A modern frost-proof faucet has several important features including, the obvious, that it is cold-weather protected. While more expensive than a standard outdoor faucet, a frost-proof spigot will likely last much longer than standard spigots, which are prone to expanding and cracking in colder climates.
Prepare and Connect the Pipes. Clean and prepare the connecting pipe, 90-degree elbows and any exposed pipes. Slide the elbows on either end, and then connect the sillcock to the water line (Image 1). Solder all of the joints (Image 2). Open the shut-off valve, and then allow the outside sillcock enough time to flush out debris before turning. How to install a ’Ultra’ or Quarter turn frost-proof faucet 1- Drill a hole through the foundation wall or the floor joist band of 1 1/4' diameter and insert the faucet tube from the outside. 2- Position the faucet so that the faucet's spout is pointing down. To check the spout's position from the inside of the building, place the direction's.
Frost-proof faucets provide the following benefits:
- Reduce risk of pipe bursting from frozen water.
- Extend inside home far enough to escape frostline.
- Prevent backflow of contaminated water into your home water system.
- Eliminate the need to bleed off water in the line each season.
How Frost-Proof Spigots Work
Frost-proof spigots have a deep-seated, water-shutoff valve not found on old-style, standard faucets. Old-style faucets had valves that tended to freeze as they were located outside of the home. Frost-proof systems house the valve further up the pipe (ideally, inside the house wall—away from the frost). The vacuum, or anti-siphon assembly is what prevents water from your hose backing up into the line and your home water supply. So, while these are marketed as frost-proof pipes (accomplished by this additional feature), many homeowners aren’t aware of the bonus benefit (clean water), provided you buy the type with the anti-siphon assembly.
Frost-proof spigots come in a range of lengths to extend into your home. Ideally, even if you have a frost-proof spigot, you still want to install a dedicated shutoff valve inside your home. While the spigot will do its work without a shutoff, the shut-off provides one more barrier during winter, but, more importantly, makes it easier to change out the spigot should it become defective in the future. Without the shut-off valve, you’d have to turn off the entire water supply, which might send debris into your system when you turn it back on. Ideally, you always want a shut-off valve near every water supply in your home.
Even with a frost-proof spigot, you still need to take the usual safety precautions against freezing. The most important thing to remember is to disconnect your hose when the weather turns cold and allow existing water to drain from the pipe. Leaving hoses connected is the single most common cause of outdoor faucet failure.
Most new residential homes are built with these installed and some housing codes require them, but if you are building a new home, you should bring it up with the contractor. Another feature you might want, depending on your locale, is having locks installed on the spigots. If you are replacing a spigot, however, it’s definitely worth the money to install a frost-proof spigot with a vacuum assembly.
A properly-installed and maintained faucet should enjoy a long life. The biggest causes for premature failure of spigots are leaving the hose attached during winter and improper slope of the pipe in installation, which causes water backflow into the system.
How Much Do Frost-Proof Spigots Cost?
They vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Also, the longer the pipe, the higher the cost. A range would be $25-$60. You want to buy the ones with the vacuum breakers. How long you need will be determined by wall thickness. You can install these with a DIY connector kit, such as a SharkBite kit, but you might want a more permanent solution, which requires pipe brazing. Know that getting it the right length through a wall can be a bit tricky. A professional can give you installation quotes and most stock the frost-free faucets. Expect to pay between $120 and $160 per installed faucet.
The takeaway: Frost-proof outdoor faucets with vacuum breakers provide two benefits to homeowners: prevention against freezing and backflow contamination from hose backups. While more expensive than standard spigots, they’ll outperform and outlast standard sill cocks, saving you money in the long run.
Lastly, if you live on a slab or have a cold entry point, you definitely need the vacuum breaker, but you may also want to consult a professional for advice on preventing your pipes from freezing. Also, read our related article on winterizing your home.
- Tip 1: Save money on plumbing jobs by consolidating smaller jobs, thus reducing the service/travel charge.
- Tip 2: Frost-proof pipes should be installed at a slight angle for proper drainage. Your plumber should know this.
- Tip 3: Sill cock, outdoor faucet, hose bib, and hose spigot all generally refer to the same thing.
Running water from an outside tap can save time. Following these simple steps to install a frost-free water hydrant will also save you money and effort.
By Oscar H. Will III Illustration by Ray E. Watkins Jr.
