Prevent Frozen Pipes

One thing homeowners should do to prevent frozen pipes is winterize hose faucets outdoors. While it's fairly easy to do, it's just a little bit technical.

Since you only need to do it once a year, it can be hard to remember how to do it right. And the consequence of doing it wrong can be a lot of damage, so lets prevent frozen pipes.

I propose to give you the instructions for the task along with a few photos of the valves involved. Print the instructions, put them in an envelope and post it near the service valve for the hose faucet.

There are a few different styles of hose faucets, and a lot of different places their service valves can be. I want to give simple instructions for the regular set-up. But before that, let's go over the uncommon ones so you don’t go crazy looking for something that doesn’t exist in your house.

Dude... where's my service valve?

Any standard style hose valve should have a service valve. That doesn't mean that yours does. Where yours is depends on the year the house was built since the way things are done changes over the years.

If your house wasn't built by a regular contractor, there's no telling where you'll find the service valve. Places to look are:

  • in the crawl space
  • in the basement
  • in a kitchen or bathroom cabinet
  • near the water heater
  • next to your home's main water shut-off

Frost Free Valve

If you have a frost free hose faucet, the plumbing code allows them to be installed without a service valve. This is because all you have to do to “winterize” a frost free valve is remove the hose from it and let it drain.

Some of the early anti-siphon models have a little plastic post at the hose thread spout that is “wiggled” to upset the anti-siphon seal. If you have that kind, it's more work to get it drained.

You might consider replacing it with a later model. In any case you want to see that the water does drain out of the valve regardless which style frost free faucet you are working with.

Do the rest of them around the house and leave the hoses off for the season. Once they are drained go inside and light the log lighter... you're done.

Follow these 7 steps to prevent frozen pipes

  1. Find the service valve for that particular outdoor faucet.
  2. Close the service valve.
  3. Remove the hose and open the hose valve (turn the faucet to the “on” position”) that is served by the service valve you closed.
  4. Place container under the hose valve or have someone watch to see if water drains from the hose valve.
  5. Hold the container in place while you open the waste cap on the service valve.
  6. Watch for water to drain out of the waste cap, or for air to be drawn into the waste cap, or both in stages.
  7. Leave the waste cap loose, the hose valve open, and the hose off the hose valve.

If water has drained from one or both sides of the system down stream of the service valve’s washer or gate, you're done. If no water has drained from the system it is still in danger of freezing. The idea is to have empty pipe, so that you will prevent frozen pipe damage. Here's one last thing to do-

Inspect the waste cap to see if the gasket in it has stuck to the inside of the cap or the end of the thread under the cap. If the gasket is still holding onto the waste “nipple,” peel it off and check again to see if the system is draining.

Water must drain completely from the entire system to prevent frozen pipes. The point of the task is not to just turn off the valve, but to establish a drained pipe.

It won't matter how cold the temperature gets if there's no water in the pipe to expand and do damage. Remember- the longer the run of pipe between the service valve and the hose valve the more water should drain out.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to prevent frozen pipes, sparing you the time and expense of thawing and fixing frozen pipes. Again, preventive maintenance is time well spent in the long run!

Do It Yourself Plumbing Repair from Prevent Frozen Pipes

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