Is your outdoor plumbing ready for winter? It still makes sense to winterize outdoor faucet plumbing in Portland even after the first frost of the season. With how the weather changes in the Pacific Northwest, it makes sense to prepare for cold temperatures that could be right around the corner.
You are probably familiar with the foam domes that go over the spigot (otherwise known as a hose bib), but there is more you can do to winterize outdoor faucets. Many of these steps can be done by you, the homeowner, and will go a long way to preventing outdoor faucets from freezing.
Winterize Outdoor Faucets
When freezing temperatures are on the horizon, it’s time to protect your home’s plumbing. Because it’s all connected at some point, here’s how you can safeguard both exterior and interior plumbing:
- Hose Bib Covers
- Shut Off Valves
- Frost Free Faucets
- Pipe Insulation
Check all your outdoor faucets and look for damage that needs repairing. If you find openings around the hose bib, you can fill the area with insulation. Many home improvement stores sell expanding foam that will fill all nooks and crannies. They may not have much R-value, but it will prevent cold temps, winds, etc. from getting in behind the walls.
Also, remove all garden hoses, splitters, or other fittings that you have attached to the hose bib. That will make it easier for any remaining water to drip out. And you’ll protect them from freezing as well by storing them in a shed, garage, or an interior utility closet.
Hose Bib Covers
Even though it may not seem like much protection, when you install an outdoor faucet cover, you protect the faucet from the brutally cold winds that come blowing through.
If your outdoor faucets have shut-off valves, shut off the water and open the tap to drain the lines. You can leave the faucets open until next spring. If your faucet has a back-flow preventer you’ll need to disconnect it to let the water drain out. The key is to get as much of the water out of the line leading to the hose bib.
Frost Free Faucets
Sometimes referred to as frost proof, frost-free spigots are designed to keep any water in the line from freezing by keeping it away from the exterior wall of your home. Installing this type of hose bib is more involved than a regular outdoor faucet because the stopper is located further down the line than in normal outdoor faucets.
If you want to install a frost-free faucet, we recommend you replace the fixture before the temperature drops so you’re prepared.
Pipe insulation is your best friend if your faucets don’t have shut-off valves. Wrap your faucet with foam insulation and place a styrofoam cap on top. There is also heated tape you can put around exposed pipes under the house, but it needs access to electricity. You can find everything you need to take care of your outdoor spigots at your local hardware or plumbing supply store.
Pipes don’t burst at the point where they freeze. They break from water pressure, usually somewhere between a closed faucet and the frozen section of pipe. When you protect your outdoor plumbing during freezing weather, you reduce the risk of a broken pipe in an exterior wall.
Pipes in exterior walls are vulnerable to cold weather and will cause a lot of damage if they break. Water from a broken pipe will quickly flood your house. If you aren’t around to immediately turn the water off, your home could sustain thousands of dollars worth of damage. If you suspect a plumbing problem or think your pipes have frozen, turn off the water supply and contact a plumber right away.
Other Ways to Protect Your Home During Winter
Sprinkler systems need draining and winterizing. You should consult your system’s manual to learn how to take care of the pipes and spigots. You may be able to find the manual on the manufacturer’s website. Winterizing a sprinkler system can be a multi-step job, and you might need a professional to help you out.
Clean your home’s gutters before the weather in Oregon gets cold and wet. Clogged gutters can lead to standing water. That water, combined with pine needles, leaves, and debris can promote rot, mold, or mildew. The backed-up water could leak under shingles, into the roof, or between walls. Freezing water can cause the gutters to expand and break, creating a cold and dirty mess.
Contact Meticulous Plumbing for winter plumbing help. We’re here for you in fair or foul weather.