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Home Care Library

Outside Water Faucets

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The Home Wizard app calculates your ideal home care program to avoid problems with your Outside Water Faucets, but sometimes trouble can still occur. Here are answers to questions about outside water faucet freeze proofing.

QUESTION FROM Chris

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!

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

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: http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/outsidewaterfaucet.asp

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM vertbusOKC

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.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

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: http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/outsidewaterfaucet.asp ). 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.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM Jane

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.

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

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.
Home-Wizard.com

QUESTION FROM bigt

How do I install a freeze proof outside water hydrant?

ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD

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:

http://www.home-wizard.com/maintenance/outsidewaterfaucet.asp

Hope this is helpful.
Home-Wizard.com

Outside Water Faucets