Frost-Free Hose Bibs Can Freeze!

frost-free-hose-bibLast year’s renovations included adding a much-needed outdoor hose bib to replace the hose snaking through the cellar and out through a hole drilled in the old wooden entry doors. Our plumber installed one of the “frost-free” bibs that are about 14 inches long which effectively shut the water off “inside” the house thus preventing freeze-ups.

I used the outside tap late into the fall and never gave it another thought as the weather got colder and then downright frigid through the winter months.

Spring arrived and it was time to hook up the hose to wash the car, water the garden and give the dog that long-needed bath. So how come water was coming out of the hole around the pipe where it came through the siding?

bulged-pipeTurns out that they’re as vulnerable to freeze-ups as a regular tap unless you winterize it before the temperature plummets at the end of the season.

In my case the pipe may have had a slight incline back toward the house allowing water to sit in the pipe on the cold side of the shutoff (and basement insulation).
Bottom line? It froze — causing the pipe to bulge and split near the threads.

Here’s how to prevent it:

1. Look for an inside shutoff valve on the pipe several feet inside the basement. Turn it off.
2. Open the outside tap to remove any water in the pipe and leave it open.
3. If there’s a petcock on the side of the inside shutoff valve, open it to drain any water left in the pipe.

petcock-valveThis simple procedure will drain all the water out of the pipe no matter which way it may slope and prevent winter freeze-ups.

Lesson learned… if I remember to do it next fall.

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