How to Winterize and Outdoor Spigot
Winterizing your outdoor spigot is important in places that experience freezing temperatures. A frozen hose bib can lead to costly repairs and water damage to other parts of the property. Winterizing an outdoor spigot is easy, and the small amount of time and effort it takes is more than worth the investment.
Step 1 - Remove all Accessories
The first step to properly winterizing your outdoor spigot is to remove all accessories. Hoses, faucet splitters, faucet manifolds and drip irrigation head assemblies should all be removed so you have an isolated hose bib. These should be stored according to manufacturer recommendations or somewhere temperatures remain above freezing, such as the garage or a utility shed.
Any parts that are removed should be drained of water. Walk your hoses from one end to the next, lifting each section as you go. This will remove water inside the hose to get it prepared for storage. Let drip irrigation head assembly components and faucet splitters drain out prior to storage.
Drain hoses, drip irrigation assemblies and faucet splitters.
Store according to manufacturer recommendations or in a location above freezing.
Step 2 - Turn off Shut-Off Valve to the Spigot
Not all outdoor spigots have an upstream shut-off, so if you cannot locate one this portion may not apply to you. If you do have an upstream shut-off, turn it to the off position. Common locations of this shut-off are in basements, crawl spaces and utility closets. The shut-off valves are most common in places that reach freezing temperatures; warmer locations often will not have an upstream shut-off valve.
If you have an upstream shut-off valve, turn it to the “Off” position for the duration of winter.
Common locations for this shut-off valve are:
Step 3 - Open the Outdoor Spigot
If you have an upstream shut-off valve, you will open the spigot to its fully open position after turning it to the off position. This will allow most of the water inside to drain out. Leave it open over the course of winter to ensure no pressure or water builds up behind it.
If only a small amount of water comes out, it could be due to a vacuum effect. This is similar to when you place your finger over the opening of a straw, remove it from the liquid and the liquid stays inside. If this occurs, don’t worry, the next step will take care of the remaining water.
After the upstream shut-off valve is closed, open the spigot to its fully open position.
Leave the spigot open for the duration of freezing temperature risk.
If only a small amount of water comes out, this could be due to a vacuum effect and will be rectified in the next step.
Step 4 - Open Bleed Valve
If your spigot has an upstream shut-off valve, that shut-off valve may be equipped with a bleed valve. Opening this bleed valve will also break the vacuum inside and allow any remaining water to drain out. It’s best to bring a bucket or container for this part, as water is likely to drain from the bleed valve as well.
When performing this step, it’s also recommended to place a bucket or container in front of the spigot to capture draining water. If freezing conditions are present, water that drains from the spigot could freeze and create a hazard.
If your shut-off valve does not have a bleed valve, the recommended method is to:
Open the spigot so that water is coming out (preferably into a bucket or container).
Slowly shut-off the shut-off valve. Going slow should help all water drain and prevent vacuum effects from trapping water in the line.
If you have an upstream shut-off valve, it may have a bleed valve.
Open the bleed valve to break any vacuums and release remaining water.
Water is likely to drain from both the bleed valve and spigot.
A bucket or container should be placed beneath the spigot and the bleed valve, as water is likely to drain from both.
Step 5 - Insulate Outdoor Spigot
The last step to winterizing your outdoor spigot is to insulate it. This not only protects the spigot itself from freezing, but helps prevent portions upstream of it from freezing. The insulator can be anything from an old sock, to a styrofoam cover to a tap jacket like in the image above.
While it won’t keep the spigot warm, it does help prevent it from getting cold enough to freeze at the spigot and a little upstream of it. Note, if you have a frost-free hydrant, it is still advised to insulate it if temperatures drop below freezing during the winter.
Last step is to insulate the spigot.
Insulator can be an old sock, styrofoam cover, tap jacket or almost anything that will provide insulation.
It is recommended to insulate even if you have a frost-free or frost-proof hydrant.
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