Frozen outdoor pipes are the last thing you want to find after a cold winter night.  If water is allowed to remain in your home’s pipes, it will expand while freezing to the point that it is large enough to break right on through the pipe.  You will save a lot of time, money and frustration by winterizing these outdoor faucets to prevent water damage.  Here’s how to do it.



Start by Disconnecting the Hoses in Autumn

Do not forget to disconnect the hoses before winter starts.  Connected hoses retain water even when the faucet is off.  Water freezes within the hose as temperatures drop, causing the pipe to burst.  It is quite possible the pipe will break in the winter yet you might not know about it until spring when you attempt to use your outdoor faucet.  The location of the break determines whether water will spray along your home’s exterior or interior.


Draining the hose line will go a long way in preventing the pipes from freezing when the temperatures dip low in the winter.  Pinpoint the water flow valve that controls the flow of water to outdoor faucets.  In most homes, this valve is positioned in the basement.  Turn the valve to the off position.  Open all of the outdoor faucets to ensure the water can drain.  Ideally, there won’t be any water in the line so there is no potential for it to freeze.




Apply a Faucet Cover

Disconnecting your outdoor hose is not the sole means of preventing the faucet from freezing and water from bursting in the pipe.  Be sure to apply an outdoor faucet cover.  The average hardware store has affordable Styrofoam faucet covers that will isolate and safeguard the faucet from winter’s wrath.  Follow the instructions as detailed by the manufacturer when adding the faucet cover to your outdoor faucet.  Make sure the faucet cover is tightly secured.



Add a Frost-Free Faucet

Those who have already had problems with their outdoor faucet are undoubtedly in search of a permanent solution.  It might be possible to replace the current outdoor faucet with a frost-free faucet.  The frost-free version is engineered to function in the freezing cold.  Just be sure to disconnect the hose once winter rolls around.  Homeowners should also know it is possible for frost-free spigots to break when the hose is connected as water remains trapped within the pipe and faucet head.




How to Determine if Your Outdoor Faucet is Frost-free

In general, faucets with knobs that are perpendicular to the home are frost-free.  The purpose of the knob is to turn a lengthy stem that closes the valve in the home where temperatures are more tolerable.  For the most part, knobs that are positioned at a 45 degree angle are not frost-free and will require winterization.



Consider Adding Insulation

The addition of insulation is another helpful preventive measure as it protects outdoor faucets against the harsh winter conditions.  Ideally, homeowners will add insulation to every outdoor faucet before the start of each winter.  Consider adding a cloth faucet sack/sock to hook over your outdoor faucet for protection throughout the entirety of winter.  Faucet socks trap the heat that radiates through the water pipe from indoors yet they do not significantly increase the faucet temperature as no heat is generated. However, even the relatively modest additional protection against freezing can prove quite helpful.