Frost-Proof Silcocks / Hose Bibs

If you’re living in a colder climate like we do in Chicago, your outdoor faucet—which you might call a spigot, silcock, or hose bib—really takes a beating. When these spigots freeze, they can cause your pipes to leak inside your home, leading to damage. Thankfully, you can avoid this headache by installing a frost-proof spigot and making sure it’s properly insulated. Choosing the right spigot and insulating it well can keep those leaks and frozen faucets at bay.

What Is a Frost-Free Spigot?

Here in Chicago, we rely on frost-free spigots to reduce the chances of water freezing and splitting the pipe or valve. These nifty devices use a compression-style faucet with a long pipe that extends back into the warmer parts of the house. However, they can still freeze if the temperature inside the house—or near the spigot—drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite this, a frost-free spigot is still much more likely to make it through a Chicago winter unscathed compared to a conventional spigot. Plus, these spigots are designed to drain themselves, preventing water from collecting and freezing in the faucet later. When you turn off a frost-free spigot, the water actually stops well behind the valve, inside the house where it’s warmer. This way, the air behind the valve also stays warm, helping to prevent freezing.

The Supply Line

With a frost-proof outdoor faucet, the fixture is connected to an extra-long supply pipe that extends well into your home. At the very least, this pipe should be about 4 inches long, but it’s typically longer to ensure it reaches far enough inside to keep the water temperature above freezing. Additionally, this pipe is designed with a downward slope to help drain any excess water from the fixture, preventing it from sitting stagnant in the pipe and freezing.

Shut-Off Valve – A Must In Chicago

At the other end of the supply pipe, there should be a shut-off valve inside the home, even though outdoor spigots also have their own valves to control water flow. It’s essential to have this separate indoor shut-off valve. These valves typically turn clockwise to close and counter-clockwise to open. If your shut-off valve has a handle, it works in a similar way. Having a shut-off valve inside the home is another great way to keep the water in the pipes warm and protected from the outside cold.

Anti-Siphon Valve

A frost-proof spigot often comes with an anti-siphon device, also known as a vacuum breaker. This device helps prevent contaminated water from flowing back into the pipe and entering your water supply. They’re usually pre-installed on the faucet itself and are one of the best ways to prevent hose water from backflowing into your water system.

Water Leaking On Basement Wall?

Winter has finally passed, and with spring here and summer just around the corner, you decide to go outside and water the garden. But when you return inside, you discover a leak on your basement wall with water pouring into your home. What most likely happened is that the hose bib pipe split due to freezing temperatures. You wouldn’t have noticed it until you turned on the spigot and the water reached the split in the pipe.

How To Stop Your Spigot From Freezing

The best way to prevent your silcock from freezing is to make sure it’s installed correctly from the start by a licensed plumbing professional. Proper soldering of fittings, adding a shut-off valve, and ensuring the hose bib is well-insulated are key steps to keep your outdoor faucet from freezing. Additionally, when cold weather approaches, make sure to disconnect your hose from the spigot. Leaving your hose connected over the winter almost guarantees that your hose bib will freeze.

Get Help From the Experts Today

Frost-proof spigots provide easy access to water on the exterior of your home. Green Tech Plumbing Co. of Des Plaines IL offers hose bib installation and repairs. Based in Des Plaines, IL we serve the northwestern suburbs of Chicago and the northwest side of Chicago itself. Call us for a free estimate at 847-518-5338 to get started on your project.