Prep Your Pipes For Freezing Weather
Drain your outside faucets to prevent burst pipes in the spring
Nighttime temperatures will start regularly dropping below 32 degrees so now is the time to prepare your outside water faucets so they don't freeze and cause a basement flood.
There are two types of outside faucets, old-style drain-back models and frost-proof models. Both types need to be drained before cold weather sets in.
Drain-back faucets are found on most homes built before the early 1990's. The valve seat that controls the water flow is right under the handle and water fills the pipe right to the valve. When temperatures drop the water can freeze, split the pipe and then when temps warm up a little, the water begins to leak inside your basement. To avoid a mess you need to turn the water supply off and drain the pipe from inside the house.
First, locate the water pipe in the basement leading to each outdoor faucet. There will be a shutoff valve usually within 2 ft. to 3 ft. in from each faucet. Turn the valve off, then go back outside and open up the faucet. A little water will dribble out. Leave the valve open and go back to the shut-off in the basement. Hold a small bucket under the shut-off valve, then remove the small drain cap on the side – you may need a pair of pliers to turn it. Water should stream out for a about a minute.
If no water comes out, check to see that the hole is opened. It may be clogged and need to be cleaned out; a paper clip wire works good to poke out any blockage. After the water stops draining, replace the cap. Leave the faucet opened outside so if any water remains in the pipe it can drain out and be less likely to burst the pipe if it does freeze. And don't reconnect a hose to the faucet until temperatures warm in the spring.
Frost-proof faucets are only truly frost-proof if you prepare them. Frost-proof faucets resist freezing temperatures by their design; the valve seat that controls the water flow is not directly beneath the handle but rather many inches down the valve tube inside the warm part of the basement. It is imperative that you remove any attached hose from the faucet and any Y valves that split the water flow to two or more hoses A hose or Y valve will prevent water from draining out of the valve tube so when it gets cold out, the water can freeze and split the pipe. With the hose removed, turn on the water to make sure it flows freely and then close it. No other prep needs to be done – other than leaving the hose off until spring.