In order to prevent burst pipes, it’s essential to properly winterize your exterior faucets and hose bibbs (a hose bibb is a spigot you attach your garden hose to). This applies to anyone who lives in a region where winter temperatures dip below freezing. To winterize your hose properly, turn off the water supply to the exterior faucet, disconnect the hose, and flush any remaining water from the system. Alternatively, you can install frost-proof outdoor faucets so you don’t need to winterize your hose bibbs each year.
Table of Contents
What Happens if You Don’t Winterize Your Outdoor Faucets?
If you neglect to turn off the water to your outdoor faucets before cold weather arrives, the water in those pipes may freeze solid. This can lead to burst pipes, which can then leak inside your home and cause large-scale water damage. You can save yourself hundreds of dollars in plumbing bills by properly winterizing your hose bibbs.
- Burst pipes
- Frozen pipes
- Increased energy costs
Even if frozen pipes don’t burst, they can still cause blockages, cutting off water flow to your home. This can lead to increased energy costs if you are using a well pump to send water through the pipes in your home. The pump will have to work much harder to send water through ice-clogged pipes.
Will Outdoor Pipes Burst if the Water Supply is Turned Off?
A properly closed and winterized hose bibb will resist freezing and bursting. By clearing the pipe of water after you shut off the outdoor water supply, there’s nothing within the pipe that can freeze and expand. Once you winterize your exterior spigots, you’ll have no need to fear frozen pipes.
When Should You Winterize Your Hose Bibbs?
Winterize your exterior faucets 2 weeks prior to the first average freezing temperatures. In most regions of the US and Canada that experience a winter freeze, it’s best to shut off water to outdoor faucets in late October or early November. As little as 6 hours of freezing cold can be enough to freeze pipes solid and cause a rupture, so don’t wait until after the first freeze.
- Winterize your hose bibbs 2 weeks before the first average fall freeze.
- In regions with freezing winter temperatures, plan to winterize in October or November.
- You must winterize your hose faucets even if your pipes are insulated.
Even if your pipes are wrapped and insulated, it is still essential to winterize your exterior faucets. Unlike interior plumbing, your hose bibbs won’t benefit from your home’s internal heat. All external plumbing fixtures are at risk of freezing in winter temperatures.
How Do You Turn Off Water to Your Hose in Winter? [5 Easy Steps]
Turning off the water supply to your hose bibb and preparing it for winter is a simple task. There’s no need to call in a licensed plumber because this is a job you can take on yourself. Usually, it can be accomplished in just a few minutes. Here’s how to do it:
Turn Off the Water Supply Valve
Locate the water supply valve that runs to any outside faucets. The water supply valve should be located inside your home. Typically, these valves are located in a basement, utility closet, or crawlspace. In some cases, they are located near your water meter. To turn off the water supply valve, turn it to the right (clockwise) until it is firmly closed.
- Locate the water supply valve for your hose bibb.
- The water supply valve may be located in a basement, utility closet, or crawlspace.
- Each hose bibb may have its own water supply valve.
In some cases, there is one master supply valve that controls the flow of water to all exterior faucets. In other cases, there is an individual water supply valve for each hose bibb. Check for a supply valve for each exterior faucet and ensure all are completely closed.
Disconnect Your Hose
Go outside and disconnect your outdoor hoses from all of your hose bibbs. Hoses can retain water, making them prone to cracking and degrading if the water freezes inside. To make sure your hose is completely free of water, coil it and hang it up after disconnecting it.
- Disconnect the hoses from all your exterior spigots.
- Coil your hoses and store them indoors for winter.
Store your disconnected hoses in a garage, basement, or another protected place during the winter months. Keeping them out of snow and ice will increase the lifespan of your garden hoses.
Disconnect Splitters and Other Bibb Fixtures
If your hose bibb is equipped with a splitter that allows for two hoses to be connected to the same bibb, this should be removed. Splitters and other additional fixtures can trap water in the pipes. This can cause ice blockages and burst pipes.
- Remove any outdoor faucet fixtures, such as splitters, from your hose bibb.
- Store spigot fixtures until spring.
Store your splitters and other outdoor faucet fixtures for the winter. When spring arrives, you can safely reattach them, along with your hoses.
Open the Faucet to Drain Remaining Water
Once your hoses and fixtures have been removed, open the valve on the bibb. This will allow any water trapped in the water pipes to come out. The flow of water should stop shortly. With the water supply valve already closed, you are simply flushing the remaining water from the pipes.
- Turn the hose bibb valve to the left (counterclockwise) to open it and drain any remaining water.
- This prevents any water in the water pipes from freezing and causing damage to your plumbing.
- Leave this valve open all winter.
Leave the bibb valve open throughout the winter. This prevents any stubborn water from being trapped in the pipe. You can close the valve in the spring before you turn the supply of water back on.
Drain the Bleeder Valve
Now that you’ve drained most of the water from the lines, return to the water supply valve you closed earlier. Look for a bleeder valve on the line beneath the supply valve handle. Bleeder valves are typically covered with a small metal cap. Unscrew this bleeder cap to drain any remaining water from the line.
- Go back to the water supply valve that controls the flow of water to the hose bibb.
- Search for a small metal bleeder valve below the handle of the water supply valve.
- Unscrew the metal bleeder cap and drain and excess water from the line.
- Use a bucket to catch any excess water that comes from the bleeder valve.
When working indoors, it’s best to position a bucket below the bleeder valve prior to unscrewing the bleeder cap. Although typically only a small amount of water will come out of this valve, it’s better to capture it than it is to let it soak your floor. Once you’re done with this step, your water line is free of water and ready for winter.
Install Frost Proof Hose Bibbs So You Don’t Need to Winterize
If you don’t want to go through the task of winterizing your hose bibbs each year, consider installing frost-proof hose bibbs. These specialized bibbs are designed to resist freezing. If you have them installed, you don’t have to shut off the water supply to your outdoor faucet or bleed the line.
- You do not need to winterize your hose bibbs if you install this frost-proof spigot.
- Frost-free hose bibbs eliminate the need to shut off the water supply and bleed the line for winter.
- A plumber can install frost-proof hose bibbs for you.
If you are unfamiliar with installing spigots, a professional plumber can install frost-proof hose bibbs for you. Doing so will eliminate your yearly winterizing chore.
Do You Have to Shut Off Outside Water in Winter?
It’s essential to shut off water to exterior faucets and hose bibbs before freezing temperatures set in. A failure to do so may result in ice blockages and burst pipes. In order to winterize your hose bibbs:
- Turn off the water supply to the hose from inside the house.
- Disconnect and store any garden hoses.
- Remove and store splitters and other hose bibb attachments.
- Open the hose bibb valve to drain trapped water from the line.
- Return to the water supply valve and drain remaining water from the bleeder valve.
By following these steps you will completely winterize your exterior faucets against freezing conditions. You’ll be able to get through the winter without risking any plumbing damage or burst pipes.