It’s October and the weather is getting colder, is it time to start winter-proofing your outside taps?
In recent years we have seen some serious issues caused by outside taps that have frozen. When these pipes freeze it can cause some serious issues for the pipes inside your property.
What are the problems a frozen outside tap can pose?
A frozen outdoor tap won’t ALWAYS be a problem, but, you can see; burst pipes, broken valves, and broken joins. You may not know this but even though a garden tap is outside the property, if it freezes, it can cause a leak inside your home.
Often, an outside tap will have a shut-off valve inside the property, and it is the water remaining in the pipe leading up to this valve that’s the problem.
Water expands when frozen, and if the frozen water has nowhere to go, it will destroy whatever’s constraining it.
For this reason, it’s very important to shut off the valve that lets water flow into the garden tap over the cold winter months. Once you’ve shut off the supply, open the garden tap to let air flow in. This air supply will ensure that any water that does remain in the tap after it’s shut off has room to expand.
What if you don’t have an isolation valve?
Of course, not all homes have an isolation valve for the outside tap; many older homes only have one valve that controls all water supply to the house.
In this situation, you’ll want to insulate your garden tap to prevent it from freezing over – as well as the surrounding pipework. We found these purpose-made tap covers which will provide protection in most cases:
- Garden tap cover from Toolstation
- Stormguard outside tap frost cover from Wickes
- Insulated tap cover from Lakeland
When you come to use the tap again in the spring take care to look for any leaks.
What about the garden hose?
It is also important that you take off your garden hose (if it’s attached to your tap) in the winter. If this freezes it can cause a big problem; so disconnect it, drain it, and put it away until spring comes. This won’t just stop your outside tap from freezing – it will protect the hose too since plastic splits when it expands.
My outside tap is already frozen, what can I do?
And if you’re a little too late, and your garden tap has already frozen over? Don’t panic: this doesn’t mean that it’s already caused a burst pipe or broken valve. Try wrapping it in a towel that’s soaked in hot water, or pour warm water over it to unfreeze it.