Hosed: Outside Faucet Crisis

Hosebib Summer time is here and most of us have begun watering our lawns, washing our vehicles, and catching up on landscaping projects. Some of us are finding out quickly that this winter’s hard freeze is still reeking havoc on our home’s plumbing systems.

Some of the most common instances of pipes bursting due to a hard freeze are ironically the most preventable. A burst pipe in a wall can cause a lot of damage along with a huge mess in a hurry. Outside faucets (hose bibs) are the most vulnerable fixture in a home due to freezing. They invariably protrude from outside walls and most people will not discover that they froze up until the following spring.

Outside faucets must be frost-proof in order to be up to code. The washer that closes the valve seats up against an opening must be placed far enough back so that the water doesn’t get near the outside where it can freeze, bursting the pipe due to expansion. 

By design, frost-proof hose bibs release water that has been sitting in the faucet after it is shut off. The purpose of this design is defeated when the homeowner leaves the hose attached to the hose bib. The faucet cannot drain if the hose is attached.

In the majority of cases this turns out to be the cause of a burst hose bib. Since the washer is pressed up against the seat when the valve closes, the water will not leak until the faucet is turned on allowing the 50 psi of city water pressure to dump inside of the wall. Since some water comes out of the faucet, it can go unnoticed until the water presents itself inside or outside of the home. This can cause damage to expensive flooring, dry wall, and studs supporting the wall.

There are two steps, following the last time you used your hose, to make sure that this doesn’t happen:

1 – Insulate the exposed hose bib from the elements. This can be done simply by wrapping a towel around it, but the recommended implement is a $3-4 item from any hardware store – a Styrofoam cup that fits over your hose bib and fastened by a rubber strap
2 – Remove the hose from the hose bib when the temperature gets cold enough to freeze

These simple steps can save you a lot of money and give you peace of mind. Your qualified plumber can make sure that your faucet is working properly and the safety devices on them are functioning properly. If you have plans to leave your home during the winter months, contact your plumber to winterize your home’s plumbing systems before you head out.

Call us to schedule an appointment if you’re noticing any signs of damage that may have come from the freezes we experienced in North Texas earlier this year, 972-424-6479.

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