It’s Time To Winterize Your Outdoor Faucets and Valves

Just like medicine, prevention is the name of the game in plumbing, and in home ownership, to prevent costly problems. If you are an Arizona homeowner and are worried about freezing pipes, very simple precautions can save time and money. We’ll look into why you need to protect your faucets and valves and how to do it, so the residual water left in the water line won’t freeze and then cause a pipe to burst and ultimately start filling your home up with water in all the wrong places. To prevent this, it is necessary to winterize outdoor faucets and valves.

Do I need to winterize outside faucets? In Arizona?

Surely you may be asking yourself, I live in Arizona, do I even need to winterize outside faucets? The answer may be yes, depending on where you live in Arizona. Although we have notoriously hot temperatures in most of Arizona, some months of the year in Arizona it gets a little chilly and is still necessary to winterize some outside faucets, which are also called bibbs or hose bibbs. The temperature drops low enough to require some preventative plumbing precautions. Remember to unhook the hose and winterize outdoor faucets and valves.

If you have a home in the high country, you may already know that you do need to prepare for winter when it comes to plumbing. Homeowners in Flagstaff, Pinetop, Grand Canyon area and Show Low may show freezing mornings in early October.

 At what temperature do outdoor faucets freeze?

There are several factors at play in determining this. For example insulation on the exterior wall, if the interior pipes are insulated, what direction the faucets are facing in relation to the sun and the temperatures. Taking these items into account when the temperatures are around 28 degrees or below may give you an idea if you need to take action on your outdoor faucets to protect your home from freezing pipes.

What happens if outside faucets freeze?

When temperatures dip to 28 degrees or below, and the outside faucets freeze, ice can form in the water supply pipes that lead to those exposed outdoor faucets. If your outdoor faucets aren’t properly prepared for winter, water damage from frozen pipes may occur. If this happens you will want to call a plumber to fix it. Here are a few steps that the plumber will get started on.

  • Turn off your water main and/or the one that leads to the outdoor main.
  • Unscrew the nut that holds the faucet together. There is a rubber seal that stops the water well inside the wall.
  • Change the little seal and put the faucet back together.

 How do you winterize an outdoor faucet?

  • Check the faucet for leaks. Make sure your exterior faucets are not leaking any water.  If they are leaking, fix the leaks before taking the next steps.
  • Drain them. Before the first freeze, remove all hoses from outdoor spigots, drain them, and store them. If your home has a cutoff valve, cut the water, then turn on the exterior faucet until it runs dry. 
  • Replace them. Switch your old fixtures out for newer frost-free hose bibbs, which are more frost-resistant than older versions.
  •  Insulate them. Exterior faucet covers are available at hardware stores. 

If, at any point, you do encounter a plumbing problem you can’t fix, be sure to contact a plumber. Who needs more problems, right?

How do I know if my faucet is freeze-proof?

Telling the difference between frost-proof and freeze-proof faucets.  

  1. If the handle is on an angle tilting up, it is NOT frost-proof.
  2. A frost-proof faucet has a long tube that extends indoors and is screwed or soldered to the water pipe.
  3. When you turn off the water on a non frost-proof bibb the water stops immediately. 
  4. If you leave a hose attached to the frost-proof faucet after the winter weather arrives the water cannot dribble out when it is turned off. Your frost-proof faucet can be damaged by freezing. They are frost-proof but not goof-proof.

If you understand how an outdoor faucet works you can also recognize the difference. A regular, non-frost-free outdoor faucet has a handle that turns a short shaft. As the handle turns clockwise a pad on the other end of the shaft plugs a hole, shutting off water flow.

But a frost-proof faucet has a long shaft in a tube so that when it is installed outdoors the pad and hole positioned through the wall indoors. And, the handle can’t be placed at a convenient angle. So, frost-proof outdoor faucets tend to look like this:

When temperatures drop, we may only think we need to grab a blanket while indoors and maybe even check which outdoor plants need protection. But, in truth, we also need to prepare some of our plumbing for winter. And, by being proactive with your plumbing in the Fall, this can save your pipes.

We Can Help

So, call Phend Plumbing today at 480-388-6093 and get an estimate on a freeze-proof faucet. Phend Plumbing can install freeze and frost-proof valves, bibbs and faucets and keep your home running smoothly through all the seasons. Happy plumbing means a happy home.