Ask-a-Wizard":

QUESTION from bigt on 4/20/2008:

How do I install a freeze proof outside water hydrant?


Dear Bigt:

As far as I know, there isn't a way to install a "freeze-proof" outside water hydrant. However, you can prevent an outside water hydrant or faucet from freezing in the winter by draining the water from the valve, as described on our webpage for routine maintenance for outside water faucets:

Hope this is helpful.

QUESTION from Maria Cech on 11/4/2008
My house has plastic plumbing. The inside valve doesn't have the small drain plug. There is a small plug on the pipe above the valve. After I closed the inside valve a opened the small one, the water began to pouring. The bucket was full within a minute. I had realy hard time to shut it off. Is there a valve that doesn't have to have the small drain plug. Please advise. I am a female, who lives alone. Thank you in advance.


Dear Maria:

Sure, we would be glad to try to help you.

First, what is it that you are trying to do? Which inside valve are your referring to? Is this one that is going to a particular appliance or sink?

If you could give us a little more information, we can then help you with some suggestions.


FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Maria on 11/4/2008

I was trying to shut off the outside water outlets. There are 2 water outlets - 1 in a garage, 1 at the rear of the house. I turned off 2 valves in a basement, then went to garage and backyard and opened valves. And then according to my friends I was suppose to drain the remaining water between valves (inside of the house to the backyard and inside of the house to the garage). When I opened the small drain plug in the basement, water began running so hard that I had to shut it off and I was very lucky that I found it. 

My question to you is: Winter maintenance, when you drain water between outside line valve and inside valve, must you always use the small plug or is it possible that some valves simply do not have that small plug (I would say my certainly don't).

I am desperate. My house warranty expired in July 2008, I did not touch the small plug last year. My builder is not willing to help.


Dear Maria:

Now I think I understand what you are trying to do. It sounds as part of preparing for winter, that you want to shut off and drain your outside water faucets, so that they don't freeze and burst over the winter, right?

What you are trying to do is exactly the right thing to be doing prior to the winter. If you live in a region of the country that gets below freezing during the winter, then draining your outside water valves is very important. Freezing water can create enough pressure to crack open valves and piping, and can result in flooding inside of your home.

A couple of things:

First, if you haven't already, you can go to our online Maintenance Library to the page on Outside Water Faucet Maintenance:

On this page it will describe the procedure for properly shutting off and draining your outside water faucets. You will also notice that there are two photographs on this page. The picture on the left is your outside water faucet, and the picture on the right is a small valve that will be located on the inside of your house, immediately inside from where the outside faucet is located. You will want to close both valves tightly (both inside and outside valves), and then remove the small little "cap" that is at the bottom of the small valve that is right inside your house (this drains out the water that is trapped between the two valves). If water keeps coming out when this little cap is removed, then this valve has not been properly closed. This could be because the valve handle has not been turned hard enough or turned in the wrong direction, or the valve is bad.

Secondly, I see that you have signed up for our free Newsletter, but you might also want to sign up for our Free Personalized Reminders, which will allow you to input all of the particular features of your home, and then when you get your monthly Newsletter, it will include inside the Newsletter the reminders for the tasks that you should do for your particular home, to help keep you safe and saving energy, and help protect the value of your home.

Hope this is helpful. If you need anything else, just let us know.

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from Maria on 11/4/2008

Yes, that's exactly what I was doing. 

I have checked you Maintenance Library on Outside Water Faucet Maintenance and if you look at the picture, the valve inside the house doesn't have the small drain plug next to it. It is located 10 cm above the valve and when I open it, the water is pouring out.

I just want to know if it is ok


Dear Maria:

It is alright if the small drain plug is located next to the inside shut-off valve, as long as this small drain plug is located in between the inside shut-off valve and the outside faucet.

If this is indeed the case, and after you close both valves that water continually flows out of the small drain plug, then the inside shut-off valve is either not closing completely or the valve has gone bad.

Hope this is helpful.

QUESTION from Chris on 12/28/2009
My outside water faucet was not turned off before winter. Anything I can do to rectify my error going forward into winter? Should I turn off the inside valve anyway? Thank you!


Dear Chris:

Yes, you should shut off the inside water valve, so that if the outside water valve or piping does freeze and burst that you will not have water flowing out.

If the outside valve has already frozen, then you can open the inside valve up, and there are several techniques that you can use to thaw the outside valve to get the water flowing through. We recommend that you do NOT try to heat up your valve with anything hotter than you would put on your hand. Heating up a water valve or pipe too fast, such as by using a torch, can actually cause the pipe to rupture from the steam that is produced and trapped between frozen sections of the pipe. 

