Beat the Chill: What to Do if Outdoor Spigot is Frozen

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Water spigot outdoor in the snow in winter

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During the winter months, it’s common for the water in your faucet to freeze. This can be a major inconvenience and might cause damage to your pipes.

So, what should you do if your outdoor spigot is frozen?

As a general rule, start by turning on the tap. Then, apply some heat to the pipe. This can be done by; applying warm water, using a hair dryer, or wrapping the faucet in heat tape. It will often be around 15 minutes before the water starts flowing freely. 

If your faucet is frozen, you can do a few things to help it thaw out. Before long, the water will be flowing freely again.

Keep reading to learn some methods you can use to solve a frozen spigot. 

Water spigot outdoor in the snow in winter

What Steps to Take to Fix A Frozen Outdoor Faucet? 

If your spigot has frozen, there are a few things you can do to help it thaw out, these include: 

  • Turn on the water. This ensures that the water will be flowing out of the faucet as the pipes cool. At first, you might only see a small dribble of water, this is normal. 
  • Using warm water to heat the pipes. The next thing to do is add a little heat to the pipes. Before pouring warm water over it, wrap the spigot in old rags. You don’t want to apply the water directly to the metal faucet.  The sudden heat might cause the pipe to burst. Furthermore, you need to ensure you are applying the heat evenly. 
  • Using a hairdryer to warm the pipes. If you don’t want to use hot water, you might want to use a hair dryer to blow hot air onto the pipe. If you are taking this approach, it’s best to exercise a little caution. Make sure to keep the electronics away from the water. 
  • Wrapping the faucet in heat tape. Heat tape should be available from your local hardware store. Once you have some, you can wrap it around the pipe. Just remember to remove the tape once you have finished. If left on, it can cause heat damage and increase fire risk. 
  • Leave the spigot on until the water is flowing freely. Over time, you will notice that the trickle of water starts to turn into a steady stream. This is a sign that the faucet has thawed out. Until this occurs, keep focusing on warming the pipe. 

It might take a few minutes for these methods to start to produce results. But you should be able to feel the metal spigot growing warmer and watch the water flowing more freely.

This is a sign that your approach is working. 

In most cases, it will take about 30 minutes for the pipe to unfreeze.  Though, depending on the weather, it might take a little longer. 

Will A Frozen Faucet Thaw on Its Own?

If left on its own, a frozen faucet will eventually thaw out. Though this will often require the warmer spring months to roll around. This can take several weeks. 

But if you see a frozen faucet, it’s recommended that you act on it quickly.

Sometimes, if a pipe is left frozen for too long, the water expansion can cause it to burst. If this happens, it can cause a lot of damage. 

How To Tell If A Faucet Has Burst?

There are a few signs that your faucet might have burst. Here are some of the things that you should be looking for: 

  • Changes to the water pressure. You might find that there isn’t a lack of pressure coming from your pipes. This might impact other parts of the system. For example, you might find that the pressure in your shower has gone down. 
  • Damp marks. If the pipe is leaking water, you might see damp marks or mold appearing on the walls. This can be helpful, helping pinpoint the location of the leak. Sometimes, you might even see a puddle of water. 
  • Sinkholes. Sometimes, a burst in the main water line can cause a puddle in your yard. Over time, this can lead to a sinkhole. 
  • Discolored water. The water that is coming out of your indoor faucets might become discolored. It can start to appear brown, which can indicate that you have rust within your pipes. 
  • Increased water bills. One of the most obvious signs that something is wrong is an increase in your water bills, even though your usage hasn’t increased. 

If you have noticed one of these problems, you should immediately disconnect the water supply.

The next thing to do is call a qualified plumber.

They will be able to investigate the pipes, determine the extent of the damage, and will help you fix the problem. 

How To Prevent an Outdoor Faucet From Freezing? 

The good news is that you don’t need to wait for your outdoor faucet to freeze.

Here are some of the preventative steps you can take: 

  • Turning off the water. If possible, you should turn off the valve and stop the flow of water to the faucet. Make sure to leave your tap on after you shut off the valve, to flush any water that remains in the line. If you can’t find the shutoff valve, there are a few other options you can explore
  • Using an outdoor faucet cover. This should be available at your local hardware store. It will slide over the faucet and keep it warm enough to stop it from freezing. 
  • Keep a small amount of water flowing through the pipe. This will only require a trickle, but it should stop the pipe from freezing. 
  • Using a frost-proof faucet. If you live in a cold part of the country, this can be a good investment. You will need to remove your current faucet head and thread in the new one. You should be able to do this yourself. Though, if you prefer, you can call in a plumber. 

Can Frozen Outdoor Spigots Affect Patio Construction and Laying in the Rain?

Yes, frozen outdoor spigots can definitely affect patio construction in rain. If the spigots freeze, it can lead to water leaks and damage to the patio foundation. It’s crucial to ensure that outdoor spigots are properly insulated and protected to avoid any issues during patio construction in rain.

Final Thoughts

Finding an outside faucet frozen can be a frustratingly common sight during the winter months.

The good news is that there are some simple ways to thaw the pipe and get the water flowing freely again.

Though it only takes a few minutes, thawing your pipes will save you a lot of hassle and difficulty in the future.