How to Winterize Outside Faucets

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated December 17, 2021
Rustic steel faucet over stone bird bath
Photo: benbro / Adobe Stock

Use these steps to winterize your outdoor faucets to prevent burst pipes when freezing conditions hit

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Put winterizing your outdoor faucets on your checklist as you winterize your home before the first freeze of the season. Faucet winterization is important for preventing burst pipes. Leaving your faucet unprotected can lead to flooding and water damage in your house. Get your outdoor faucet winterized with these five simple steps.

1. Disconnect Your Hoses

Man wearing gloves disconnects yard hose
Photo: Budimir Jevtic / Adobe Stock

Start by doing a visual inspection of all of your outdoor faucets. Disconnect any hoses still connected from previous seasons. You'll also want to take off any splitters attached to your faucets.

Once you disconnect your hoses, drain any lingering water from them. You can then put them away for winter storage until spring.

2. Locate Your Shutoff Valves

Hand shutting off water valve
Photo: glebchik / Adobe Stock

You may not already know your shutoff valve’s location for your outdoor faucet if this is your first year in a new house. You’ll usually find shutoff valves for outdoor faucets inside your home, often on the basement wall corresponding to your outdoor faucet.

Most shutoff valves for outdoor faucets are taps that require clockwise rotation to shut off.

3. Drain Your Outside Faucet Completely

Drain your outdoor faucet one last time. This is also a chance to test that you properly shut off your valve. Allow any excess water to trickle out from the faucet. If water keeps coming, you may need to tighten the interior shutoff valve.

Once your faucet drains, keep the handle in the "on" position when you close things up for the winter.

4. Insulate Your Faucet

Hand installing outdoor faucet cover
Photo: C5Media / Adobe Stock

Don't leave a drained faucet exposed for the winter. Pick up an outdoor faucet cover for a few dollars at your local hardware store. You can also add spray foam insulation near openings to stop cool air from seeping into your walls to cause frozen pipes.

If you live in a particularly chilly climate, consider having a plumber install a new freeze-proof faucet for you. This type of faucet automatically drains any water that enters when the faucet is in the "off" position to prevent a frozen buildup that can cause a pipe to burst.

5. Consider Having a Plumbing Pro Winterize Your Faucet This Year if You're Unsure About the Process

Bringing in a local plumbing pro to properly winterize your outdoor faucet is wise if you have no experience with winterization techniques. Having a professional guide you through the process just one time may be enough for you to take over the job the following year. The benefit of bringing in a pro to look at your outdoor faucets is that they can also alert you to any cracks, gaps, or weak points that could be putting you at risk for wintertime pipe troubles.

In addition to helping you prevent a burst pipe at your home, a plumber can also ensure proper winterization of any irrigation pipes you use for your sprinkler system. You may need an irrigation blowout that involves draining all your lines to prevent frozen sprinkler lines.

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