A couple of good choices for heating up your frozen outside valve are:

- Hair dryer.
- Hot towels (just keep replacing them as they cool off).
- Space heater.
- Light bulbs, or better yet, a heat lamp.
- Well-grounded heating pad.

Keep applying the heat until the water starts to flow out. Let it flow for a while to get all of the ice out. Then follow the procedure shown in our Maintenance Library for outside water faucets, to drain the water from the valve for the winter:

Hope this is helpful.

QUESTION from Jane on 1/7/2010
Hi. The temps in my area are well below freezing now; really not typical for this area. I have not performed the pipe maintenance suggested. Is it too late to take care of the outside faucets? I'm feeling pretty inept, but I've never had to do this before, and it just didn't occur to me until now. Thanks.


Dear Jane:

It's not too late to take care of your outside water faucets. You will want to shut off the inside valve, as this will help limit the water supply that could spill out if the outside piping freezes and bursts. You will then open the bleeder plug on the valve to see if any water can drain out (you will want to have a bucket or rag underneath it to catch any water), and then reinstall this plug or cap. You will then want to open the outside valve. If your temperatures are below freezing, then likely nothing will come out. But if you have a thaw, then any trapped water can come out. 

An additional step that you can take is to use a hair dryer to heat up the outside valve and piping to defrost and drain the water out.

Hope this is helpful.

QUESTION from vertbusOKC on 1/8/2010
I live in Oklahoma and we don't have super cold weather here very much. If I leave my outside water spigot dripping while it is super cold will that keep it from freezing up? I seems to be working so far. I have had to kick away the ice that is building up on the ground but the pipes are remaining unfrozen. I was told this was the wrong thing to do and I am looking for some reinforcement that I am doing the right thing.


Dear vertbusOKC:

Technically, yes, what you are doing will work. But is it the best way? Not really. 

The problem with dripping water every winter is that even a small drip going on for 24 hours a day 7 days a week will add up, and over time, you are basically wasting a lot of water to keep your faucet from freezing up. Also, depending on where this water is going, there is chance that this water could be leaking right next to your foundation, which is not a good thing either.

Some better alternatives include:

1) You can use the procedure that we recommend for draining your outside water faucets prior to the cold weather (see this webpage in our online Maintenance Library: It will be more reliable, and it is a lot less work and risk than having to continually go outside and check and kick away ice!

2) Install a frost-free outside water faucet. You may have seen these in hardware stores, they look like a chrome pipe about 18" long or so with a regular outside faucet on one end, and a pipe connection of the other. The design of a frost-free faucet is that the shut off mechanism is actually at the far end of the pipe, so that when the chrome pipe extends through your foundation, that the shut off mechanism is in the heated part of your home, away from the freezing outside temperatures.

Hope this is helpful.


Sponsor Message

Home-Wizard is brought to you by our network of sponsors  as part of a commitment to making it easier for you to manage your home. 

Each feature of Home-Wizard is designed to motivate, inform, encourage and support you to do the tasks that are important for saving energy and reducing your carbon footprint, improving the safety of your home, and maintaining the value of your home and major appliances.

  • Tip of the Day

August Tips

Each month, Home Wizard can send you free personalized tips & reminders that will help you save energy, improve safety, and more.

Latest Video

"Bathroom Makeover Ideas"

5 types of makeover ideas for your bathroom.

Latest Articles

Top 5 Tasks for August
If you only do five home care tasks in August, here are the ones that we recommend you do . . .

Improving Indoor Air Quality
According to the EPA, air quality inside a home is typically 5 times worse than outdoor air quality . . .

Microwave Safety Tips
A microwave can be a cause of burns, kitchen fires, and sickness from under-cooked foods . . .

Outdoor Decking: 10 Important Areas to Check
Here are 10 areas that you should inspect each year to ensure that your decking is safe and will continue to last a long time . . .

Preventing the 5 Most Fatal Home Accidents
Home accidents cause more deaths each year than any other reason except for motor vehicle accidents . . .

Tip of the Day

What are your goals for your home?

Save energy?

Maintain safety?

Be more green?

Home Wizard can help!

Want Monthly Personalized Tips but Hate Email?

Hate email? ... click here to recieve your tips through

Smart Phones
August Tips

Each month, Home Wizard can send you free personalized tips reminders that will help you save energy, improve safety, and more.

Are you a home service provider?

Home Wizard is more than just a newsletter for your customers. It's a way to show you really care about helping them take care of their home!

Unsubscribe | Privacy | Terms of use | | Are you a home service provider?