When January and February roll around, many homeowners start to become concerned about the risk of water freezing in their house’s water lines.
Protect Outdoor Hose Bibs from Freezing Temperatures
Even outdoor faucets are at risk. Water that freezes inside the supply line to an outside wall-mounted hose bib can cause the pipe to split, resulting in water damage inside the house, typically in the basement. The damage may or may not be immediately discovered, depending on the plumbing installation design and the location of the damage, such as behind drywall, or other home improvement products.
Whether your house has a frost-free or a standard hose bib, the first step in protecting your pipes from freezing is to disconnect the hose, and remove such accessories like a diverter, timer, and snap connectors from the bib to allow as much standing water as possible to drain from the hose bib.
Older homes may not have an updated plumbing design, which would include supply lines that feed outdoor plumbing. Such updates could include a frost free hose bib, or even a turn-off valve on the supply line inside the house that feeds the hose bib. My house built in the 1950′s, for instance, lacks both of these updates. With this older type of plumbing design, the water gets turned-off outside at the hose bib (or spigot). Water remains in the section of pipe that extends from inside of the house to the hose bib, where it is at risk of freezing and splitting the pipe.
If your house does have an inside turn-off valve on the line to the hose bib, turn that valve off first, then open the hose bib outside to drain any remaining water from the line.
One way to help prevent water sitting in the hose bib’s supply pipe from freezing is to use an insulated hose bib cover. This cover has a simple design and is very easy to install, and are available at the home improvement store. It is constructed of thick Styrofoam with foam edging for gaps, and has a flexible plastic cord to secure it up against the house. The cord has a loop at one end that fits around the spout, and a button at the other end that holds the cover in place when it is slid up against the cover.
The cover may not necessarily be one size fits all situations. The house’s veneer might be stone or narrow clapboard siding. If this is the case, an extra piece of thick foam from the fabric store could be used to fill gaps. Cut the piece of foam a bit larger than the bib cover, then make a slice or cut in the center of the foam to slip it around the bib. After the foam piece is in place against the house, secure the insulated cover up against the foam.
The cover creates an insulating air space around the bib, and helps to prevent the water in the supply line from being exposed to freezing temperatures. This protective cover is great for those houses that do not have an inside turn-off valve, and it can be an extra line of defense for any wall-mounted hose bib.
Other Insulating Products
If you would like to insulate your hose bib, but prefer to use a different type of product, these insulated bag styles (hose bib or ground faucet) use Thinsulate™ material to help protect your outdoor plumbing.
If you took the time to read this article, you are probably very concerned about protecting your hose bibs and their supply lines from freezing temperatures. These insulating protective covers really don’t cost much (from around $2 to about $10 for a wall-mounted hose bib, a little more for larger sizes), and they’re reusable, too.