Don’t forget to winterize your outside spigots!

It’s hard to believe that fall is wrapping up and winter is right around the corner! And with the change of seasons, a lot of our friends and neighbors here in South Jersey are checking items off their fall to-do list: raking leaves, taking in deck furniture, removing screens, installing glass storm doors, and the list goes on. 

As you work through these important items, we wanted to offer a friendly reminder that now is the right time to disconnect garden hoses from your outside spigots as well. Ideally this should be done before the first freeze, but if you missed that window (and you aren’t alone!), consider this a nudge to just do it ASAP. You wouldn’t believe how many outside spigots we replace in the spring, many with hoses still attached! And as much as we’d love to see you, we’d rather help you avoid an unnecessary expense. 

Why should you disconnect your garden hose before winter?

In short, water freezes in the hose and breaks the tiny parts in the vacuum breaker assembly. Or, worse yet, freezes and cracks the antifreeze mechanism in the spigot itself. In layman’s terms? Leaving your spigot connected opens the door to the risk of breaking your spigot, and possibly causing water damage within your home. 

How does an antifreeze spigot, or frost-proof faucet, work?

Your run-of-the-mill outdoor spigot is a pretty short mechanism: 4 inches at most from the spout to where it connects to your water line. This means that you’re extremely vulnerable to water freezing in that little “barrel.” It’s right on the outside of your house too, fully exposed to frigid temps. The trapped water freezes, expands, bursts, and when the next thaw comes you have a major problem on your hands. 

Antifreeze faucets have a much longer barrel, meaning that the water connection can be snug and warm inside your home. It’s still important to disconnect the hose and drain the barrel, but you’re much better protected than you are with a standard setup. 

How do you shut off your outside hose spigots for winter?

Modern codes require that every outdoor spigot have an accessible shutoff valve in close proximity to the assembly, generally right in your basement or crawl space. If your home is on a slab, check your mechanical room near the hot water heater, or under the sink. To shut off that water supply every winter, just turn the valve clockwise until it stops (don’t force it – just tighten it snugly). 

Your takeaway:

Spending just a few minutes disconnecting, draining, then shutting off the water supply to your spigots can save you from a nasty springtime surprise. As with most of your home’s systems, an ounce of prevention goes a long, long way. If you have more questions, please feel free to contact us at Accurate Plumbing and Drain Cleaning. We’re here to help!

Top spigot FAQ:

Q. Should I upgrade to antifreeze spigots?

If you live in a climate where the temps dip drastically in the fall and winter (like here in South Jersey), an antifreeze spigot offers extra peace of mind. This is especially true for folks who may not exactly be the handiest, and don’t want to think about winterizing and home maintenance. 

Q. Are antifreeze spigots and frost-free hose bibs the same thing?

Yes! The setup goes by numerous names: frost-free hose bibs, antifreeze spigots, freeze-proof outdoor faucets… They all refer to the same general concept: an outdoor spigot that is designed to reduce the risk of incurring damage during cold weather. 

Q. How does a freeze-proof hose spigot work?

It primarily comes down to the length of the barrel. Standard hose spigots have a short barrel, meaning that the water connection point is closely exposed to the exterior temperature. Freeze-proof hose spigots have a longer barrel (often 4-5 times the length), pushing that water connection back inside your warm basement or utility room. This drastically reduces the risk of the water freezing, expanding, bursting the pipe, and causing damage. 

Q. Do you need to drain a freeze-proof hose spigot?

While your risk of freezing internally is much lower, we do still recommend that you disconnect your hose and drain the water out of that barrel. No chance of damage is better than a small chance, right?

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