Prepare your Outdoor Faucet for the winter

Approx Reading Time: 8 minutes

When winter approaches, the temperature of our surroundings begins to drop so quickly that water becomes ice in no time. Ice expands and will use more space than when it is in its liquid state. This characteristic is hazardous for pipes, as they tend to burst open upon expansion. Since they're already filled with water, there's not enough room for ice to expand when it freezes. Hence, something has to make way for this expansion, and it's usually the pipe, valves, joints, or all three.

Prepare your outdoor faucet for the winter:

  • Close the Shut Off Valve for the Faucet
  • Disconnect the Hoses
  • Check for Leaks in your Spigots
  • Close the Shut Off Valve for the Faucet
  • Drain the Spigot
  • Install Outdoor Faucet Covers
Prepare your Outdoor Faucet for the winter 1

To not damage your faucet, it is essential to take the necessary precautions before the winter months. Preparing your outdoor faucet for winter is generally easy to do; all you need to do (depending on your installation) is use insulated covers that fit over the spigots, and you're good to go. Once you do this- along with a few easy winterizing procedures, you'll be able to prevent your outdoor faucets from rupturing due to the cold weather. Do you want to know how to winterize your outdoor faucet for the winter properly? You have come to the right place. In this article, we have provided some simple steps to follow to prepare your outdoor faucet for the winter. 

Why Is It Important to Winterize your Outdoor Faucet?

While most outdoor faucets are designed to withstand freezing temperatures, they can still freeze if a hose is left on the tap over the winter. Leaving a hose on the spigot allows water to get trapped inside the faucet, and this water becomes frozen in the winter. To prevent this, carefully inspect the perimeter of your home, and remove all attached hoses from the outdoor faucets. Once you have done that, drain any water remaining in the pipe completely.

Just removing the water hose from your outdoor faucet is still not enough to prevent freezing. You must completely shut off the water from the supply source. Any water trapped in the body or pipe of your faucet will freeze when it gets too cold, causing the body of the faucet to burst. If this occurs while you're away, there would be a leak from the faucet,  which will end up flooding inside of your home. If you don't have a detection means, you won't know it until it's too late.

On the bright side, the warmer your home is, the less likely it is for any plumbing to freeze. So try to keep your home warm all through the winter. You can open cabinet doors on freezing nights to allow more heat to reach the pipes.

Winterize your Outdoor Faucet

As stated earlier, most outdoor spigots are specially made to withstand freezing or are said to be freeze-proof. However, there is still no guarantee that in the coldest weather, these faucets will not end up frozen. So you can decide to install well-insulated outdoor faucet covers to be on a safer side. Another excellent option for avoiding faucet problems is installing freeze-proof spigots- but this is usually a long-term option. This is best done during the fall when the weather is still above freezing.

Not winterizing your outdoor faucet properly can cause a lot of damage and high repair costs. These damages can extend far into the home, causing damage to walls or even the foundation. Ideally, pipe ruptures occur mostly inside the walls, and not at the faucet, and this can lead to severe structural damage. Hence, to prevent flooding and high repair costs, you must prepare your outdoor faucets for winter. Below are some easy steps on how to properly winterize your outdoor faucet for the winter:

Close the Shut Off Valve for the Faucet

As mentioned earlier, you can close the valve that controls the flow of water into your outdoor faucets, right from the comfort of your home. Carrying out this operation is essential because an accidental freeze can cause damage to your shut-off valve. And when the shut-off valve is broken, you can only close the main house valve to stop the flow of water, but it means you do not have water in your house. In case your shut-off valves are very close to the outer part of your home, it is highly recommended to move them further into your home to protect them from extremely low temperatures.

Disconnect the Hoses

Regardless of the kind of outdoor faucet that you have, it is essential to disconnect any hoses, pipes, or any fittings attached to the spigot before wintertime. Leaving the hoses connected until winter can cause water to be trapped in, making it easier for the faucet to freeze. For most people that like to use water outside until this point in the winter when water starts to freeze, this would seem like a quite tricky step. However, it is better to let go of a little comfort to avoid maximum risk or damage. Stay ahead of the cold weather by removing all hoses early-not later than October to enjoy a stress-free winter.

Check for Leaks in your Spigots

The next step is to carefully inspect your outdoor faucets for leaks and breakage and repair them. Inspect all spigots, yard hydrants, and other attachments for traces of leakage or drips. In case of any, do not hesitate to call on experts for immediate repair (you can fix it yourself if you're capable) before the temperature drops to freezing level. Drips usually mean that the spigot has a leaky washer or cartridge, which can freeze in the spigot or block up the pipe feeding it. So make sure you minimize the risk of damage by repairing any detected leak before winter sets in.

Drain the Spigot

The next step in properly winterizing your outdoor faucets is by draining as much water out of the pipes as possible. If your outdoor faucet is not freeze-proof, it is best to shut off the line, if you can, and drain the water from it completely. You can achieve this by closing the shut-off valve leading the water line leading to the spigot. Next, open the spigot and leave it open for a couple of hours or until the water inside has completely drained. Once you have made sure the water has drained out, close the spigot again. All these must be done when the temperature is above the freezing level.

Install Outdoor Faucet Covers

The final step in winterizing outdoor faucets is to insulate them for maximum protection. There's an easy way to do this, and it is by installing an outdoor faucet cover on all your outdoor spigots, including the freeze-proof spigots. To keep them warm and dry during the winter, cover the regular spigot with extra loose insulation, installed inside the faucet cover. However, this is not always compulsory as the faucet cover will provide adequate insulation against the coldest weather. For frost-free faucets, they may not require extra insulation as they come with rubber gaskets and washers to provide additional protection from the cold.

Faucet covers usually come in one of these two styles: they are either made with rigid thermal foam that has a flexible gasket at the edges, or they come as flexible insulated bags that keep the spigots secured. Both styles of faucet cover provide great insurance against breakage, rupture, or split due to freezing, but they have to be installed correctly, so they seal tightly around the base of the faucet to function correctly. Faucet covers work by trapping the heat that radiates through the interior pipes to the outdoor faucet. This insulated cover then prevents the radiated heat from escaping by holding it in, preventing water in the tap from freezing or expanding, and damaging the faucet. You may be wondering where to buy them. Most faucet covers can be easily found in your neighborhood hardware stores or household improvement stores. Another great feature of these covers is that they are usually inexpensive and relatively easy to install. Also, these covers can be reused for many years if used correctly; hence, you can consider them a good investment.

Final remarks

Winterizing your outdoor faucets is generally easy to do, and it comes with a lot of benefits. Protecting your outdoor faucets during winter does not require any special experience or heavy physical activity. Just make sure you follow the above steps before winter sets in. When winter finally comes to an end, remove the faucet covers and store them for use in the following year. We hope that this piece will help you in winterizing your outdoor faucets. Good luck.