If you live in a region where temperatures outside can go below freezing in the winter, then you should protect your outside water faucets by draining the water completely out of them. Even your faucets are frost-free style valves, you need to take a few minutes to drain them, just in case they were not installed properly.
When water freezes, it expands by about 9%. And when freezes inside of your outside water faucet or related piping, this expansion can exert over 100,000 psi of force, which is more than enough to rupture your faucet or pipe, causing a flood inside your home.
DRAINING YOUR OUTSIDE WATER FAUCETS
Here are the 5 easy steps for draining the water out of your outside water faucets for the winter:
STEP 1: Close inside valve
Find the valve inside your home that is the closest valve to the wall of the pipe that goes through to your outside water faucet.
STEP 2: Drain inside valve
Unscrew drain plug from inside valve. Place a small bucket under this inside valve, and unscrew the small drain plug on the side of this valve. This will allow the water in the valve to drain out.
STEP 3: Disconnect garden hose (if there).
STEP 4: Open outside valve
Allow any trapped water out. Then close. . . . and finally,
STEP 5: Put back the drain plug on the inside valve.
Then after the winter, to use your outside faucet again you just need to re-open the inside valve. But you will want to first double-check to be sure that the outside faucet is closed before you open the inside valve, so you don’t have water gushing outside.
Here are some things that you will also want to consider regarding protecting your outside water faucets during the winter:
Keeping the inside valve un-covered.
You will want to be sure that there are no boxes, blankets, etc. covering your inside water valve. Covering up this inside valve acts like insulation, and can keep the warm air inside your home from circulating around your inside water valve. And without this warm air, the valve and related piping next to your outside wall can freeze and burst, causing a flood in your home.
Most newer homes have frost-free type valves installed for their outside water faucets. These valves are about a foot or so long, and are designed so that when you turn the faucet on the outside wall, that it actually moves a valve at the other end of it, which is located beyond your inside wall, so that it stays warm.
If you have a frost-free faucet, then you might be tempted to skip draining your outside faucets for the winter. However, if the faucet was not installed properly, for example, if it was not given the proper slope to ensure that water drains completely out when it is closed, then it could still be damaged by freezing over the winter.
Since the procedure is so simple for draining your faucets, we recommend doing it even if you have frost-free faucets, as additional assurance that you don’t end up with a flood in your home (see costs and reviews of frost-free faucets).
Alternative Options to Preventing Faucets from Freezing During the Winter
Insulated faucet covers are mitts that can be placed over your outside faucets for the winter (see costs and reviews of insulated faucet covers). Although they do help keep in some of the heat that is conducted from inside your home, we do not recommend insulated covers as a substitute for draining your outside faucets. Especially if you are in a region of the country where the weather can be below freezing for several days, and your faucets are in the shade and exposed to strong cold winds.
Garden hose removal.
And finally, we recommend that you be sure to disconnect your garden hose from your outside water faucet. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- if there is water in the house, and this freezes, then the expansion of the frozen water can push back into your valve and damage it.
- we suggest that you drain your hose and bring your garage or basement for the winter, rather than leave it outside where the water in it can freeze and damage it.
- If you are going to leave it outside in a shed, then we suggest that you completely drain or use a compressor to remove all of the water from it.
We hope this article and video has shown you how easy it is to drain your outside water faucets, so that you don’t have to worry about the freezing weather this winter causing a flood in your home.