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Protecting outside faucets

Misippi EggerMisippi Egger Posts: 5,095
edited 8:59PM in Off Topic
Fortunately this doesn't come up too often in the deep south, but what do you guys in the northern US and Canada do to protect your outside faucets from freezing and breaking the pipes?

Lots of "wife's tales", but you guys LIVE with this every year.

Last night, with the low being 17*, I opened all but one faucet and let them run with a steady (pencil-sized) flow. One faucet wouldn't turn on so I put one of those foam faucet covers on it. This morning I went out and none of the faucets was running. Three would turn on and flow, but the one on the north side wouldn't turn on or off. It's going to be colder the rest of this week.

Advice this am at work - copper cold water pipes won't freeze so don't worry about it - yeah, right. Probably PVC anyway. I have PEX running though the attic.

Will the foam covers actually work below 20*? That's what I've used in the past, but someone convinced me yesterday that they wouldn't work at these temps.

Thanks, guys.......


  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,742

    Here we use either a frost free valve (the long one where the guts of the valve sits inside the house) or a inside valve matching every outside one. Before winter, if you remember, you go around and shut off all the inside ones and open the outside.



    Caledon, ON


  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,333
    we use the frost free like little steven, shuts off deep into the house. my camp has the double shutoff system that steven mentioned and i also use the foam like you mentioned to keep a draft out from nipping the lines. now my shower is in an area thats seen teens this year, i have heat tape on the lines all the way to the shower head:laugh: freeze the copper pipes to much and they will split
  • Thanks, guys!

    Frost-free valves sound like a good plan, but I doubt they can be retrofitted to an existing brick-facade house.

    We had a lake house when I was a kid that had a valve to drain all the pipes in the house. I also was in a hunting camp where we drained the pipes, the hot water heater and anti-freezed the toilets at the end of every winter weekend - what a pain it was! But I guess better than broken pipes!
  • BBQMavenBBQMaven Posts: 1,041
    Just pulled the facet cover on the north wall of garage (unheated area but attached to house) and got water from it!!
    Kent Madison MS
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,333
    dont know how you could set it up, but another trick is to leave tha water running a little, i have to do this on the indoorn sinks attached to outside walls when its really cold
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,333
    heat gun is your friend if its going to stay cold out, you dont want to leave it frozen
  • I left water running last night, but there was none running this morning.

    Back in the 80's we had the coldest I can ever remember (our lake actually froze over - not walkable, though). Well, one outside faucet was opposite the kitchen sink which wouldn't work that morning as it was frozen back up into the house. I used a hair dryer on the pipes under the sink and eventually got the water flowing! Never seen that happen before or since.

    Gotta love our usually mild winters, but we won't talk about July and August - whew!
  • Good news. I might go that route for the rest of the week, after I get the 2 "stuck" faucets to flow. I don't like running water all night, especially around the house foundation.
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,333
    leave the doors on the sink open, or slip in a hundred watt drop light under the sink til warmer days, you probably wont have that problem there again
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,742

    Do you have a basement?



    Caledon, ON


  • Steven, basements are pretty unusual here. We have serious veins of highly expansive clay running underground and it reeks havoc on foundations, roads, etc.

    Most of the houses built in the last several decades are on concrete slabs. Drains included in the slabs and most now have PEX water lines in the attics. I actually had the builder remove the hot water heater in the attic and replace it with a gas tankless hot water system, which has been fantastic. Last month's gas bill was $22.00 (gas stove, furnace and fireplaces). Oh yeah, almost forgot :woohoo: - we DO have an oven - gas also. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,333
    thats why i never have money, i paid 478 last month for gas for the furnase, hot water tank, and stove, and the furnace only turned on maybe 4 or 5 times when the coal stove dropped in temp, coals been burning 24/7 in the coal stove and the propane tanks due for a refill. this is in a 1000 square foot camp :laugh: like heating a big ole castle :angry:
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,742

    I thought so. I had a couple of suggestions if you had the basement. Here we have the basements to get the foundation below the frost line.



    Caledon, ON


  • But our summer A/C bills make up the difference!

    Fortunately this house (been here almost 2 years) is well-built and well-insulated, so the utilities are reasonable (3700 sq ft, though we keep most of it closed off until the kids are visiting).
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,333
    i dont know about that, jan and feb nearly doubles :blink: might be time to change out those turn of the century windows with the working shutters, wish they were new like maybe only thirty or so years ago :laugh:
  • my house is a n uninsulated 1920's cottagey thing. the heat pouring out the walls keeps them from freezing
  • HaggisHaggis Posts: 63
    Aw gee whiz . . . you've destroyed another of those legends that my parents told me many years ago . . here I thought you New Englanders just drew your water directly from under the ice on the pond after you cut the surface away to save for the ice box.
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,333
    we only do that when the power goes out, good for flushing the toilet if its the new style with running water ;)
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 21,333
    the old style was running water too, we just ran down to the lake to get it :laugh:
  • jeezus man. you know a pantload about hose bibs.
  • Whatever works. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
  • Lowes sold out of 2000+ faucet covers and the local Ace has 270 coming today at noon- first come, first serve.
    Predicted low of 14* with no highs above freezing for about 5 days.
    So this sudden thought occurs to me at work today... :ohmy: :blush:

    We have this plumbing manifold panel in our laundry room. I call the Princess to check and all the outside "bibs" have shutoff valves on the manifold panel. Duh :sick:
    So off go the valves, open the outside faucets and sleep tight tonight. :woohoo:
  • emillucaemilluca Posts: 673
    A simple light bulb turned on near a faucet can help.
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