How To Properly Drain Outdoor Faucets For Winter?

As the weather starts to cool down and the leaves begin to fall, homeowners across the country start to prepare their homes for the long, cold winter ahead. One often overlooked but crucial part of this preparation is winterizing outdoor faucets.

If you don’t properly drain and protect your outdoor faucets, it may lead to costly repairs and headaches come springtime.

In this blog post, I’ll show you how to properly drain your outdoor faucets for winter. This draining will help you avoid frozen pipes, burst fittings, and other common issues that can arise when water freezes.

Do You Need To Drain Outdoor Faucets For Winter?

Yes, it is recommended to drain outdoor faucets for winter to prevent damage from freezing temperatures.

Outdoor faucets are exposed to the elements and can be susceptible to freezing temperatures. It can cause the water inside the faucet to freeze and expand, potentially damaging the faucet and surrounding plumbing system.

Draining outdoor faucets for winter can help prevent several problems, including:

  1. Water left in outdoor faucets can freeze and expand, causing pipes to crack or burst. This can result in costly repairs and flooding.
  2. Frozen water can damage the internal components of outdoor faucets, such as the valve seat and O-rings, leading to leaks or reduced water pressure.
  3. Water left in outdoor faucets can mineralize and form deposits that can clog the faucet and reduce its lifespan.
  4. Standing water in outdoor faucets can create an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth, which can lead to unpleasant odors and health concerns.

How Do You Drain Outdoor Faucets For Winter?

How Do You Drain Outdoor Faucets For Winter

You should prepare your outdoor faucet for winter before starting the freezing temperature.

For this, you can check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map to find out when winter will arrive in your region. With the help of its data, you can decide at what is the right time to drain your outdoor faucet.

Materials Needed

  • Hose
  • Rag
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Compressor or compressed air canister (optional)

Turn off The Water Supply To Outdoor Faucets

Locate the shut-off valve that controls water flow to your outside faucets.

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You can find it near your main water meter inside your home, basement, or crawl space. Now use a water valve wrench to completely close the outdoor shut-off valve in the off position.

Open Outdoor Faucet To Allow Water To Drain Out Completely

After shutting off the water supply, go outside and turn on each outdoor faucet one at a time. Allow all remaining water in the pipes and fixtures to drain completely. This may take several minutes per faucet.

Disconnect Hoses From Outdoor Faucets

Now unscrew any garden hoses, pressure washers, or other accessories attached to outdoor faucets. Drain any excess water from disconnected items before storing them for winter.

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For Frost-Free Faucets

Outdoor frost-free faucets have a vacuum breaker top with a removable cap. Use a flathead screwdriver to pry off the cap and expose the inner vacuum seal.

Insert an air compressor nozzle or compressed air canister tip into the vacuum breaker opening. Blast compressed air through the line for 30-60 seconds to evacuate all water from the buried exterior pipe.

For Sillcock Faucets

Traditional sillcock faucets mounted above ground require complete removal. Use pipe wrenches to loosen and unthread the sillcock so you can fully extract it from the exterior wall.

Inside, locate the indoor shut-off valve specifically for that sillcock line. Re-open the indoor valve to allow all remaining exterior pipe water to drain out through the opening exposed after removing the exterior faucet.

Clean Fixtures Using a Rag

Use a lint-free cloth or rag to wipe down outdoor faucet joints and connections after draining. Remove dirt, grime, mineral deposits, and other buildup. Proper cleaning prevents corrosion and keeps fixtures working smoothly.

Consider Installing Insulated Faucet Covers For Extra Protection

For additional winter protection, wrap outdoor faucet fixtures with insulation covers or foam insulator kits. This provides extra protection against freezing temps.

How Long Does It Take To Drain Outdoor Faucet?

If the outdoor faucet is a simple garden hose bib, it may take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to drain completely, depending on the water pressure and flow rate.

Is It OK If The Outside Faucet Freezes?

It is generally not okay if an outside faucet freezes, as it can cause damage to the faucet and surrounding pipes.

When water freezes, it expands and can cause the metal to crack or break, leading to leaks and other issues. Additionally, if the frozen water is not addressed, it can cause further damage to the plumbing system, potentially resulting in costly repairs.

If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing, it’s important to take steps to protect your outside faucets from freezing.

If your outside faucet does freeze, it’s important to thaw the outdoor faucet slowly and carefully to prevent damage. You can try using a hair dryer or heat gun to gently warm the faucet and pipes or letting it thaw naturally over time. Avoid using sharp objects or hitting the faucet to try to break the ice, as this can cause damage to the faucet and pipes.

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