How to Winterize an Outdoor Faucet Without a Shut-Off Valve

Pipes bursting from the cold winter temperatures can be an expensive problem to have. A great way to protect your pipes against this is by winterizing your outdoor faucet! This is where the frozen water creeps into your home, so reinforcing it against the cold will help keep your pipes warm on those cold winter nights.

Shutting off the water supply is the first step in winterizing your home. If you do not have an outdoor shut-off valve, you will simply turn off the water in your home. After a few minutes of draining the outdoor pipe, you can turn your home water supply back on and continue winterizing. 

Winterizing your outdoor faucet, with or without a shut-off valve, is so easy anyone can do it! Whether or not you have a shut-off valve or not will change only a few steps in winterizing your faucet. So follow along to understand this process and be able to prepare your home for the winter to come!

Do Outdoor Faucets Usually Have a Shut Off Valve? 

The majority of building codes do require a shut-off valve for outdoor faucets, but there are a few that do not. It largely depends on where you live, but you can generally expect to have one in your home. Knowing if you have one is important to begin the winterizing process of your faucets.

The first step in preparing your faucets for winter is to shut off the water valve. If you do not have one you can still move forward in this process. However, you should double-check to be sure it is turned off so that you do not have to deal with flowing water as you set the faucet up.

What Does Winterizing Your Outdoor Faucet Mean?

Winterizing is a peculiar word, but it means setting up for the effects of chilly winter weather. In relation to your faucet, it means installing measures that will protect your faucet and pipes from freezing in cold temperatures. It is more of a slang term, but the effects of winterizing can be very helpful in protecting your home.

When temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, pipes inside your home are susceptible to freezing and bursting. Winterizing your outdoor faucet will protect the ice blockages from occurring in the pipes of your home. It can save you a lot of money by preventing your pipes from bursting.

What Will I Need To Winterize My Outdoor Faucet?

Essentially, you will only need to buy two items to winterize your outdoor faucet. These are a faucet cover and a frost-free faucet. These two items will protect your faucet from freezing, thereby protecting your pipes as well.

If you tackle this project when it is cold outside you will also need some warm clothes and gloves to stay warm. The faucet cover can be installed with just your hands, but the frost-free faucet may need a wrench or screwdriver to install. You should examine the instructions for the faucet you get in order to know exactly what you will need.

Where is my Outdoor Faucet Shut-Off Valve? 

Outdoor faucet shut-off valves vary depending on your home. Typically, they are in a basement, crawl space, or utility closet. Another way to find this valve is to follow the path of the water pipe. Start at your outdoor faucet and trace the pipe to where it connects to the main plumbing line.

In other cases, shut-off valves are located by your water meter. It is most common to have a valve like this, but if you do not find it in any of these places you may not have one. Shutting off the water is the first step to winterizing your pipes, so be sure to locate this valve before you begin!

How Do I Winterize An Outdoor Faucet Without a Shutoff Valve? 

It is very easy to winterize your outdoor faucet. Engaging a shut-off valve simply keeps the water from flowing as you winterize it. Even if you do not have this valve, it is very doable on your own.  Here are the simple steps to winterizing your outdoor faucet without a shutoff valve.

Step 1: Remove the Hose – 100 words

The first step to any project is setting up your working space. In this case, it is clearing out the water from your outdoor pipes. To start this, locate the pipe inside your home that leads to the outdoor faucet, usually in your basement or garage. Identifying this will come into play later.

Then you will need to remove the hose from the faucet if there is one connected. Even if you are simply installing a faucet cover, you will want the faucet clear of items as you work on it. It is best to drain the hose and then store it horizontally, so no water freezes inside during the winter. 

Step 2: Turn Off Main Water and Drain the Faucet 

Next, it is time to drain the faucet so that there is not water left to freeze up when the cold comes. You will turn off the main water flow for your entire home with the main water valve. This valve can be in the home, basement, crawlspace, utility closet, or by the water meter.

Once the water is shut off, then open your outdoor faucet. This will pump all the water left over in these pipes to flow outside. That way no water in these pipes can freeze and burst in the winter. When all the water is out, close the outdoor faucet and turn on the water for the rest of the house.

