You may not be ready to pull out your winter clothing, but you need to learn how to winterize outdoor faucets sooner than you think.
Don’t put off covering your home’s exposed outdoor faucets. If you do, the risk goes way up for expensive water damage resulting from a burst frozen pipe. Mitigate this risk by following the instructions in this post.
What Do I Need to Winterize an Outdoor Faucet?
Before you begin the process, you’ll need the following tools:
How to Winterize Outdoor Faucets in 5 Steps
Your typical outdoor faucets (those good old-fashioned spigots we’re all used to) are extremely vulnerable to winter’s cold temperatures and harsh weather. But even a fancy frost-free exterior faucet in a new home needs to be properly maintained. They’re not 100 percent full proof.
The most important thing you can do to prevent any of these outdoor faucets and pipes from freezing is to rid them of any water before winter’s first freeze.
Step 1: Shut Off the Water
First, you need to know if your home has an interior shut-off valve for the outdoor faucet.
Most often, the valve is located on the interior wall of the house, directly behind the outside faucet. It will have either a gate valve (wheel-shaped handle) or a ball valve (lever-shaped handle).
To shut off water to the spigot, turn the gate shut-off valve clockwise until it stops. If the gate valve is difficult to turn by hand, apply a lubricating spray (like WD-40) and turn it with an adjustable wrench.
The ball valve needs a quarter turn clockwise (perpendicular to the water pipe) to stop the flow of water. This lever-style shut-off valve rarely gets stuck so you shouldn’t have any trouble manually turning it off.
Step 2: Drain Water Out of Pipes & Hoses
It’s possible that your home doesn’t have an interior shut-off valve connected to your outside faucet. If not, we highly recommend that you hire a plumber to add one. You might want to have a frost-free faucet installed while you’re at it.
But for now, go outside to the exterior faucet. Detach and drain the garden hose and store it away, if applicable (they can burst too in cold weather). Here’s what to do if your garden hose has fused onto the spigot.
Now open the outside faucet by turning the handle counterclockwise. Allow any water remaining in the pipe to drain out.
Step 3: Open the Bleeder Cap
Go back inside and open the bleeder cap. It is a 3/8″-round brass cap located on the side of your water supply valve (along the plumbing line that leads to your spigot). It looks like a tiny knob or dial.
Using the adjustable wrench, slightly turn the bleed cap counterclockwise. Leave it open for a few seconds only (you want to close the cap immediately when this step is done) to allow air into the pipes. This will help force out any trapped water. Use the rag to catch drops of water that may drain from the bleeder.
Step 4: Shut Off the Outdoor Spigot
After all the water has finally drained from the outdoor faucet, shut it off by turning the handle clockwise. This will prevent cold air from entering the spigot and the water pipes inside your home.
For added protection, place a cold-weather cover over the faucet and secure the hook or drawstring (depending on what type of cover you purchase). Make sure the spigot is completely covered and the cover is tightened securely.
Step 5: Drain Your Garden Hose & Store Away
Once again, make sure to drain any remaining water inside the garden hose. Do this by hanging it over your deck or fence.
If you have neither, extend the hose to its entire length. Raise one end to waist level and, putting one hand in front of the other, walk the length of the hose. This will drain it of any trapped water. You may need to repeat this a few times.
- How to winterize a vacant house
- How to winterize a house for complete protection
- How to winterize a house with frost-free spigots
- How to thaw frozen pipes with a hair dryer!
- How to insulate exposed water pipes
- Prevent freezing pipes from causing water damage
- How to remove a stuck garden hose
As the Boy Scouts like to say, “Be prepared!” That’s especially true for any winterization or insulation project.
Before cold weather strikes, your pipes, faucets, and fixtures need to be protected. Otherwise, you could be in for a frustrating and enormously expensive flood.
1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage problem. We also handle the excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.