As the temperature drops, it’s essential to prepare your home’s plumbing system for the cold weather. One of the most vulnerable parts of your plumbing system during winter is the outdoor faucets.
While most outdoor taps have shut-off valves inside to cut off water flow, some older outdoor spigots do not. If you don’t have an indoor shut-off valve for your outdoor faucet, you’ll need to winterize it another way to prevent freezing damage.
In this article, we will discuss the ultimate guide on how to winterize outdoor faucets without a shut-off valve and keep them functioning smoothly even in extreme cold weather.
- Before Winterizing The Outside Faucet
- How To Winterize Outdoor Faucet Without Shut Off Valve?
- Should Outside Faucets Be Left Open In Winter?
- How Can I Check If My Home Has an Interior Shut-off Valve For The Outdoor Faucet?
Before Winterizing The Outside Faucet
Before beginning the winterization process, you first need to disconnect anything that is connected to your outdoor faucet.
This includes garden hoses, hose splitters, nozzle attachments, timers, backflow preventers, and any other accessories that may be screwed or connected to the faucet’s spout or pipes.
After detaching all hoses and accessories, turn the faucet handle to the open position.
Leave the faucet on to allow leftover water in the line to drain out completely. This is an important preliminary step, as any water standing in pipes or fittings can freeze, expand, and crack the faucet and plumbing.
Let the faucet run for a few minutes until the last drips spill out and no more water remains.
How To Winterize Outdoor Faucet Without Shut Off Valve?
Step 1: Disconnect and Drain Hoses
First, find the hose connection on your outdoor faucet. It’s usually located at the bottom of the faucet and may be covered with a cap or plug.
Before you start disconnecting the hose, turn off the main water supply to the faucet.
Now, carefully remove the hose from the faucet. If the hose is stuck, you can use a wrench or pliers to loosen it.
Once the hose is disconnected, hold it upwards and allow gravity to drain out any remaining water. You can also use a small amount of compressed air to blow out any water that’s left in the hose.
After draining the hose, coil it up and store it in a protected area away from frost. You can place it in a shed, garage, or basement.
Step 2- Wrap Pipe Insulation
The next main step for insulating your outdoor faucet is to wrap foam pipe insulation around the entire exposed portion where water comes out. This includes covering the spout/nozzle where hoses attach, as well as insulating any vertical pipes or adjoining pipe elbows leading behind the faucet.
As you wrap the foam insulation around the fixture, use the waterproof reinforced tape to secure it tightly in place.
Wrap tape around both ends of any insulation segments to bind it firmly to pipes. Also, tape any seam areas or places where insulation panels meet to prevent gaps.
When wrapping with insulation and waterproof tape around the faucet head itself, leave the actual faucet handle clear so it remains operable.
Double Layer Insulation For Extreme Cold
If you live in a region that experiences particularly frigid winter temperatures below 20°F, a single 1/2 inch layer of foam pipe insulation may not be enough to fully protect your outdoor faucet from freezing.
The best cold-weather insulation strategy is to double-wrap vulnerable pipes and fittings.
Step 3 – Add Heat Source If Needed
For outdoor faucets exposed to severe winter weather, pipe insulation alone may not guarantee sufficient freeze protection.
Adding an outdoor-rated heat source can provide critical extra warmth to sensitive pipes and fittings. This is especially important for regions prone to sub-zero temperatures persisting for weeks.
One supplemental heating option is electric heat tape. These power cords come in a variety of lengths and can be wrapped around exterior pipes.
Outdoor-approved heat tape is insulated and waterproofed to withstand all types of winter weather. Models rated for pipe freeze protection provide low-level warmth while using minimal electricity. Install heat tape after insulating pipes.
Step 4 – Install a Frost-free Faucet
A frost-proof spigot is a type of outdoor faucet that is designed to prevent the water inside the faucet from freezing during cold weather. This saves you the trouble of insulating standard faucets without shut-off valves every winter.
One reason that frost-free faucets effectively prevent freezing is their unique design. Frost-free outdoor faucet models have an elongated barrel that reaches deep into the warm indoor space.
This extra-long barrel positions the water supply pipes, connecting rod, and shut-off valve safely away from the frost line outside.
The outdoor faucet nozzle may still get cold. However, the supply pipework and water flow controls inside the insulated building stay warmer. This prevents ice expansion freeze-ups.
Should Outside Faucets Be Left Open In Winter?
No, it’s generally recommended to turn off and close outside faucets during the winter months to protect them from freezing temperatures and prevent damage.
When water is allowed to flow through an outside faucet, it can become vulnerable to freezing temperatures, which can cause the water inside the faucet to expand and potentially crack the faucet’s interior components. This can lead to costly repairs or even render the faucet unusable.
Additionally, leaving an outside faucet open can also allow debris and contaminants to enter the faucet and potentially clog it, which can reduce water pressure and affect the overall performance of the faucet.
It’s best to turn off the water supply to outside faucets and drain them thoroughly before the first frost to prevent any damage. You can also cover the faucet with a faucet cover or wrap it with insulation to protect it from the elements.
If you live in an area with extremely cold temperatures, it may be necessary to leave a small trickle of water running through the faucet to prevent it from freezing solid.
How Can I Check If My Home Has an Interior Shut-off Valve For The Outdoor Faucet?
Walk around your house and take note of the layout, especially any visible plumbing fixtures. Check for pipes or fixtures that lead outside, like near the foundation, walls, or outdoor living spaces. If you have a basement or crawl space, look for pipes extending from these areas to the outside.
In the basement, check the inside wall opposite the outdoor hose spigot for the shut-off valve. If you have drop tiles, remove one or two and look up in the ceiling for the valve. If you can’t find it, consider calling a pro plumber for help.
James Lewis is a seasoned plumber and faucet enthusiast who shares his expertise on Faucetsavvy.com. With over 15 years of experience in the plumbing industry, he’s passionate about helping homeowners find the perfect faucet for their needs. He’s also dedicated to empowering DIY enthusiasts with the plumbing knowledge and skills needed to repair and maintain their faucets.