Many of us have outdoor faucets for lawn watering and other backyard activities. But these
faucets are vulnerable to cold outdoor temperatures in the winter, which can often cause real problems in the winter if they were to freeze over…
When water freezes in outdoor pipes, it expands, which can cause the pipes to crack and even burst.
And to prevent such a catastrophe, you can purchase outdoor faucet covers, made from styrofoam-like material.
And it sure sounds like a super simple and easy solution. But just how effective is it in practice? And which type is best? How do you use them? Is there a DIY solution?
These are the very questions that this article is going to answer. Please feel free to scroll ahead to any section that jumps out at you. Here goes!
Most faucet and spigot covers are straightforward objects, designed to trap warm air around faucets and spigots so that these weak spots in the plumbing, that are subject to cold outdoor temperatures, have a layer of protection.
And, I am pleased to confirm that, as a general rule, outdoor faucet covers do pretty much do what they’re meant to do. They prevent pipes and faucets from freezing during those cold winter months.
However, they aren’t always ideal. They do seem to work quite well at freezing temperatures, however, once the temperature dips a few degrees below this point, it just isn’t as effective as you’d want it to be.
So, what does this mean in practice? If you’re based somewhere where you don’t get harsh winters, this won’t be a problem.
And if not, your outdoor plumbing may have been built with this in mind, and your outdoor spigot may have a frost-proof design. Or you may even have a sillcock valve (more on this shortly).
And in this instance, an outdoor faucet cover could give you just the advantage you need.
It’s also worth noting that outdoor faucet covers have several benefits beyond preventing your pipes from freezing over…
For example, if you have young kids, the cover will prevent them from turning the faucet and soaking everything in its midst, including your outdoor cooking area. Not to mention preventing water fights and scary water bills.
And if you do get kids turning the faucet on and off sometimes, then putting a faucet cover in place will prevent water freezing in your garden hose.
Other benefits include preventing bugs from buzzing around the faucet, keeping them at bay. And they can even prevent nasty drafts from sneaking into your cozy home.
Outdoor faucet covers come in two main forms. One is a kind of insulated bag, frequently referred to as a faucet sock.
The other is a more rigid cover which is composed of thermal foam and features a flexible ring but provides a watertight fit.
And to be perfectly honest, they perform equally well. What’s more, both types are very inexpensive, and are a breeze to install.
They both offer a snug fit, sealing warm air around the faucet, thus insulating it from freezing temperatures.
But they do have differences. The soft, sock-like one is the easiest to put in place, since it can be simply slipped on.
And the rigid variety typically comes complete with an additional plastic case, which provides an extra level of protection.
Luckily, both types of faucet cover are readily available online in stores like Amazon. You can find a wide selection to choose from on this link. They often come as a multipack.
Obviously, you should put the cover on at some point between when you no longer need your garden hose, and before the first frost creeps in.
But the really important thing to do here is to put the cover on before the temperature goes below freezing, because otherwise you might be too late.
So, with this in mind, we recommend that you remember to add it to your list of yard jobs during the autumn months before winter hits, once you’ve washed down all your outdoor cooking area, patio furniture, washed your car, decking and driveway, cleaned your windows.
That way, you know you’ll no longer need to get your hose out again until spring time.
I 100% recommend making it a firm part of your winterizing ritual. And even if you don’t usually get temperatures below freezing in your area, you shouldn’t be complacent, especially if your plumbing is not designed with colder climates in mind.
When spring hits, and the risk of frost has gone, you can safely remove the faucet covers, and stow them away again until needed.
If you take care of your faucet covers, cleaning them, drying them etcetera, then you should last you a good few years - they have an excellent lifespan.
You’ll be pleased to hear that using your outdoor faucet cover is pretty straightforward.
All you need is the covers themselves, and a very basic understanding of your outdoor plumbing system. Here are the steps you should follow:
To be honest, we would recommend buying a commercial one over making one of your own, purely because they are very cheap, very easy to get hold of, and they’ll last you for several years.
The risk you face with DIY faucet covers, is that the material could seal water inside, thus making the freezing issue worse rather than better.
But in the event that a forecast predicts frost for the following day, and you need to put a solution together quickly, you could check out this short YouTube video from Dave’s Homestead, which explains how to make your very own outdoor faucet cover, in the event that you don’t have time to buy one or have one delivered.
All you really need for this is a stockpile of thin plastic grocery store bags. You just wrap them around the faucet and secure them in place by wrapping duct tape around them.
It works well because you can trap several layers of warm air with each bag that you attach, making multiple layers of insulation.
Admittedly, it’s not a particularly attractive solution, and it’s nowhere near as effective as a dedicated, specially designed outdoor faucet cover.
Both the sock ones and the rigid Styrofoam varieties do a much better job of preventing your pipes from freezing.
Dave himself says that you should only use this DIY solution in an absolute emergency, and as a temporary measure only, while you order a commercial outdoor faucet cover and wait for it to arrive.
And even if your faucet is meant to be “freeze-proof” we would still recommend investing a couple of bucks in a commercial faucet cover.
The benefits in the cold winter months are tangible.
So, you are now thoroughly informed and knowledgeable on the subject of outdoor faucet covers.
And just to reiterate the points made earlier, I want to take this opportunity to say how much I recommend that you invest a few bucks in a commercial outdoor faucet cover for all your outdoor faucets.
The last thing you want is for all your pipes to freeze. I’ve heard one story where it happened to one couple, and they couldn’t get their pipes to work properly for a whole month or so afterward.
So the issue is real, but is very easily solved. I also recommend investing in an outdoor thermometer for your backyard, so you can keep track of outside temperatures in winter, and be prepared to put your faucet cover in place before a frost creeps in.
Sure, you can make a makeshift cover yourself, but this is no substitute whatsoever for a good commercial outdoor faucet cover.
They do work, and they’re the best solution out there, regardless of whether you decide to go for one of the sock-like versions, or the more rigid Styrofoam ones. And they’re easy to install to boot.
And it’s also worth investing in tubing insulation as well if you can find it.
Please add covering your outdoor faucet to your winterizing regime, and you won’t be sorry.
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