Outside water faucets go by many names—it seems everyone has a different name for them. They might be called hydrants, sill-cocks, hose faucets, or hose bibs. Today’s modern “outside faucets” are designed to be “frost-free” and have an “anti-siphon” feature built into them.
This Frost-Free aspect should not be interpreted as “Frost Proof.” These faucets protect themselves from freezing by extending the actual shut-off component deep inside the wall of the home where is “less likely” to freeze.
If you leave the garden hose connected however, water will remain in the portion of the valve that is hose-side of the shut-off. This eliminates the frost free aspect of the valve. You might not even know it was broken because the next time you run the water it is noisy enough to cover the sound of leaking that might be going on inside the crawl space or inside the wall where it can’t be seen. I check every outside valve (that I can) with a gauge, not to just to get the water pressure, but to make sure that there is no leaking under back pressure—you can usually hear it with the gauge in place—hissing like some snake.
The anti-siphon component is designed to prevent sucking dirty water back into the house plumbing under negative pressure. For example a slight negative pressure will be placed on the open valve if there is a large demand for water somewhere else in the home or if the fire department flushes/uses a fire hydrant down the street. We don’t want to pull the water from the kids wading pool back into the house plumbing.
The mounting flange on these faucets is angled slightly (or has a spacer to help with keeping it at an angle) so that when it is screwed to the side of the home the pipe will have a slight slope upward toward the interior of the home. If you install the pipe sideways, as shown in the picture, (especially with the angle of the bevel siding) the valve pipe will slope the wrong way and trap water against the valve all the time. This completely eliminates the frost-free aspect of the valve. Most manufacturers even provide a little plastic shim when the valve is going to be installed on bevel siding to compensate for the angle of the siding.
The view from inside the crawl space shows the slope of the pipe to the valve.
Of course this valve is further compromised by the lack of insulation around the pipe as well—something that you certainly would not get away with in colder climates.
I frequently see frost-proofing insulated covers on these frost-free valves. This is a waste of money. One time I found a cover completely filled with ice from a very tiny leak in the valve—-obviously eliminating the frost-free component of the valve. So don’t install these covers on frost-free type valves and don’t leave your hoses connected in the winter.
Speaking of winter—that is what is going on right now.
Do you know where your hoses are?
If you enjoyed this post, and would like to get notices of new posts to my blog, please subscribe via email in the little box to the right. I promise NO spamming of your email