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Old 01-04-2010, 01:51 PM   #1
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


I have two outdoor water faucets on the exterior of my house. We're starting to experience a cold snap with temps consistently below freezing, which is uncommon for this area (suburban Atlanta). I went to the home store and picked up a couple of those polystyrene faucet covers with foam gaskets to strap on the faucets and hopefully help protect them from the cold.

When I went to install one of the two covers, I saw a chunk of ice on the ground - cylindrical in shape and roughly 3" long and 1" in diameter - directly below the faucet. We've had no precipitation recently, so I can only assume this somehow a product of the faucet. Is this an indication of something having already gone wrong?

The second faucet has an accessible shutoff valve inside the house (in the garage) that I have already closed and bled the outside valve. I am not sure if a similar interior shut off valve exists for the other outdoor faucet.

Do I need to be concerned beyond installing the faucet covers? What other precautions are reasonable to take in this situation? The last thing I would like to wake up to is a busted pipe. Thanks in advance for any insight.

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Old 01-04-2010, 02:02 PM   #2
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


Seems I spoke too soon. I just went on a recon mission in the basement and found the shutoff valve for the other faucet; I closed it, went outside and bled the faucet, and replaced the faucet cover.

Should I be okay at this point?

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Old 01-04-2010, 02:11 PM   #3
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


Hi Dave,

Chilly this morning, isn't it. I'm in SC, across the border from you. The car said it was 21F at 8AM.

The cone sounds like you might have a drip. Maybe need a new washer.

A lot of houses around here don't have any protection on their faucets and do just fine. There's something a lot of people don't understand about freezing pipes. Ice expands within the pipe, raising the pressure of the un-frozen water. If you leave an inside faucet dripping, then the expansion will be totally harmless. Even without the drip, the amount of ice you have will probably just raise the pressure a little bit. I have an outside spigot that's got two feet of exposed iron pipe out in the yard. Hasn't been a problem in the 10 years since I've put it in.

You can get a problem if pipes can freeze in the middle of a run, or even worse, in two separats spots. Like if you have pipes running near foundataion vents.

That said, I've installed frost free spigots on my house. But that's more from a desire to have running water in the winter than anything.
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:22 PM   #4
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


Hi pyper,

We're sitting at 31 now, projecting 15 for an overnight low - chilly indeed.

Thanks for the advice - just trying to avoid becoming one of the horror stories I've heard about.
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:32 PM   #5
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


Here are two horror stories for you:

I rented a garage apartment and the landlady told me to leave the water dripping when it got cold because the water pipe was so close to the surface it would burst undground in the yard!

My Dad was in Army quarters and the people next door turned the heat down when they went out of town. Pipes ran in the cavity over the utility room door. Froze. Broke. I was visiting for Christmas and said, hey, why's there water coming from under the wall? They had over an inch of water in thier unit and the only thing that stopped a major disaster was me dropping some popcorn and reaching down to pick it up.

Better to be safe than sorry though. If you're not sure just leave a slow drip.

15 huh? We got that wood stove in just in time. I set up a fire this morning -- hope my wife lights it when she gets home!
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:28 PM   #6
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


Thanks Greg! I've got both shut-offs closed now, and no hoses are attached.

I was skeptical about the foam faucet covers, but they were only 98 cents a pop so no big loss there I guess.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:03 PM   #7
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


