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Winterization of outdoor fittings

Remove all hoses

Regardless of what type of outdoor faucet you have (freeze-proof or not), it is important to remove any hoses, manifolds, or other fittings that are screwed onto the faucet before winter sets in. If you don’t remove the hoses, water can build up and a faucet is much more likely to freeze. This is always a difficult step, as most people want to use outdoor water until the weather begins to freeze.

Check the taps

The next step to winterizing outdoor water taps is to find and repair leaks. Check all taps, hydrants and other fixtures for leaks and drips. If you find a problem, repair or replace the fixture before the temperature drops to freezing. Dripping water indicates a tap with a leaking washer or cartridge, which can clog and freeze in the tap or the pipe that supplies it.

Drain the spigot and pipes

The next step is to get as much water out of the pipes as possible. If you have an outdoor faucet that is not freeze-proof, it is best to shut off that pipe (if possible) and drain the water into a bucket while temperatures are still above freezing. This can usually be done by shutting off an inside shut-off valve on the water line leading to the tap. Then open the tap and leave it open for a few hours until the water drains from the pipe. After the water has drained, close the tap again. If there is no indoor shut-off valve, it becomes even more important to carefully isolate the tap from the outside world.

However, just as with normal outdoor receptacles, hoses and other attachments should be removed from frost-proof receptacles and yard hydrants before winter, or they may not drain properly.

Install covers for outdoor faucets

An easy way to do this is to install an outdoor faucet cover on every outdoor faucet, including frost-free taps. Faucet covers are either square or dome-shaped shells that fit directly over outdoor faucets, or they are flexible pockets of thick fabric filled with insulation.

When covering normal taps that are not frost-proof, additional loose insulation can be placed inside the tap cover to keep it warm and dry throughout the winter. However, in most cases, the faucet cover is sufficient insulation.

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