Winter in the Pacific Northwest can be quite beautiful, with the occasional snowfall and the evergreens adding color to an otherwise gray landscape. But it can turn ugly fast when the temperatures dip below freezing. And while many of us know what to do to protect interior plumbing, a frozen outdoor faucet is also a concern.
Outdoor faucets are prone to get frozen during cold winter months due to the sudden drop in temperature. When the temperature reaches a certain threshold, usually below 32°F (0°C), the water within the pipes is at risk of freezing. This can increase pressure on the pipes and may even cause them to expand and eventually lead to burst pipes and water damage.
How do I know if I have a frozen outdoor faucet?
If you suspect that your outdoor faucet is frozen, there are a few ways to tell. First, check the temperature of the faucet; if it is cold to the touch, this could be a sign that it has frozen. Additionally, if water isn’t coming out when you turn on the tap, this could also indicate freezing.
To confirm freezing, feel around the pipe for any cracks or ice buildup; these would be indications that the pipe has frozen. If you have plumbing in the basement near the outdoor faucet (a half bathroom, laundry sink, etc.), you will want to check those outlets, too.
Common signs that interior pipes are frozen include cold temperatures, little to no water pressure, visible frost buildup on the pipe, and a crackling or whistling sound when running water. Additionally, if there is visible frost on your pipes or fixtures, this could indicate freezing.
To prevent interior pipes from freezing, make sure they are properly insulated and keep the basement area of your home warm if possible. If you suspect frozen pipes, take steps to thaw them out immediately before further damage is done.
Outdoor faucets are especially vulnerable to freezing due to their somewhat exposed nature. Since most outdoor faucets are mounted onto external walls or other exterior surfaces, they have less insulation than interior plumbing fixtures which better protects them from extreme temperatures.
Depending on how long those cold snaps last, a frozen outdoor faucet could actually lead to some pretty big issues on the interior plumbing of the home, too. All of the plumbing in your home is connected in one way or another. So if ice is creeping back into the house, it could affect any plumbing near these exterior pipes.
How do I prevent frozen outdoor faucets?
In order to prevent frozen outdoor faucets during cold weather months, homeowners should make sure that all their exterior fixtures have adequate pipe insulation. This means properly wrapping them with heat tape or installing foam covers over them. All garden hoses should be removed, the remaining water should be drained, and hose bib covers used before temperatures dip too low.
There are also “frost-free” hose bibs that can be installed. These bibs (outdoor faucets) resemble normal outdoor plumbing from the outside but have a few changes on the inside of the house. The shut-off valve is placed after a section of pipe further away from the freezing temps and is angled downward so all remaining water drains away.
Additionally, you should inspect their plumbing systems regularly for signs of damage or wear and tear that could lead to potential freezing issues later down the line. Taking these precautions will help keep your home’s outdoor faucets safe and functional no matter what Mother Nature throws at you!
How do I fix a frozen outdoor faucet?
Fixing a frozen outdoor faucet is a fairly common issue homeowners might face during the winter months. Freezing temperatures can cause the water inside the pipe to turn to ice, preventing any water from flowing out of the outdoor faucet. Fortunately, this issue is easily fixed with a few simple steps.
The first step in fixing a frozen outdoor faucet is to locate and close the shut-off valve for the water supply that controls it. This should be done before you attempt to work on the pipe or faucet itself, as it will prevent any further flooding or damage if something were to go wrong while you’re working.
Oftentimes, this valve can be found near where the pipes enter your home, usually located in your basement. However, if it’s not located there, you might have to locate another shut-off valve near the outside spigot itself. You may even need to go to the street where the water comes into your property.
To thaw a frozen outdoor faucet, start by ensuring that the garden hoses and all connected pipes are completely disconnected. Once this is done, you can apply heat to the pipe using either hot water or a hair dryer. Apply heat to the area of the pipe where you suspect it has frozen and move it in a circular motion until it begins to thaw out.
Make sure to keep the temperature of your heating source at a safe level so as not to cause further damage. Once the pipe is thawed, open the faucet to check that everything is functioning properly (make sure the main water valve is turned back on).
Frozen outdoor faucets causing problems? Call the pros.
Meticulous Plumbing has decades of experience working with plumbing issues, including pipes that have been damaged by frozen pipes. If you’re having issues with frozen plumbing–or any other issues with your plumbing–please don’t hesitate to give us a call! We look forward to working with you to get the water flowing again.