Avoiding Plumbing Disaster with Hose Bib Winter Maintenance

When you think of winter maintenance for your building, you probably think of getting your HVAC system checked, changing your air filters and insulating and protecting the water pipes inside your walls against freezing.  Unfortunately, many property managers and maintenance teams forget about hose bib winter maintenance prior to the first freeze of winter, which can lead to significant water damage if the bibs freeze and burst.

Hose Bibs

Hose bibs are the outdoor faucets where you hook up hoses, sprinklers and power washers.  They are known under several names, depending on your geographical location, including spigots and hose faucets.  They are often located along the exterior walls, and only the mouth of the faucet and handle are exposed through the building’s facade.

Winter Hose Bib Hazards

Hose bibs are extremely prone to freezing and bursting if they are not properly prepared for winter, and you don’t want to be the property manager or maintenance supervisor that forgets to winterize the hose bibs.

For example, let’s say your maintenance team is behind on their winterization tasks.  They remember to insulate all of the exposed water pipes in the basement and along the exterior walls, and they apply heat tape to the water supply pipes that are most prone to freeze.  They issue alerts to residents to let their faucets drip on during the coldest days and nights, and they deem the job finished.

Unfortunately, the team forgot to walk around the building and winterize the hose bibs by removing the hoses, shutting off the water and letting the residual water drain from the lines.  This resulted in the pipe freezing and bursting.  While frozen, the water pipe is not likely to show any signs of leaking, but the first time the hose spigot is turned on or the pipe thaws, it can start leaking uncontrollably.  If left unchecked and unnoticed, the leaking hose spigot pipe can result in thousands of dollars of water damage both inside the wall and on any floors or finished where the water is left to sit.

Hose Bib Winter Maintenance

Properly preparing your hose bib involves turning off the water at the shutoff valve, opening the spigot and leaving it open all winter to prevent burst hose bib pipes.

1. Disconnect Water Using Items from the Hose Bib

Have your maintenance team walk around your building and disconnect all the hoses, sprinklers and other water using items from all of the hose bibs prior to the first frost of the winter season.  Make sure those items are completely drained of water and properly stored to prevent damage.

2. Locate the Hose Bib Shutoff Valves

Have your maintenance team locate all of the indoor shutoff valves for the hose bibs and turn the handles to the off position.  Each hose bib may have its own shutoff valve, or the exterior spigot system may have a single shutoff valve located in a central area.

3. Open all the Spigots

Lastly, have your maintenance team take a final trip around your building and open all the hose bibs to let the water drain from the water supply lines.  If any hose bib still has a water supply, the corresponding shutoff valve will need to be replaced prior to the first freeze.

Help with Hose Bib Maintenance

If you are unsure as to how to properly shut-off and prepare your hose bibs for winter, our plumbers can help.  We can properly shut-off your hose bibs, replace any faulty shutoff values and apply heat tape or insulation where needed.  If you no longer want to worry about your hose bibs during the harsh winters, we can recommend several different types of frost-free hose bibs that automatically drain water in the end of the hose bib line.