How to Winterize an Outdoor Faucet Without a Shut Off Valve

If your outdoor faucet does not have a shut-off valve, first disconnect any hoses or attachments from the faucet. Then, turn off the main water for your home and open the faucet to purge any remaining water in the line. Once this is done, close the faucet valve and turn the water back on. Next, you can winterize your faucet by fitting an insulative cap over the faucet. Alternatively, you can prevent frozen faucets and burst pipes by replacing your outdoor faucet with a frost-free faucet.

How to winterize outdoor faucet without shut off valve

Do All Outdoor Faucets Have Shut Off Valves?

The building code in most regions requires that outdoor faucets have a shut-off valve. However, not all regions have building code guidelines that require these shut-off valves. Additionally, a previous homeowner may have made repairs that violate building code. So, although your outdoor faucets should have shut-off valves, there are cases where yours may not have one.

  • Building code in regions with freezing winters almost always requires a shut-off valve for outdoor faucets.
  • Builders or homeowners may fail to include a shut-off valve when repairing or installing new outdoor faucets.
  • Double-check for a shut-off valve before winterizing your faucet.

It’s essential to double-check for a shut-off valve on your water line before continuing. The best way to winterize your outdoor faucets is by shutting off the water flowing to the faucet itself. So, double-check before you give up on finding your shut-off valve. 

Where is Your Outdoor Faucet Shut Off Valve?

Typically, shut-off valves are located inside the house. A basement, crawl space, or utility closet are the most common locations. Check to see if your outdoor faucet has a shut-off valve by following the path of the water pipe from the faucet, back to where it connects to the main plumbing line. The valve should be located somewhere on the length of the pipe.

  • A basement, crawlspace, or utility closet is the most likely location for a faucet shut-off valve.
  • Enter your home and inspect where the pipe feeding the faucet comes into the home or crawlspace. Follow the pipe and look for a valve prior to the point where the pipe reaches the water main.
  • Sometimes, shut-off valves are located at your water meter.

In some cases, shut-off valves are located outdoors, at the water meter. So, it is worth tracing your faucet water line back to the water meter. You might be surprised to find a shut-off valve located on the pipe, very close to the meter.

4 Ways to Winterize an Outside Hose Faucet Without a Shutoff Valve

An improperly cared for outdoor faucet can crack or burst. This can result in water leaks in your home, or it can simply destroy your outdoor faucet, rendering it unusable. To prevent damage to your home and your faucet, use these techniques:

Remove the Hose

First, remove the hose or other attachment from your outdoor faucet to prepare for winter. Garden hoses attached to an outdoor faucet can trap water in the faucet itself. This greatly increases the risk that the faucet will crack or burst in freezing temperatures.

  • Remove any hoses or other attachments screwed onto your outdoor faucet.
  • Hoses and faucet attachments can trap water and increase the risk of frozen pipes.
  • Store hoses for winter to prevent them from being destroyed by freezing weather.

Hoses themselves can be damaged by exposure to cold. If you forgot to disconnect your hose in winter, take quick action to remove and store it. This will increase the lifespan of your hose, which saves you from replacing it in the spring

Turn Off Main Water and Drain the Faucet

Once you’ve disconnected the hose from your outdoor faucet, turn off the main water supply for your home. Depending on your home, this may be done by closing a “wheel” valve on the water main, or you may need to shut off the water by opening an exterior grate and closing the main water valve there.

  • Turn off the water main to your entire home.
  • Your water main valve may be located inside the home, in a basement, crawlspace, or utility closet.
  • Some main water controls are located outdoors, under a metal panel near the street.
  • Once the flow of water has been shut off, open your outdoor faucet.
  • Allow all trapped water to flow out of the faucet.
  • Close the faucet and open the water main to resume service.

Once the water main is off, open the valve of the outdoor faucet and allow all the water to drain out. Then, close the faucet and turn the main water back on. This purges residual water from the pipe and decreases the chance of a frozen, burst water pipe.

Use an Insulating Faucet Cover

You can protect your outdoor faucet from freezing by installing an insulative cover. Outdoor faucet covers prevent cold, frost, and ice from penetrating your plumbing. They help to prevent cracked faucets and burst pipes.

  • Install this insulating outdoor faucet cover to prevent frozen faucets and burst pipes.
  • Faucet covers install quickly and easily.
  • Leave the faucet cover on until the danger of freezing temperatures has passed in spring.

Faucet covers install in seconds and do not require any assistance from a licensed plumber. Just fit the cover over the faucet and tighten it according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Faucet covers are inexpensive and can be used year after year.

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Install a Frost-Free Faucet

If you live in a region where freezing temperatures persist for weeks or months, it’s a good idea to replace your faucet with frost-free faucets. A frost-free faucet is built to withstand extreme cold even if your faucet does not have a shut-off valve. It will resist breaking due to cold weather.

  • If you have this frost-free faucet installed, you do not need to shut off water to your outdoor faucets.
  • A frost-free outdoor faucet can survive freezing temperatures without damage.
  • Contract a licensed plumber to install frost-free outdoor faucets for you.

You can install a frost-free faucet yourself if you’re familiar with shutting off the main water to your home and doing some plumbing work. However, if you don’t have experience with this work, it’s best to hire a professional plumber to install frost-free faucets for your home.

How Do You Keep Your Outside Faucet from Freezing if it Doesn’t Have a Shut-Off Valve?

The water pipe running to your exterior faucet may not have a shut-off valve. If this is the case and you can expect freezing temperatures this winter, protect your faucet with these tips:

  • Double-check your basement, crawlspace, utility closet, and water meter for a shut-off valve before continuing.
  • Disconnect any hoses and attachments from your faucet.
  • Turn off the main water in your home and open the faucet to purge water from the line. Then, close the faucet and turn your main water back on.
  • Cover your faucet with a foam insulated cover to prevent freezing.
  • Replace your outdoor faucet with a frost-free faucet to prevent damage from freezing.

Although purging and insulating an outdoor faucet is often enough to prevent frozen pipes, frost-free faucets are even better. So, if you expect several weeks of cold weather this winter, consider investing in frost-free hose bibbs for your home.

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