What is an Outdoor Freeze Proof Faucet, and How Does It Work?

freeze proof faucet

⭐ What is an Outdoor Freeze Proof Faucet?

When you live in the northern United States or Canada, burst water pipes can be a real problem.

But, even if you live a little more south than that and get attacked by the occasional polar vortex from the arctic, you could also face the same problem with your water system.

Outdoor faucets are vulnerable to freezing weather if not maintained correctly.

 So what is the best way to avoid a massive uncontrollable leak bought about by a frozen outdoor spigot or faucet? 

You use an outdoor freeze-proof faucet!

⭐ How Does an Outdoor Freeze Proof Faucet Work?

An outdoor freeze-proof faucet is a type of tap, sillcock, or spigot that is resistant to freezing. To stop the problem of freezing water pipes, the shut-off valve or compression valve for the faucet is situated further back into the interior of your home, where the inside temperature is higher.

outdoor frost free spigot

When looking at a frost-free faucet, also known as a freeze proof spigot, it seems the same as a conventional faucet, but that’s where the similarity ends.

One noticeable feature is a long pipe from the water shutoff valve to the tap.

This pipe should also be installed on a slight downward angle to assist the water drainage in ensuring nothing freezes inside the pipe.

frost proof sillcock

Traditional faucets have the compression valve directly behind the faucet handle.

If you live in an area susceptible to cold snaps that can freeze pipes, all outdoor faucets should be replaced with freeze-proof ones.

The same problem exists for garden taps not mounted to the walls of your home.

You should be using a freeze-proof yard hydrant designed in the same manner as the freeze proof spigots.

The shutoff ball valve is connected to the faucet handle via a long faucet tube.

This upright design puts the water connection deep into the ground below the frost line, where it cannot freeze.

⭐ Breakdown of a Freeze-Proof Outdoor Faucet

freeze proof outdoor faucet internal view

This type of faucet looks and operates the same way as any other spigot or tap.

The main difference is the long pipe that reaches further into the warmer area of your house, where the water is kept behind a shutoff valve that won’t freeze.

A vacuum breaker is also fitted to prevent backflow and contamination of the local water supply.

These are also known as anti-siphon valves.

This valve stops water from being sucked back into the system, where unsanitary water can contaminate your existing water supply.

How this is set up depends on your local ordinances codes regarding water connection.

So do your research before installing an outdoor faucet.

⭐ Freeze Proof Outdoor Spigot Installation

freeze proof outdoor faucet installation

Unless you’re a serious DIYer, this job is best left to a plumbing professional.

But if you want to give it a go, keep reading.

When mounting this type of faucet to your siding, it needs a large hole to accommodate the shutoff valve mechanism.

This hole is usually 1 and 1/8 inches (28.5mm) in diameter.

Once the hole is drilled, you insert the longer tube and push it in until the faucet is flush with your siding and secure the collar of the tap to the siding with the supplied screws.

Don’t forget to mount the faucet and pipe with a slight downward angle to aid in water drainage.

You are now ready to connect it to your existing water supply.

Connecting the frost-free faucet to your existing water supply is the same as all the other water connections in your home.

If you have copper pipe and don’t want to learn how to solder fittings together, you can use a push-to-connect system like Sharkbite plumbing products which are easy to install.

These “push to connect” plumbing systems make it much easier if you have plastic water pipes.

If your home is fitted with an older supply pipe made from galvanized steel plumbing, be aware that you need a dielectric union, such as a special adapter between the two dissimilar metals.

The faucet made from brass or copper will cause galvanic corrosion if directly connected to steel pipe.

freeze proof hydrant
Outdoor Freeze Proof Hydrant

✔️ PRO TIP: Ensure that the shutoff valve is situated far enough inside your home to ensure it won’t freeze. Likewise, ensure you fill in any gaps in the insulation and seal around the tap fixture to reduce the likelihood of freezing.

⭐ Keeping your Faucets from Freezing

Fitting a freeze-proof spigot can help reduce freezing events but may not completely stop them.

You still need to conduct yearly maintenance to decrease the potential water damage.

Frozen burst outdoor pipe

You want to make sure you remove all garden hoses connected to your outdoor faucets to ensure all water is drained from your outdoor pipes.

This is a little more difficult with a yard hydrant because it’s installed vertically.

Before winter, you will need to check it and drain the vertical pipe through the sealed drain hole fitted to the base of the hydrant.

✅ PRO TIP: If it gets really cold, you should consider dripping your faucets to prevent your pipes from bursting.

📗 Related Reading:

Final Thoughts

 A bit of forethought and planning in the fall can ensure you and your family don’t suffer from a freezing pipe event that can cause severe damage to your home.

Phyxter Approved Logo on Service Truck

 If you live in the North Okanagan region and want to learn more about freeze-proof faucet installation or your home’s plumbing, call Phyxter Home Services.

We pride ourselves on providing our local community with quality plumbing services.

Want to learn more? Check out our other plumbing articles on our blog.

Related Reading: DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions

Russell Jones

Russell, a native Australian and VP of Operations at Phyxter Home Services, is also part-owner of Vernon Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical Services. When he's not busy with work projects and renovations, Russell enjoys putting his vast knowledge of home improvement to good use by sharing his tips and tricks.

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