Winter can be brutal on everything from your car to your health, and especially your home. While you stay warm and cozy inside, and temperatures plummet outside while the wind howls, there are some spaces where your home is more vulnerable to the penetrating cold and your outside faucets top the list.
While this intrusion of cold won’t make your home unlivable, it can certainly have some undesirable and costly consequences. One of these is that they can allow the cold to seep in and cause the water in exterior faucets to freeze, however, this can be prevented. Here is a rundown on how to protect your outside faucets from freezing.
How to Protect Your Outside Faucets from Freezing?
There are multiple ways, from simply covering the faucet with an insulative cover, to wrapping the pipes in heating cables or wraps. The best ways to protect your outside faucets from freezing include:
- Using A Winter-Proof Faucet
- Install a Freeze Miser
- Use a Winter Faucet Cover Insulator
- Turn Off the Water
- Use a Heating Cable
Can You Use an Outdoor Faucet in the Winter?
Using outside faucets in winter is generally safe unless you are going to be experiencing very intense cold for extended periods. Either way, it’s best to take some basic precautionary measures to prevent them from freezing.
What Happens if my Outdoor Faucet Freezes Up?
Firstly, if the internals of the faucet are frozen you probably won’t be able to get it open. If you try to force it, you can break the faucet handle or internals. Since water cannot be compressed very much, and it expands almost unstoppably when frozen, if a frozen faucet continues to freeze the water in the line behind it can destroy the pipe.
How to Prepare Your Outdoor Faucet for Winter?
If winter is around the corner, you can take a few steps to be sure your outdoor faucet is prepared for the rigors of winter.
- Shut off the water at the supply valve or nearest maintenance shutoff.
- Turn on your outdoor faucet and let the water drain completely.
- If you have a hose attached, disconnect the hose, picking it up as you wind it so that it drains as well.
- Shut off the outdoor faucet when all water flow has stopped.
5 Ways to Protect Your Outside Faucets from Freezing Up
Winter-proof, otherwise known as frost-proof, faucets are faucets made for and sold in areas that get severe winters. They have a built-in pressure release that allows freezing water to expand without bursting the pipes. The downside to these is that they can be a project to install.
2. Install a Freeze Miser
A Freeze Miser is a specialty appliance that is installed on an outside faucet, that automatically releases a regulated amount of water when the temperature approaches the freezing point. It is temperature-regulated, so it will allow the release of the minimum amount of water needed to keep the pipes from freezing.
One of the most effective methods is to directly insulate your outside faucet. These faucet covers are much more robust than the cheap Styrofoam types, or the latest cobbled-together mess from a TikTok DIY video. Not only are they cotton insulated, but they are relatively waterproof to help fight against ice accumulation.
These also make a great option for those that want a way to help prevent the faucet from freezing, while still being able to use them when needed. For an outside faucet that might see regular use in the winter, an easily removable faucet cover may be perfect.
4. Turn Off the Water!
This is one of the most effective methods, however, it’s also one of the most inconvenient. Every outdoor faucet should have an internal shutoff valve that can be used to turn off the water at a point in the home that remains warmer.
They are commonly located behind an access panel in a nearby closet or similar location. Once the valve is off, the outside faucet should be opened to let any remaining water run out. Then it can be closed for the season.
While they can be expensive in areas with higher power costs, heating cables can offer an incredibly effective way of stopping all potential pipe freezing. By using a common pipe heating cable you can directly heat the pipe with a tool specifically designed for that purpose. They also commonly have operational lights to let you know they’re on, as well as a thermostat-controlled operation so they are only on when they may be needed.
If you live in an area that has a powerful winter season, you are probably looking for a reliable way of preventing your outside faucets from freezing without preventing you from using them entirely.
By considering your needs, as well as some of the suggestions here, you should be well-equipped to find a good solution.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.