Frost-free hose bibs are great devices that can be used to minimize the potential for cracked or burst pipes, due to freezing temperatures in the winter or late fall months. These taps can be used year-round, which is often desirable for those of us living in rural areas or on farms. Traditional hose-bibs must be fully winterized each year in order to prevent freezing, whereas frost-free hydrants are built and installed with features that automatically minimize the risk of freezing.
How does a frost-free hose bib work?
Frost-free hose bibs are designed to keep water out of the area of piping that is exposed to the elements. These design features include the following:
· length of the pipe (i.e. pipe that goes into the house is longer than traditional faucet)
· positioning of the valve (shut-off valve is positioned further inside house where temperature is warmer)
· angle of the pipe (positioned at a downward angle promote drainage)
These design features are very helpful in reducing the chances of a split pipe due to freezing, however there are still some potential issues that could arise.
Finding a Leak in the Spring
Many people have the unfortunate experience of discovering a leak in their home, upon the first use (or after a few short uses) of their frost-free hydrant. Although the issue is not recognized until late spring, the damage was done in the fall or winter months, when the temperature dropped to at or below freezing. But how can this be you ask? These hose bibs are supposed to be frost-free? Frost-free hose bibs will only remain frost-free if they are able to drain properly. If the hose bib is not able to drain properly and fully, water may remain in the exposed pipe, leaving the potential for a split as soon as the temperature drops to at or below freezing.
Tips for Optimal Use of Frost-Free Hose Bib
· In early Fall, be sure to follow the weather reports, and disconnect any hoses if there is a risk of frost or freezing (hoses or any connections to the hose bib will block the pipe from fully draining, which leads to risk of freezing and splitting)
· These hoses may still be used throughout the year, as you will have access to water with your frost-free hose bib, just be sure to disconnect and drain immediately after use
· It only takes one frost to damage your piping, and you may not know that the damage has been done until spring, so upon first use it is recommended to do a quick check for leaks (this goes for traditional hose bibs as well)
· Be sure to fully tighten the handle of your hose bib in the winter months, as even a small drip could build up and cause freezing (and subsequent splitting) that you may not notice until Spring