How To Install A Frost Free Outside Faucet

A modern frost-proof faucet has several important features including, the obvious, that it is cold-weather protected. While more expensive than a standard outdoor faucet, a frost-proof spigot will likely last much longer than standard spigots, which are prone to expanding and cracking in colder climates.

Tip 1: Save money on plumbing jobs by consolidating smaller jobs, thus reducing the service/travel charge. Tip 2: Frost-proof pipes should be installed at a slight angle for proper drainage. Your plumber should know this. Tip 3: Sill cock, outdoor faucet, hose bib, and hose spigot all generally refer to. Using a backhoe or trencher, create a trench that is safely below the frost line from the supply to the intended location of your hydrant. Dig out a pit at the hydrant end that is roughly 3 feet in diameter and about a foot deeper than the level of the trench. Fill that bottom foot with pea rock or crushed stone to act as a small French drain.

Frost-proof faucets provide the following benefits:

  • Reduce risk of pipe bursting from frozen water.
  • Extend inside home far enough to escape frostline.
  • Prevent backflow of contaminated water into your home water system.
  • Eliminate the need to bleed off water in the line each season.

How Frost-Proof Spigots Work

Frost-proof spigots have a deep-seated, water-shutoff valve not found on old-style, standard faucets. Old-style faucets had valves that tended to freeze as they were located outside of the home. Frost-proof systems house the valve further up the pipe (ideally, inside the house wall—away from the frost). The vacuum, or anti-siphon assembly is what prevents water from your hose backing up into the line and your home water supply. So, while these are marketed as frost-proof pipes (accomplished by this additional feature), many homeowners aren’t aware of the bonus benefit (clean water), provided you buy the type with the anti-siphon assembly.

Frost-proof spigots come in a range of lengths to extend into your home. Ideally, even if you have a frost-proof spigot, you still want to install a dedicated shutoff valve inside your home. While the spigot will do its work without a shutoff, the shut-off provides one more barrier during winter, but, more importantly, makes it easier to change out the spigot should it become defective in the future. Without the shut-off valve, you’d have to turn off the entire water supply, which might send debris into your system when you turn it back on. Ideally, you always want a shut-off valve near every water supply in your home.

Even with a frost-proof spigot, you still need to take the usual safety precautions against freezing. The most important thing to remember is to disconnect your hose when the weather turns cold and allow existing water to drain from the pipe. Leaving hoses connected is the single most common cause of outdoor faucet failure.

Most new residential homes are built with these installed and some housing codes require them, but if you are building a new home, you should bring it up with the contractor. Another feature you might want, depending on your locale, is having locks installed on the spigots. If you are replacing a spigot, however, it’s definitely worth the money to install a frost-proof spigot with a vacuum assembly.

A properly-installed and maintained faucet should enjoy a long life. The biggest causes for premature failure of spigots are leaving the hose attached during winter and improper slope of the pipe in installation, which causes water backflow into the system.

How Much Do Frost-Proof Spigots Cost?

They vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Also, the longer the pipe, the higher the cost. A range would be $25-$60. You want to buy the ones with the vacuum breakers. How long you need will be determined by wall thickness. You can install these with a DIY connector kit, such as a SharkBite kit, but you might want a more permanent solution, which requires pipe brazing. Know that getting it the right length through a wall can be a bit tricky. A professional can give you installation quotes and most stock the frost-free faucets. Expect to pay between $120 and $160 per installed faucet.

The takeaway: Frost-proof outdoor faucets with vacuum breakers provide two benefits to homeowners: prevention against freezing and backflow contamination from hose backups. While more expensive than standard spigots, they’ll outperform and outlast standard sill cocks, saving you money in the long run.

Lastly, if you live on a slab or have a cold entry point, you definitely need the vacuum breaker, but you may also want to consult a professional for advice on preventing your pipes from freezing. Also, read our related article on winterizing your home.

  • Tip 1: Save money on plumbing jobs by consolidating smaller jobs, thus reducing the service/travel charge.
  • Tip 2: Frost-proof pipes should be installed at a slight angle for proper drainage. Your plumber should know this.
  • Tip 3: Sill cock, outdoor faucet, hose bib, and hose spigot all generally refer to the same thing.

Avoid major headaches (and repair bills) with one very affordable exterior update.

Photo: istockphoto.com

From time to time, homeowners forget to shut off the water supply to an outdoor faucet when they’re winter-proofing the home. Unfortunately, this simple oversight can have disastrous consequences.

Frigid temperatures can cause whatever water remains in the line to freeze and expand, often rupturing the faucet connections and sending water coursing down the inside of the wall. Repairing the damage to flooded walls, furniture, and other possessions can run in the thousands of dollars.

To protect yourself (and your home) from costly water damage this winter, plumbing professionals recommend switching out regular exterior faucets, also known as sillcocks or hose bibbs, for frost-free models. Daniel O’Brian, technical expert for online plumbing retailer SupplyHouse.com, shares the scoop on the solution that starts at $12.

Photo: istockphoto.com

What’s Wrong with Standard Faucets?

A standard exterior faucet features a washer just under the valve, which serves as the shut-off point for the water. When you turn the faucet off, pressurized water remains in the lower part of the faucet and the connecting pipe, where it can easily freeze, causing the fitting to break.

Why Is a Frost-Free Faucet Better?

A frost-free faucet is a hose bibb with a longer rear connection, “essentially a pipe that’s preconfigured to the valve body,” O’Brian explains. The longer rear connection means the internal shutoff valve is located within the walls of the house, where it’s warmer and unlikely to freeze, whereas the internal shutoff valve in a standard faucet is located outside the walls of the house and susceptible to frost. With a frost-free faucet, when you turn the water off the remaining water in the pipe (up to the shutoff valve) drains out so no water is left in the pipe to freeze.