Step 3: Use an Insulating Faucet Cover 

Now that the water is cleared out of the outdoor pipes you can begin installing your winterized protection! The easiest option is to install an insulating faucet cover. This will keep the outdoor faucet from freezing during the winter. So frozen water will not creep into your pipes!

These covers are very affordable and can be purchased online or at any hardware store. Instructions on how to install the insulting cover vary, but they usually just wrap around the faucet. Follow those instructions to place the cover properly. 

Step 4: Install a Frost-Free Faucet

If you would like to go the extra mile, you can also install a frost-free faucet! These devices simply replace your old faucet head but are designed to prevent to faucet from freezing or developing frost. That way the pipes in your home are unable to freeze.

Installation on these faucets varies, but you will want to install this after you have drained the pipe system. They may use a wrench for installation, but that information will be labeled in the frost-free faucet you purchase. These can also be paired with faucet covers for extra protection.

How Does an Outdoor Faucet Cover Work? 

Faucet covers work by trapping the heat that naturally flows out of the interior pipes through the outdoor spigot. The insulation does not allow this natural heat to leave, which keeps the faucet above freezing temperatures so the water inside can not freeze. Outdoor faucet covers will only cost about $35 for a single unit, but you could easily find cheaper ones if needed!

Types of Faucet Covers 

There are two main types of outdoor faucet covers, these are generally called rigid covers and flexible covers. Rigid covers are usually made of thermal foam and can be shaped like a dome shell. They have flexible gaskets to it easily fit over your outdoor faucet. These are reusable each season and the cheapest option, costing about $10 each.

The other type is the flexible cover, which tends to be a flexible bag made of thick fabric. This cover is stuffed with insulation and is easily adaptable to any faucet. These bags are usually placed over the faucet and tied with a string to keep it secure. Flexible covers are still cost-effective, only costing about $16 on Amazon.

Why Should You Winterize An Outdoor Faucet? 

Draining and insulating an outdoor faucet may seem like a silly measure to take for protecting your home for the winter. However, it can save you hundreds of dollars in repairs. The main purpose of doing this is to keep water from settling in your pipe, then expanding as it freezes. 

As the water expands, it places a lot of pressure on your pipes and causes them to swell. This bulging of the pipes, if not attended to, will eventually lead to them bursting from the pressure. Burst pipes are expensive to replace, and can even flood your home and cause water damage. Which is why winterizing is so important!

At What Temperature Will An Outdoor Faucet Freeze? 

Pipes usually have a temperature warning threshold of 20°F, when the temperature drops below this they will begin to freeze. If your pipes are insulated they will not freeze as quickly, but will still last about 6 hours till an ice blockage forms. If your pipes are not insulated, this can happen in less than 3 hours. 

Benefits of Using A Frost-Free Faucet 

Frost-free faucets usually do not need a cover or to drain the pipes every winter, as the faucet does this on its own! Water is stopped behind the valve when you turn off the water. This valve is inside your home, so the water is not at risk of freezing. Water beyond this point also automatically drains, meaning this type of faucet does all the winterizing for you!

1. Keeps the Water Flowing 

Frost-free faucets are great for those in changing climates. As you do not have to worry about draining the pipe if you use it on a warm spring day before it snows the next morning. This is because it allows the water in the pip to keep flowing inside the house, so there is no risk of frozen water in your pipes.

2. Prevents the Backflow of Water 

Frost-free faucets use an anti-siphon valve. This function prevents the backflow of water into the pipes. Which helps in draining the water lines and keeping water from freezing inside the pipes.  

How Much Does It Cost To Winterize An Outdoor Faucet? 

It is both easy and affordable to winterize your outdoor faucet. The overall price will largely depend on the type of cover and/or frost-free faucet you get. But generally, you will not go over $50 for both the new faucet and the insulated cover! With all the benefits of winterizing, these prices are nothing compared to burst pipes.

What Should I Do If My Outdoor Faucet Freezes? 

If your pipes freeze, the first thing to do is open the faucets. This will encourage warm water to flow and break up the ice blockage. Then you will need to thaw your pipes with hair dryers or heating lamps. You must thaw out the pipes quickly, or they could burst!

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