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How to Winterize Outdoor Faucets

How to Winterize Outdoor Faucets

Cold weather can be rough on your plumbing. Whether it’s indoor or outdoor faucets, you need to prepare your plumbing for freezing temperatures. Freezing damage from exposed outdoor faucets can extend far into the home. Pipe ruptures usually occur inside the walls, not at the faucet and can cause serious structural damage. You need to prepare your outdoor faucets for winter to avoid hundreds of gallons of water pouring into the walls of your home.

This warning also applies to other outdoor plumbing fixtures as well. The information provided in this blog will focus on outdoor faucets, but it is also applicable to other outdoor fixtures.

Steps to Prepare Your Outdoor Faucet for Winter

  1. Locate Your Home's Outdoor Fixtures. The first step is to locate all outdoor fixtures. You need to be aware of where all your outdoor fixtures are located and where they feed into your house. Make sure you note where all external attachment points are located. Once you’ve located all outdoor faucets, ensure there are no hoses still attached. Any pipes, hoses, or attachments to outdoor faucets can contain water and potentially freeze and burst during cold weather.
  2. Drain Any Remaining Water From The Pipes. Once you’ve located all outdoor fixtures, take the time to drain them. Remove external attachments, drain hoses and sprinklers, and make sure there’s no residual water with the potential to freeze if left out. It’s best to perform this step before cold weather sets in to make sure there’s no residual water left in the faucet pipes themselves.
  3. Turn The Water Off. The next step will be to shut off the water running to your outdoor faucets and/or fixtures. Go back inside your house and locate the main water shutoff valve. Now locate the individual shutoff valve for each supply line feeding into an outdoor faucet or fixture. Typically these are lever-style valves, so they should be pretty easy to use and operate. Additionally, most modern plumbing will have a bleed cap to help with draining residual water leftover in the pipe. Once you’ve located the water shutoff for your outdoor fixtures, turn it off.
  4. Drain Water Once More. Now go outside and open the faucet to drain any residual water. Once that water has drained out, return inside to the bleeder cap mentioned earlier. Any remaining water should have drained into the bleeder cap,  empty that out into a bucket to catch the excess. Put the bleeder cap back into position and close the outdoor faucet.
  5. Add Outdoor Faucet Cover. A final and optional step that can be taken to winterizing outdoor faucets is to install a protective cover over them. These covers are designed to insulate and protect the spigots. Even frost-free spigots can benefit from having a cover applied over it.

That’s it! Your outdoor faucet or fixture is winterized! However, there are some exceptions to this process, specifically in the case of older houses.

Winterizing Plumbing in Older Houses

In some older houses, there is no individual shutoff valve for outdoor faucets. You won’t be able to follow the steps above and might have some issues draining the pipe in preparation for freezing weather. There are a couple of ways to handle this.

The first is to contact a professional plumber to have them retrofit your pipes. Typically they’ll install a frost-free faucet that ensures the water can remain on year-round. These ensure your pipes won’t be damaged from outside weather and you can rest worry-free knowing there is no risk of bursting. Alternatively, some retailers stock faucet insulation kits. These kits are designed to be fitted onto an existing faucet during specific seasons and removed during the rest of the year. They’ll help insulate your pipes, but they’ll require maintenance and you need to remember to install them when the weather demands.

Prepare the Right Way

Winterizing your outdoor faucet doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it is pretty easy! Just follow the steps outlined above and you shouldn’t have any issues. If you need help preparing other fixtures or the rest of your outdoor plumbing, contact Pilgrim Plumbing today to have a professional help.

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