How To Install A Frost Free Outside Faucet

SupplyHouse carries frost-free faucets with pipe connections as short as four inches, such as Bluefin’s 4-inch Frost-Free Anti-Siphon Sillcock, to as long as 24 inches, like this Woodford 24-inch Anti-Siphon Wall Faucet. The length you’ll need will depend on your home’s water pipe configuration and the type of sillcock you’re replacing.

  • If you’re replacing an existing frost-free faucet, you’ll want to order the same size.
  • If you’re replacing a standard outdoor faucet with a frost-free faucet, order one with the same pipe diameter (½ inch or ¾ inch). The required length of the sillcock extension, however, will depend on the configuration of the pipes inside your basement. For example, if the water supply pipe connected to your old faucet extends 10 inches horizontally inside the wall and then turns downward, you’ll want to order a sillcock with a rear extension less than 10 inches long so it will attach to the water pipe before it reaches the bend.

“There’s peace of mind that comes with reducing the likelihood of a pipe burst at outdoor faucets,” O’Brian says. With a frost-free faucet, he adds, “There’s no need to check outdoor faucets during freezing times of year in cold climates”—something you would have to do with ordinary outdoor faucets to make sure you don’t miss a burst. An undetected burst—an all-too-common scenario when water in a standard faucet freezes and cracks the connections—can result in a small leak or a gush of water. Either one can inflict costly damage before the leak is discovered. Installing a frost-free faucet is a simple way to reduce the risk.

Bonus: An Anti-Siphon Assurance

Most of today’s frost-free faucets also come with an anti-siphon feature to prevent outdoor water from being pulled back into the system in the event of a pressure drop, which can be caused by something as commonplace as an appliance that’s using an excessive amount of water. This feature allows a frost-free faucet, such as Bluefin’s 8-inch Frost-Free Anti-Siphon Sillcock, to operate like a one-way valve that keeps water from flowing backward.

While the anti-siphon feature is not directly related to preventing the sillcock from freezing and breaking, it is a beneficial year-round preventive measure against contamination of a home’s water supply. For instance, if you’ve attached a sprayer containing fertilizers or chemicals to the garden hose, a sudden drop in your home’s water pressure could potentially cause water from the hose to be drawn back into your house. An anti-siphon device prevents this from happening, which is why these devices are now a code requirement on exterior faucets in most communities.

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Who Needs One?

All homeowners should check if frost-free faucets are required by code in their community. But whatever code stipulates, those living in regions where winter temperatures drop below freezing, even rarely, should definitely invest in frost-free faucets. Not only will you avoid some potentially hefty repair bills, but, depending on your home insurance policy, you may also get a break on your premiums when you replace standard outdoor faucets with frost-free models.

Photo: supplyhouse.com

Installation Advice

Installing a frost-free faucet can be a DIY job, but homeowners who are inexperienced in basic plumbing practices are better off leaving the job to a professional plumber, O’Brian advises. “Pipes generally need to be cut, and the necessary area of the pipe must be depressurized by turning off the water supply and closing any applicable valves,” he explains. In more complex scenarios—for instance, if you’re working with copper water supply pipes—you’ll need to not only cut the pipe but also “sweat” the connection. This technique involves applying flux (a product that promotes bonding of the connection) and then soldering the connection with a torch—and unless you’ve mastered the technique, the connection can leak.

The difficulty of installation boils down to the connection. Frost-free faucets come with a variety of connection possibilities, including push-fit, threaded, and sweat connections, to accommodate whatever types of pipes are found in the house. For example, the Bluefin 12-inch Sweat Frost-Free Anti-Siphon Sillcock features a threaded male end that will connect with a threaded female end, but it can also be attached via a sweat connection. The inside of the threaded end is smooth, which allows insertion of a copper pipe that can then be sweated with a torch.

Keep the following tips in mind when installing a frost-free faucet:

  • It’s usually better to use a non-sweat connection, which won’t require any pipe cutting when you repair or replace the sillcock in the future. A sweat connection, however, when done properly, forms a permanent seal that is less likely to leak than push-type or threaded connections.
  • Secure the frost-free faucet to the exterior of your house using a mounting plate, such as this Hose Bibb Mounting Plate. The SupplyHouse team recommends a mounting plate because it accomplishes a few important things:
    1. It secures the sillcock and keeps the pipe from wobbling, which can happen if the screws that hold the sillcock work loose.
    2. It creates an attractive connection on the wall, leaving no visible hole.
    3. It helps seal the penetration in the wall to prevent drafts, moisture, and unwanted insects from entering the home.
  • Remove the interior stem unit from the sillcock if you’re going to sweat the connection. Soldering a joint requires extremely hot temperatures, and because the shutoff in a frost-free faucet is located near the connection, the heat created during the sweating process could inadvertently damage the rubber O-rings. There’s a screw you can loosen on the outside of the sillcock that allows you to pull the stem out. After sweating the connection, replace the stem and reinstall the screw.

How To Install A Frost Free Outside Faucet Parts

Frost-Free Faucet Care

Installing a new frost-free faucet will protect your property and allow you to breathe a sigh of relief this winter. Once installed, the faucet doesn’t require a lot of care, but you can keep it working great by following these tips.

How To Install A Frost Free Outside Faucet

  • Tighten the valve just until the water flow shuts off. An over-tightened valve puts excessive pressure on the gaskets inside the sillcock, which can lead to premature deterioration and leaking.
  • Disconnect your garden hose. The point of installing a frost-free faucet is to keep water out of the exterior portion of the faucet. A connected hose that’s full of water keeps the pipe and the faucet itself full of water, which increases the risk of freezing and bursting.

This article has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

How To Install A Frost Free Outside Faucet
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