As you feel the fall chill in the air, thoughts move toward winter and those frigid blasts that turn everything to ice. Among your steps in winterizing should be rolling up outdoor garden hoses and checking outdoor faucets. You need to make sure the faucets are frost proof and free of leaks.

Frost-proof faucets prevent water from remaining inside the pipe near the exterior wall of your home where it can freeze and split. A failed outdoor faucet can lead to a broken pipe and massive damage inside the walls of your home.

Frost-Proof Faucet Design

Frost-proof faucets are designed so the valve mechanism that seals off the water flow is located approximately twelve inches inside the house – well away from the exposed exterior portion of the faucet. In older types of faucets, a long valve stem operates a rubber washer that compresses against a valve well inside the house where it remains warm. In addition, the faucet is designed so any standing water inside the pipe drains out whenever the faucet is shut off. With no water in the pipe, it cannot
freeze, expand, and rupture.

Newer designs also have a long valve stem and self-draining feature. However, rather than a rubber compression washer, they use a valve cartridge, similar to what is used in virtually all indoor sink faucets. Most newer designs also integrate a vacuum breaker mechanism to prevent siphoning. This is now a code requirement in
most communities.

Repairing Leaking Frost-Proof Faucet

Like any mechanical device, the parts of a frost-proof faucet wear out and require maintenance and repair. A variety of routine problems can cause a frost-proof faucet to leak.

Leaks Around the Handle

Older faucets that operate with compression washers have a packing cord wrapped around the handle stem. If you see seeping around the threads of the handle mounting nut, this is the likely problem. The old packing cord needs to be replaced.

Leaking from Anti-Siphon Fitting

Leaks often come from the anti-siphon portion of the valve. If this fitting goes bad, you’ll likely need a new frost-proof faucet.

Worn Out Stem Washer or Cartridge

As with indoor faucets, the most common reason for leaking is a worn-out stem washer or cartridge. The symptom of this kind of leak is when closing the handle fails to stop the flow of water, which usually continues to drip or flow in a slow trickle. With older faucets that use a compression washer at the end of the long valve stem, the repair involves replacing the washer at the end of the stem. The faucet will need a replacement cartridge mechanism located at the end of the valve stem.

Worn Out Vacuum Cap

The vacuum cap is a simple device that consists of a diaphragm and a watertight chamber. When the water is on, water pressure forces the diaphragm down, opening the valve and allowing the water to flow. When the water is off, a spring or the lack of pressure forces it back forming a seal. When an outdoor faucet is leaking from the vacuum breaker, it’s usually because the diaphragm seal or the spring mechanism has worn out. Both can be economically replaced.

Don’t risk a failure of an outdoor faucet. Check performance and identify leaks while the outside temperature accommodates prompt attention and repairs. Save yourself the hassles of a broken pipe and massive damage to the walls and even the structure of your home.

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Flader Plumbing and Heating is uniquely suited to assist you in determining the solution that best fits your home and family’s needs. We’ve been serving your neighbors and our community for over 100-years and 4-generations.

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Whether you’re repairing a frost-proof faucet, replacing your garbage disposal, water heater, furnace or central air conditioning, adding a clean air system, or replacing your sump pump, we are knowledgeable and expert in delivering the service you need.

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