The outdoor faucet is often forgotten because, if it drips, it may not be easily noticed. However, even a small drip can cost you. A small leak can cause you to pay for hundreds of gallons of water that are unused. Many repairs are relatively simple for a do-it-your-self-er. Why not save a costly call to a plumber and give an outdoor faucet repair a try?
What Is The Purpose Of An Outdoor Faucet?
An outdoor faucet gives you access to water for chores accomplished outside. It can allow you to wash your vehicle, water your flowers, water or spray off vegetables in a garden, wash your sidewalks, fill a kids' pool, or clean your tools. Your outdoor faucet is subject to the elements of the outdoors, so it is important you check it for wear. Wear to faucets can occur due to cracking or deterioration because of both heat and cold. Here we will discuss tips for an outdoor faucet repair.
Other Uses Of Water Sources Outdoors
A traditional outdoor faucet is not the only water source outdoors. A yard hydrant is a free-standing vertical spigot that can be installed outdoors. It can allow you to have easy access to water without running hoses from traditional outdoor faucets.
An outdoor faucet may be part of an outdoor kitchen. It allows easy access to water for cooking and cleaning when grilling or preparing food outdoors.
Some people have outdoor showers. This is especially handy if you live by the beach and want to rinse off the sand. If you have a pool, you can rinse off before or after taking a swim.
Terms To Know In Outdoor Faucet Repair
- Faucet - controls the flow of water
- Spigot - another way to refer to a faucet in the United States; can be used to refer to a faucet used outdoors; a term that may be used by plumbers
- Hose bibb - where you attach the hose to an outdoor faucet
- Packing nut - a fitting that is behind the faucet handle; can be adjusted to repair leaks
- Frost free faucet - has a washer and valve located on the end of a long shank; also known as a sillcock
Hose Bibb Parts
A hose bibb consists of a few internal parts.
- Rubber washer
- Packing nut
- Phillips screw
How To Accomplish Outdoor Faucet Repair Or Replacement
If your outdoor faucet is leaking, you may be able to do an outdoor faucet repair yourself. Most homeowners have the basic tools needed for the types of repairs discussed here: adjustable wrench, replacement washer, soft-bristled brush, spray lubricant, and Teflon (plumber's) tape. Keep in mind that not all of these repairs require all of these tools. Many experts recommend buying a variety of washers in different sizes and types so that you can have them on hand as this is a common repair in a variety of faucets.
Leak From The Handle
Many times, an outdoor faucet leak can be fixed by tightening the packing nut behind the handle. This outdoor faucet repair requires an adjustable set of pliers and a little of your time. Simply turn the nut behind the handle 1/8 to 1/4 of a turn. If you turn the faucet back on and it no longer leaks, you have solved the issue.
Leak From The Joint To The Supply Line
If the faucet leaks from the joint to the supply line, remove the faucet. Inspect the threads for damage. Clean the threads and wrap them with Teflon tape. Reinstall the faucet. Turn the water back on to see if the leak is gone.
What If I Have A Faucet That Is Stuck?
Use your adjustable pliers. Apply pressure while rotating with your pliers counterclockwise. If that does not work, spray a lubricant around the valve stem and nut of the faucet. Wait a few minutes for the lubricant to work. Attempt to loosen the nut again.
Replace The Washer
If your faucet still leaks after trying the previous repairs, investigate further. The next step is to check the washer on the end of the valve stem to see if it should be replaced. Here's how to accomplish this outdoor faucet repair.
- Turn off the water at the meter. This may require using a key. It may also be accomplished by turning a shutoff valve.
- Unscrew the packing nut located behind the faucet handle.
- Grab the faucet handle and pull the valve stem out of hose bibb.
- Remove the screw on the valve stem holding the faucet washer.
- Replace the washer with a new one. Ensure the washer is of the same size and thickness as the old one.
- Place the valve stem back into the hose bibb housing.
- Tighten the packing nut on the hose bibb until tightened.
- Turn the water meter back on.
- Turn the spigot on to remove any air from the line.
- Check for leaks around the valve stem and packing nut.
- Turn the faucet off to check the spigot for leaks.
Upgrading To A Frost Free Faucet
Both a standard and frost free faucet allow a valve to open and close in order to control water flow. The location of the valve is the difference between the two types of faucets. On a regular faucet, the washer, which is inside the faucet, sits outside of the home and can freeze. A frost free faucet has a long shank with the washer at the end. This allows the washer to be inside the home where it won't freeze. Many people refer to this outdoor frost free faucet assembly as a sillcock. Here is what you will need for an outdoor faucet repair to upgrade to a frost-free faucet.
How To Choose A New Faucet
Take your old faucet with you to the hardware or home improvement store. Even though you are upgrading from a standard to a frost-free faucet, having your old faucet with you will help you determine the size and type of new faucet to purchase. Here are some other things to consider:
- Thread size - Get the same size thread as your old faucet (these usually come in 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch)
- Thread type - Male has threads on the outside and female has threads on the inside
What You Need
- Outdoor frost free faucet (sillcock)
- Pipe cutter
- Copper adapter
- Drill with bit set
- Concrete screws
- Spray foam (minimal expansion)
- Adjustable wrench
- Emery cloth
- Pipe coupling
- Soldering iron
How To Do It
- From inside the home, use a tubing cutter to cut the cold-water pipe leading to the outdoor faucet. Use a bucket to catch the water which may drain from the pipe after cutting.
- From the outside of the home, pull out the old faucet. Discard it.
- Wrap Teflon tape around the threads at the end of the frost proof faucet.
- Install a copper adapter to the end of the faucet and tighten it with a wrench.
- Mock up the frost proof faucet by placing it in the existing hole.
- Mark where the screws will attach to the wall for the new faucet. Drill holes to attach where the new faucet is to be attached to the outside of the wall.
- Apply foam (minimal expansion) behind the new faucet and install it by screwing it into the wall.
- Using a wrench, unscrew and take out the stem unit. This will prevent the washer from melting when doing soldering in a later step.
- Return to the inside of the home where the pipe enters. Use an emery cloth to clean the end of the water supply pipe.
- Use a tubing cutter to cut a piece of copper pipe to extend from a copper adapter on the faucet to the end of the water supply pipe.
- Apply flux to the ends of the copper pipe.
- Slide a coupling onto the pipe and insert it in between the adapter end and the end of the water supply pipe.
- Solder the pipe and coupling to the adapter and water supply pipe.
- Go back outside to install the stem piece. Tighten with a wrench.
- Turn on the water to check for leaks.
Outdoor faucet repair should not be intimidating. Many repairs can be accomplished with just the most basic of tools in your toolbox. Remember, you should always take precautions during the winter months to protect your lines from freezing.
- Disconnect outdoor water hoses
- Close indoor shutoff valves
- Invest in a frost-free faucet
If your line has frozen, you suspect there is a blockage in your line, or you feel in over your head with a repair, call a professional. If there is little or no water pressure, this can be caused by a blockage or a frozen pipe. If you have a blockage, this can be caused by mineral deposits such as lime or calcium. A plumber may need to clear the pipes.
Remember, there is no harm in asking for help when you need it. A good plumber is a professional whose expertise is a very important resource. If you do not already have a frost-free faucet installed, it may be a good investment, even if you need to hire a professional to do the installation. It can save in costly repairs in the long run.