Home > Uncategorized > Time To Drain Your Water Spigots

Time To Drain Your Water Spigots

This was originally posted in Oct of 2012, but it serves as a helpful reminder for many of us.
With the cold weather upon us, it is time to perform the very important maintenance ritual of winterizing your exterior water spigots.  Forgetting to perform this chore can result in frozen pipes.  When pipes freeze, they expand and this can cause breaks / leaks & flooding.  Every year I hear about basements flooding because of this.  Don’t be that guy.

Types of Spigots
There are two primary types of spigots: The first I simply refer to as a “standard”, or “regular” spigot, and the other is referred to as a “frost-free spigot”.
Frost-free spigots are designed to eliminate the risk of freezing pipes.

A frost-free spigot has a stem portion that extends into the house, where an interior, built-in valve is located.  So once the exterior valve is turned off, the water flow is actually shut off inside the heated wall line.

If the faucet is properly installed (sloping to the house exterior), the stem portion is drained when the faucet is turned off, eliminating any water from the areas of the pipe that can freeze.  Note: You still must remember to disconnect any garden hoses before the winter.

Some frost-free spigots also have built-in anti-siphon valves (circled in red – below).

Anti-siphon valves are like one-way gates for water.  The purpose is to keep unsafe / dirty water from reversing flow and entering the drinking water supply.

In most cases, frost free spigots do not have interior shut off valves, but if they are present, they should be turned off for the winter season.

Standard (older styled) spigots must have interior shut off valves and if they don’t, you need to have them installed.

How to Winterize a Standard Spigot

Opinions vary on the best way to drain outdoor spigots.  Here is the approach I use at my own home:

Before the first freeze, turn the water flow on to all exterior spigots.

2) Next: shut off all interior valves (usually 2) that supply water to the exterior spigots.

3) Next: open the air petcocks (small caps located on the interior shut-off valves). This will allow air to enter the pipe and will help drain the remaining water out.  After the water has drained out, replace the petcock caps.

I believe it is best to leave the outdoor valves open during the winter. The reason is that it is more likely for a valve to freeze up in the closed position than in the open position (valve handles that freeze in the closed position often develop leaks, due to damaged washers).

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 2, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Reblogged this on SuburbanHomeInspections and commented:

    Annual reminder to drain your outdoor spigots

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