Homeowner Helpers: Drain exterior faucets before freeze-up

Winter is just around the corner, which means it will soon be time to drain exterior faucets.

When water freezes, it expands, so ice in a faucet creates enormous pressure that can rupture the pipe inside the wall or other interior space. The resulting water damage can be severe.

To drain exterior faucets, start by removing, draining and storing any hoses still attached to outside faucets. This includes faucets in your garage.


Next, close the shut-off valve inside your home for the pipe or pipes going outside. That valve is most likely in the basement near where the pipe runs to the outside.

Then, open the outside faucet so it can drain. If water continues to flow, check your inside shut-off valve to ensure it’s fully closed; if water still flows, you have a defective shut-off valve and you should call a plumber to replace it.

When the faucet has drained, leave it open all winter.


Drain exterior faucets

Note: If your inside shut-off valve has a bleeder attachment like the small knob on this one, put a  bucket under the valve and open the bleeder. That will allow any water still in the outside line to drain. Once it has drained, close the bleeder.

You should follow this entire procedure to drain exterior faucets even if you have freeze-proof faucets because they may not have been installed correctly.


Originally published October 10, 2018

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