Winter is coming. You’re welcome, Game of Thrones fans. But really, winter is coming, which means that it’s time to start taking precautions when it comes to your outdoor faucets.
Water expands when it freezes. In fact, ice takes up 10% more space than liquid water does. When it comes to your pipes, this is a very bad thing. They’re already full with liquid water, so there isn’t any play room for ice to expand when it get’s cold. Something has to give, and it’s usually the pipe, valves, joints, or all three. Ice has a mind of its own, and outdoor faucets are vulnerable to its sneaky expanding ways. The following steps will only take a short amount of time out of your day, and they could save you a lot of money and inconvenience in the long run. Here’s what you can do to keep ice and mother nature from conspiring against you.
Close the Shut Off Valve for the Faucet
Did you know that you can close the shut-off valve that controls the flow of water to the outdoor faucets from inside the comfort of your home? This is important because an accidental freeze can damage your shut-off valve and make it impossible to stop the flow of water. If your shut-offs are very close to the outer wall of your home, it might be a good idea to move them back further into your home to protect them from a potentially frosty situation.
Disconnect Your Hoses
It is extremely important to remove hoses, splitters, and/or connections from the spigot during the winter. By not removing hoses or other connections, the hose bib will likely trap water and cause the fixture to freeze. Many people like to use their outside water until the weather is too cold, but it’s important to disconnect it before the freezing temperatures set in. Just one night of freezing weather can cause a break in the pipes, so take precautions early.
Check for Leaks
Be sure to check your hose bibs, yard hydrants and other fixtures for leaks and drips that need to be repaired. All repairs need to be made before winter begins. Dripping water can block up and freeze in the pipe or fixture. You may not even notice your frozen outdoor faucet until it’s too late, so be sure to minimize the potential of damage by repairing the leak before the temperature drops.
Protect your outside faucets with insulation. This can be accomplished through installing a hose bib cover on each outdoor fixture including frost free hose bibs. These covers are square or dome-shaped to fit right over outdoor faucets with ease, and they’re made with this foam material so they can effectively keep the cold temperatures away from the valve. Extra insulation for non-drainable hose bibs can be installed inside the cover to keep it warm and dry throughout the cold months. This is just an extra precautionary step, and in most cases,the hose bib cover will provide enough insulation to prevent freezing.
Hose bib covers can be easily found in most hardware or home improvement stores, and they’re inexpensive and easy to install. Covers can usually be reused for several years, so they are a good investment. For just a few bucks, you can “winterize” outside faucets quickly and then move on to the other winterizing plumbing tasks.
Frost free hose bibs should be covered as well. This is because even though they are made to resist frost, they aren’t completely frost proof in extremely cold temperatures. The rubber gaskets and washers inside frost free bibs need extra protection from the cold that a hose bib cover can provide.
How We Can Help
St. Matthews Plumbing is a locally owned company based in the heart of Louisville. Being centrally located we are able to respond quickly to any needs that may arise. If you’d like to schedule an appointment or have an emergency repair need, call us at (502) 822-5350 or click here to schedule an appointment.