Last Updated on January 26, 2022 by Grow with Bovees
Freezing weather can make your hose bib and outside faucet frozen solid.
Water expands when it freezes, which can result in a frozen faucet causing burst pipes and your home flooding when it thaws out.
So let’s look at how to thaw a frozen pipe out safely to restore water flow and then prevent it from freezing again when the next cold snap and freezing temperatures come along.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes, Outdoor Faucets, and Hose Bibs
It’s important to take steps to thaw out pipes as soon as you realize they’re frozen. This should help to limit or prevent major water damage and prevention of a plumbing emergency.
Frozen Outdoor Faucet Water Supply Lines
First of all open the outdoor faucet the supply line leads to and make sure the internal shut-off valve is open.
Find the frozen section of pipe and wrap it with heat tape or a heating pad and warm the room by using a space heater or turning up your home heating.
It’s never a good idea to use a propane gas heater, open flame, or charcoal stove to warm up the air around the pipe as these heat appliances can generate harmful levels of carbon monoxide in an enclosed space.
Instead, use a hairdryer to gently waft warm air over the section of frozen pipe until water starts trickling from the outside tap.
Now shut off the internal valve for the supply pipe and continue gently warming the pipe, turning on the internal shut-off valve every few minutes to see if full water flow is restored.
Once the water is flowing, shut off the outdoor faucet and check for any leaks or burst pipes around the area that was frozen.
To prevent further problems with the supply line freezing, winterize the pipe and hose bib by following the instructions below.
Frozen Outdoor Faucets and Hose Bibs
First of all, make sure the outdoor water spigot is open.
Locate the spot where the hose bib pipe goes through the external wall and move round to the interior space to identify where it comes through, usually in the crawl space or basement.
Wrap the frozen outdoor faucet in some old rags or old towels and carefully pour boiling water on them so they can start to thaw out the frozen hose bib.
You can also use a hair dryer or heat gun to warm them up.
Keep an eye out for a trickle of water from the hose bib as that means things are starting to thaw. Keep heating the spigot with hot water or hot air until a normal flow of water is restored and then shut off the outdoor tap.
Make sure you winterize the outdoor hose bib or faucet to prevent problems in the future by following the tips below.
Frozen Pipes in an Exterior Wall
Sometimes pipes in an external wall exposed to very cold winds can freeze and this means you may have to cut into the wall from the inside to locate the problem.
First of all, work out which water pipes are frozen by opening different taps around your home. If some taps work and others don’t, it’s likely a supply line is frozen nearby.
If none of the taps work your main water line may have frozen solid and you will need to call in a plumber to sort it out.
Leave the taps that have stopped working open.
Once you have an idea where the internal supply lines are that have frozen, carefully use a drywall saw to cut a hole in the drywall and access the area around the pipework.
Wrap the frozen pipe with heat tape or a heat blanket and leave the pipes exposed so that warm air from the house can circulate around them.
As the pipes thaw, water will begin to drip from the open taps and once the faucets are flowing normally they can be shut off.
Check the pipes that were frozen for damage and repair if necessary. Once repaired, insulate them to prevent freezing in the future and make good the hole you had to cut in the drywall.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes During Cold Weather
When the cold weather arrives and outside temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, indoor and outdoor pipes around your home are at risk of freezing.
It’s possible of course that a frozen pipe may thaw out and be fine, but that’s often not the case.
Why You Should Worry About Frozen Pipes
Frozen water expands within a pipe and if it has nowhere to go, the increased pressure may result in a burst water line.
When outdoor pipes, faucets, and hose bibs freeze, it can be easy to overlook the problems this can cause when the warmer weather comes and they thaw out naturally without you realizing the extent of water damage.
Leaks inside crawlspaces and basements, mold growth, foundation water damage, and exterior wall cracks are all common issues faced by homeowners caused by pipework freezing during the winter or spring that were not quickly rectified.
The best way to protect your home is to prevent the pipes, hose bibs, and outdoor faucets from freezing in the first place.
If you are unlucky enough to be caught out, and your hose bib or faucet freezes, and you need to replace the damaged frozen sections of your plumbing system, then we’ve got you covered if you are looking for the best outdoor faucet to suit your needs.
Tips to Prevent Frozen Hose Bibs, Pipes, and Frozen Faucets
Your outdoor garden hose spigot is one area that’s always going to be prone to freezing. When the water inside a garden hose freezes it can extend beyond the hose bib into the supply line which in turn can burst and cause a flood inside your home with a risk of water damage.
The following steps will help to protect your outdoor pipes.
Normal Hose Bibbs
Detach your expandable hose from your outdoor spigot and drain it before coiling and storing it in a clean, dry indoor space such as a garage or garden shed.
Find the indoor shut-off water valve on the water supply pipe that feeds the hose bib and close it.
Note that if your home has a secondary irrigation system, there may be a secondary water shut-off near the water meter.
Older faucets often had a drainage port somewhere near the water shutoff. If yours has one place a bucket under the drainage line and allow any remaining water to drain out before closing it.
If there is no drainage port, open the outdoor faucet again to allow as much water to drain out as possible. This step will mean any water left in the pipe has room to expand should it freeze.
Finally, turn off the spigot and place an insulated foam cover over the bib.
Frost Free Hose Bibs
Frost-free bibs are more common in newer homes but are definitely worth investing in if you don’t have them and live in an area prone to cold winters.
This type of bib is installed so the supply line slopes down to it from inside the house allowing water to drain completely when you follow the same steps as above for the normal hose bib.
Final Words – Frozen Outdoor Faucet Prevention
Installing insulation on outdoor hose bibs and water supply pipes can prevent outdoor frozen water pipes:
- Insulating waterproof faucet covers shield outside faucets from cold winter weather and are easy to install.
- Foam pipe insulation comes with a slit that makes it equally simple to install by sliding over supply lines and water pipes.
- Make sure you insulate any exterior pipework and pipes that run through unheated interior areas, such as supply lines in garages, crawlspaces, basements, and attics.
Finally, keep an eye on the weather forecast and if sub-zero temperatures are predicted, consider keeping water moving by opening any vulnerable internal taps just enough to allow a trickle of water through.