Preventing Winter Water Leaks from the Hose Bib

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If you asked most homeowners in Cincinnati ‘what is a hose bib,’ it’s a safe bet they wouldn’t know. Not a big deal, most people are unfamiliar with the technical names of components in their home’s plumbing system.

It’s generally a plumbing part you only learn about after there’s a problem. Instead, let’s provide information from our licensed plumbers on this important plumbing component. We’ll cover what it is and how to care for it to prevent water leaks.

What Is a Hose Bib?

If you wonder what a hose bib is, take a look around your home’s exterior. You likely have one on the rear side of your home, and maybe also one on the front side.

So, what is a hose bib? A hose bib, also called a sill cock or simply a hose spigot, is the outdoor water tap on the exterior of your home. This spigot has a threaded spout that allows the homeowner to connect a garden hose for outdoor water use.

When you are finished with outdoor water use and turn the valve off, the hose bib is designed to drain out water from the exterior portion of the component. This is to protect itself against water freezing within the component. This causes damage to the hose bib and frozen pipes inside your home that supply the hose bib with water. A cracked hose bib must be replaced to prevent water leaks inside your home.

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How to Prevent Water Leaks from the Hose Bib

It’s important you disconnect any attached hoses from the hose bib before cold weather hits. When a hose is attached, water does not drain out of the hose bib. The water inside swells when it freezes, leading to cracks. A cracked hose bib allows for continuous water leaks until the unit is replaced.

hose bib shutoff valve example

Prevent hose bib water leaks and damage when you take the following steps before winter arrives:

  1. Find the hose bib’s shutoff valve inside your home’s basement, crawlspace, or utility closet.
  2. Adjust the shutoff valve to stop the supply of water to the hose bib.
  3. Detach the hose from the hose bib outside. Drain the water from your hose and store it in a protected area until spring.
  4. After the hose is disconnected, turn the hose bib on and allow any water left inside to run out.
  5. Leave the hose bib on through the winter in case the shutoff valve leaks, allowing water into the hose bib’s supply line. This allows leaked water to escape, rather than freeze within the pipe.
  6. Return to the shutoff valve location and identify the bleeder valve (it’s usually under the shutoff valve with a small metal cap). Place a bowl under the bleeder valve and remove its cap so excess water drains out.
  7. Put the cap back on the bleeder valve and retighten.
  8. Repeat these steps for all hose bibs at your home.

What Happens if a Hose Bib Freezes?

Even if the plumbing appears fine all winter, some homeowners discover the problem in the spring when they use their outdoor hose for the first time. We’ve sent our plumbers to homes where someone used a powerwasher or left a hose running to fill a pool only to flood their crawlspace and house.

Water damage is no joke. It costs homeowners and insurance companies every year. Here are some eye-opening statistics in this infographic based on insurance industry information.

Home Water Damage

What Is a Frost Free Hose Bib?

A frost free hose bib is a specially-designed outdoor spigot that prevents freezing during the winter months. As freezing is quite common in the Cincinnati area, these hose bibs are handy. Frost free hose bibs look just like regular hose bibs on the outside of your home, but the interior components are slightly different.

The frost free hose bib’s interior piping is longer, with the shutoff valve located farther away from the exterior wall. The pipe also angles downwards to allow for the easy draining of any water leaks. With the shutoff valve closer to the home’s center, water stays warmer so there is less of a risk of freezing.

What Is a Hose Bib? Apollo Home Has the Answer!

For maintenance, repair, and replacement of hose bibs on Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky area homes, Apollo Home has the solutions you need.

Contact us today to schedule service for your hose bib or to discuss an upgrade to a frost free model. Need a licensed electrician or heating and cooling help? We can take care of that too!

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