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Whether you’re washing a tractor, watering a new patch of garden or filling a stock tank,getting water closer to where it’s needed is a huge help. Surprisingly, installing a new spigot, even one that’s protected from the elements, is fairly easy—especially when compared to dragging a couple hundred feet of garden hose to wherever duty calls.
The process is relatively simple and requires only a few tools and materials, including a hydrant with a standpipe sufficiently long to place the valve below the frost line; some pea rock or ½-inch screened crushed rock; some hand tools; and ideally, a backhoe fitted on your compact tractor.
The first step is to decide where you want the hydrant. Be sure to situate it where it will be convenient for a number of purposes and unlikely to get hit by a vehicle, such as a snowplow, tractor or truck. Ideally you want to place it next to the south-facing wall of a building where it can benefit the most from available sunshine. Then, too, you’ll want to protect it from large stock; so, if possible, it’s best to situate the hydrant on the outside of the pasture or corral.
Next, locate an existing water line that you can tap into. If you don’t have an outdoor line yet, you will want to tap into the cold water system inside your house or shop, and then exit the basement or crawlspace below the frost line. (Because factors such as climate, soil consistency and whether the latter has been disturbed can affect the depth of the frost line, check with local officials on how to calculate the necessary depth.)
Once you have mapped out your ideal routing for the new water line, call 811 and have your place flagged for existing utilities that may be buried in the path of your new line. If applicable, also check your septic system map for buried sewer lines. Consider carefully whether there are any other underground hazards before you begin digging.
Using a backhoe or trencher, create a trench that is safely below the frost line from the supply to the intended location of your hydrant. Dig out a pit at the hydrant end that is roughly 3 feet in diameter and about a foot deeper than the level of the trench. Fill that bottom foot with pea rock or crushed stone to act as a small French drain.
Lay out your feed line—3/4-inch-diameter PEX rated for direct bury works well and is inexpensive. Connect the line to the source with a suitable ball valve so the outdoor line can be shut off independent of the rest of your system. If the supply tap is outdoors, you may need to locate the valve and install an outdoor valve box so you can access the valve and the joint easily in the future.
Attach the hydrant end of the supply line to a check valve that will prevent any water in the hydrant from working back into the system (some hydrants have integral check valves), then attach a 90-degree elbow to the inlet on the bottom of the hydrant and tighten things up.
Go ahead and pressurize the line now to see that there are no leaks. Next, prop the hydrant upright, open it, then close it and watch to be sure that water flows from the drain hole once you shut it off. The drain, located near the bottom of the hydrant, is a crucial component for keeping the hydrant from freezing.
Once you are satisfied there are no leaks and the drain is functioning properly, go ahead and set the hydrant vertically, and backfill with enough crushed rock or pea rock to cover the drain hole by several inches. Many folks run a steel or wooden post along the hydrant to offer additional support.
Frost Free Sillcock Installation
Now it’s time to backfill the excavation; a loader and box blade or angled grader blade make short work of it. Push all the soil back onto the trench—it will be mounded initially but should settle to roughly level. Seed it and in a few months the only reminder of the earthwork will be the convenience of running water out where you need it.
Web Exclusive: Location
When placing your hydrant you want to think about traffic patterns for sure, but you also want to think about protection from the weather. If you can install the hydrant in an area that faces south and is protected from the wind, it will be much less likely to freeze.
Web Exclusive: Run That Water
If you operate the hydrant in extremely cold conditions, run several gallons more than you might actually need to sufficiently warm the stand pipe so that the water will have time to drain before freezing. It may seem counterintuitive, but 50-degree Fahrenheit water is hot compared with -20 degree Fahrenheit galvanized pipe. So, the warmer you get that pipe, the better the chance the water will drain problem free.
Web Exclusive: Remove the Hose
Frost Free Spigot Parts
Get in the habit of removing any hose that you might attach to the delivery spout on your hydrant. A length of hose will slow, and in some cases prevent, the standpipe from completely draining, and if the hydrant head and pipe freeze solid, there’s a good chance that parts will be destroyed.
Sharkbite Frost Free Sillcock Installation
Even during the warm season, it’s prudent to disconnect hoses after use to help prevent any chance of contaminating your water system. Believe it or not, if you plunk the end of the hose in the stock tank, then just shut off the hydrant when the tank is full, the hydrant, as it drains, may well siphon water from the tank into the French drain system you installed below ground. This wastes water and sets you up for a greater chance of freezing come winter.