Most homes you come across will have some kind of faucets on the outside.
Whether they are for culinary or for irrigation.
In my experience we have come across both kinds.
We have also lived in cold areas and when you live in cold areas, you have to worry about your outside faucets expanding and exploding.
The top things you can do to winterize your faucets include shutting off the inside and outside valves, draining the lines, draining and putting your hoses away, applying short bursts of air to the pipes, and adding protection to the pipes.
Why you should winterize your faucets
When water freezes, it expands.
Water expanding could cause you all sorts of problems around your house.
This includes in both your faucets and your hoses.
Which is why you will want to winterize your faucets during the winter.
You will want to avoid your faucets, and the pipes connected to them, from expanding and breaking.
And there are a few things you can do to keep this from happening.
1) Draining and putting away your hoses
Typically you are going to connect a hose or two to your outside faucets, since they are being used for watering grass, trees or just for having easier access to water.
In one of the houses we lived in, the only source of water for the grass was an above-ground faucet and no sprinkler system.
It might seem like the easiest thing to do would be to leave the hoses on the faucets and not doing anything.
But leaving the hoses on the faucets during the winter can lead to problems for you when it begins to get really cold.
So, the first thing you need to do is disconnect the hoses from the faucet.
Once you have disconnected the hose, you need to roll it up.
Rolling up the hose does two things for you:
First, it makes it easier to store away for the winter.
A hose rolled up takes up a lot less space and is a lot easier to store.
Second, rolling up the hose expels all the water from the hose.
With all the water out of the hose, it is less likely to get ruined during the cold winter by the expanding water.
Hold one end of the hose in your hand and then slowly wrap the hose around your elbow and back through your hand until the whole hose has been wrapped up.
Each time you roll the hose around your hand, some water will come out of the end of the hose, which is what you want to accomplish.
If you don’t want to roll your hose up in your hand (which can lead to getting dirt all over your hand, arm, and clothes), then another option is to find a slope somewhere in your ward.
If you have a slope, place your hose with one end on the downward side of the slope.
Eventually the water will run out of the hose.
Then you can roll the hose up on the ground by twirling it around in a circle pattern until it is all rolled up.
After you have your hose rolled up, store it away inside for the winter, whether in your garage or somewhere inside your house.
2) Shut off the inside and outside valves
A shut-off valve does just that, it shuts off the water to that particular faucet.
Shutting off the water to a particular faucet will help expel any remaining water in the pipes and also keeps someone from accidentally turning the faucet on and causing more problems for you.
Depending on where the water is coming from, you have two options for where the valve for that water is going to be located.
For culinary water (for human consumption), that valve is probably going to be somewhere inside the house.
Start by finding the water heater in either your basement or in a “water closet” and see if you can find any valves coming off of it.
You might have to spend some time following pipes before you find the shut-off valve.
In our house, all the shut-off valves and pipes are found in the same closet, so it is easier to find where the particular shut-off valve is.
Turning off the valve for irrigation water is a different story.
Depending on the city you live in, they may turn the irrigation water off before you even think about turning it off on your side.
If that is the case, then you have nothing to worry about besides putting away your hoses for the winter.
If your city does not turn off the irrigation water, then you need to find where your side of the irrigation water is located.
This is typically found in a green box somewhere in your yard.
It is most likely somewhere near your house.
I one time had to find ours by searching around under all the gravel in our yard.
Locate it and remember where it is for next time.
Once you have located it, take the lid off the green box and you will find either a either a gate valve or a ball valve.
A gate valve looks like a wheel, turn it clockwise until it does not turn anymore. Then it will be turned off.
A ball valve is handle. If the handle is parallel to the pipe, then it is turned on, or the valve pipe is open.
If the ball valve is turned so it is perpendicular to the pipe, then the pipe is closed.
Turn off the valve and move to the next step.
3) Draining the pipes
Once you have turned off the water supply (the valves) to the faucets, you will then want to open the faucets so any remaining water gets drained out.
So open the faucets and let the water drain out.
4) Apply short bursts of air
In addition to keeping the faucets open for some time, you will also want to apply bursts of air through the pipes.
The bursts of air will push out any remaining water from the pipes.
If you have an air compressor, that will work best.
If you don’t have an air compressor, then bursts from cans of air will do just as well.
Make sure they are short bursts of air, so as to not overload the pipes with air.
Apply the short bursts for a few minutes or until you no longer see water draining from the pipe.
5) Adding protection to the pipes
The last thing you can do is protect the pipes by adding some protections to them.
That includes some pipe insulating jackets.
You can find some of these jackets on Amazon here.
The pipe insulation helps keep the pipes from freezing in the winter and sweating in the summer.
It should fit right over the pipes with very little effort.
It might seem like the easy way out to leave your pipes alone during the winter and hope no one tries to use them.
This could be the case, but in the case of a burst pipe, your pipe could leak at least 50 gallons a minute.
So, do what you need to do ahead of time.
Don’t leave it up to chance whether or not someone it going to try to use a faucet.
Follow the 5 above steps to ensure that your pipes are winterize and that you won’t have to deal with a plumber to come and fix a huge water leak.