Winterizing the pipes in your home before cold weather sets in is a great plumbing tip. This is a task that many home owners start in early fall. When done properly, you can avoid having to call out an emergency plumber.
Benjamin Franklin Plumbing
While most outdoor winterizing focuses on caulking windows and sealing gaps, one area that is often overlooked is outdoor water faucets. These faucets are even more important to protect because they have no insulation from freezing temperatures. Making sure these faucets are nice and warm prevents an expensive, frozen mess if they break.
When to Start Winterizing Outdoor Faucets
The purpose of winterizing outdoor faucets is to prevent them from freezing up. Therefore, aim to protect all faucets before regular frost occurs. In northern climates frost can occur as early as October, while southern climates may be able to wait until November or December. However, you don’t have to wait to winterize the faucets. Once you are done gardening for the year, go ahead and get the job done while the weather is still nice.
Winterizing Outdoor Faucets in Mild to Moderate Climates
If you live in an area where temperatures do not stay below freezing for extended periods of time, you can insulate the faucets rather than shutting them off for winter. By properly insulating the faucets, you will protect them from damage, but still be able to use them if the weather turns mild.
First, examine the base of the faucet to see if it extends out of the house instead of sitting flush with the building’s exterior. If so, wrap the pipe with a 1-inch-thick layer of newspaper. Then wrap it in plastic, such as a garbage bag, to water proof it. Finally, secure all of it with duct tape or string. Use this same technique for outside faucets that extend straight up out of the ground.
Next, purchase an outdoor faucet cover and hang it over the exposed faucet itself. These covers are made of insulated material that keeps the internal temperature higher than the outside temperature.
Winterizing Outdoor Faucets in Cold Climates
If you live in a cold northern climate where freezing temperatures last most of the winter, you need to take more extreme measures. Locate the water shut-off valve for the outdoor faucet, which is typically located in the crawlspace, or basement. The valve is on the opposite side of the wall where the outdoor faucet is installed. Turn the handle clockwise to shut off the water flow in the pipe.
Go back outside and turn the handle on the faucet counterclockwise to open it fully. This allows any water trapped between the shutoff valve and the faucet to drain out. There is no need to re-close the faucet handle, although you can if you wish. Finish it off by covering the external faucet with an outdoor faucet cover.
Now that you know how to winterize outside faucets, make sure that you do it before the temperatures drop and you are fighting ice and snow. Winterizing a house indoors and outdoors will prevent costly repairs later.