When outside air temperatures get below freezing, your outside faucet can be destroyed and need replacing. You can prevent damage to your outside garden hose faucet (plumbers call this a “hosebibb” “hose bibb”, “hosebib”, or “sillcock”) from being damaged by taking a few simple steps.
Disclaimer: to ensure proper winter preparation you should always hire a professional to do this task and to make any necessary modifications or repairs prior to freezing weather. By following these directions the reader takes full responsibility for any and all subsequent consequences.
1) Go outside and disconnect everything from the outside faucet or hose bib (that means the hose shown here). Here is an example of one model of Frost-proof Anti-siphon garden hose faucet.
Note: If you have a properly installed “frost-proof” hose bib you are done. One way to determine if it is a frost-proof: the handle will be round and vertical relative to the ground. Most (standard, not frost-proof, washer based) hosebib handles are at a 45 degree angle relative to the ground. The problem I have seen with frost-proof hosebibs is that if they are not properly winterized the following can happen; In the Spring you go outside, attach a hose and do whatever you need to do, plenty of water and pressure. When you go back inside your home there is water all over the place. Oops.
Most older homes do not have frost proof hose bibs. If that is your situation, keep reading.
2) Just inside the house (usually) from the hosebib there is a shutoff valve. It will typically be in the ceiling area. Turn it off (round handle – rotate clockwise).
3) Go outside and turn on the faucet.
4) Go back inside the house with a pliers and small cup or bowl to catch water. There should be a small cap on the side of the shut off valve. Use the pliers to remove it and the bowl to catch water draining out (this valve is called a “stop and waste” or “stop and drain”).
5) Put the cap back on the shut off valve on the inside of the house. If you want to be extra cautious, do not tighten the cap. Rig up something below the cap to catch any water that may come out. If there is any dripping from the valve it is not closing completely (“bypassing”) and should be replaced.
In the spring
a) Tighten the cap on the valve inside the house (“Stop and Drain” valve).
b) Close the outside faucet
c) Open the shutoff valve inside the house.
d) Check for any drips or leaks at either location.
The foam covers that are sold do nothing except keep the snow off your outside faucet. The reason is that there is no heat source to keep it warm inside. The heat from the house cannot enter because it is being kept away by your INSULATION, duh. So therefore inside the foam at the faucet will be the same as the outside temperature.