Hee, Hee, Hey Dave, I'm down the road in Albany, Ga. and those temps are coming into our area today. Let's see--it's now 31 degrees and dropping, rather unusual for us also. The low tonight is predicted to be 21 degrees. I happened to go to Lowe's today for a small item and they had those hard, foam, faucet covers right up front along with the pipe insulation. It looked like the day after Thanksgiving with those items. As far as the small piece of ice, I have seen them down here before. I agree that you may have a small drip which the colder weather will make worse as the outside faucet stem and washer shrink with colder weather. We were taught this in Water Treatment classes I attended a while back. Turning off the water at an inside source is good, and I would not be hesitant to put the faucet covers on also. That way you will be "in style" with the neighbors. Get some warm weather started up there, I will be in Roswell on Monday and in Norcross on Tuesday and Wednesday. When you think that is really is cold, remember that my daughter lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, where it is only -9 degrees right now and my daughter says they are having a "warm spell". Good Luck, David
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:11 PM   #8
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveinGA View Post
I have two outdoor water faucets on the exterior of my house. We're starting to experience a cold snap with temps consistently below freezing, which is uncommon for this area (suburban Atlanta). I went to the home store and picked up a couple of those polystyrene faucet covers with foam gaskets to strap on the faucets and hopefully help protect them from the cold.

When I went to install one of the two covers, I saw a chunk of ice on the ground - cylindrical in shape and roughly 3" long and 1" in diameter - directly below the faucet. We've had no precipitation recently, so I can only assume this somehow a product of the faucet. Is this an indication of something having already gone wrong?

The second faucet has an accessible shutoff valve inside the house (in the garage) that I have already closed and bled the outside valve. I am not sure if a similar interior shut off valve exists for the other outdoor faucet.

Do I need to be concerned beyond installing the faucet covers? What other precautions are reasonable to take in this situation? The last thing I would like to wake up to is a busted pipe. Thanks in advance for any insight.
Is the garage, which has the shutoff valve, heated?
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:29 PM   #9
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


I used to shut off the inside valve and open the ouside faucet, but since buying the foam covers more than 10 years ago the process is much simpler.
  1. Remove the hose and goose-neck adapter (if used)
  2. Install the foam covers
Folks who see lower winter temps that I experience here in the Detroit area may want/need to take further action. But for the brief and mild cold spell the South-east will be seeing this week (compared to what I normally see) the foam covers will be fine.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:04 PM   #10
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


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Originally Posted by MI-Roger View Post
spell the South-east will be seeing this week (compared to what I normally see) the foam covers will be fine.
The building I work in (a frame house on a crawl space) has three outdoor faucets, and no one has ever done anything to protect them from the cold. It hasn't ever been a problem, as far as I can tell. But the foam covers sure won't hurt any!
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:29 PM   #11
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


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Originally Posted by pyper View Post

I have an outside spigot that's got two feet of exposed iron pipe out in the yard. Hasn't been a problem in the 10 years since I've put it in.

DOH!! I neglected to knock on wood! I got a call at 5 from my wife -- "that spigot near the shed broke and is gushing water -- how do I turn it off??"

The iron pipe broke, so I had to dig down to the other end, remove it and put a plug in it. In the cold, in the dark, and in the mud. At least the mud was pretty much frozen.

I see a frost free hydrant in my spring!
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:03 PM   #12
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


pyper - say it ain't so!! What a drag... sorry to hear about that. I think 10 years is a pretty good run, though.

MI-Roger - thanks! Hopefully I'm pretty well-covered now. I know it seems silly to those above the Mason-Dixon line, but when the mercury dips below 20 in Georgia, it's a notable event.

handy man88 - the garage (where the other shut-off valve is located) is not heated.

Thurman - saw the pipe insulation, too... right next to the foam covers. Funny... it's just like when the corner store sets out the big bin full of umbrellas when it starts to rain. Hope your trip up this way is good.

Folks around here will NOT shut up about this tremendous, awe-inspiring snow storm that they're just certain will happen tomorrow night......
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:21 PM   #13
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


I saw the pic on the weather about the big dip in the middle of the country
I think they said 26 states had weather warnings out
We aren't doing too bad here

Dang global warming
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:41 AM   #14
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


please do not let the water drip on any outside faucet to keep from freezing.only bad things will follow
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:47 PM   #15
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Outdoor faucets and freezing temps


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handy man88 - the garage (where the other shut-off valve is located) is not heated.
So what is the point of the interior shutoff valve?

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