Over the years I have heard these hose spigots called by many different names, frost free, frost proof, and freeze-less just to name a few. The big question is however, what are they and how do they work? Most importantly, why do I need one?
Preparing for Winter
Many people are familiar with the basics of having to winterize their hose spigots in the winter time, shutting off the valve inside, draining the water out of the lines and even covering the faucet outside with some sort of insulated sock. There has to be a better way! Right?! Yes, of course there is!
On a standard hose spigot, the when you close the valve handle, the water supply is shut off AT the spigot, which is directly at the point where the valve sits against the side of the house. On a frost free hose spigot, there is a stem that is anywhere from 4”-12” long with a washer on the end of it to shut off the water supply. So, essentially the water is being shut off 4”-12” inside of the exterior of the house. The point of this is to protect the water supply from the elements and the freezing temperatures. The lines is far less likely to freeze when the water stops on the inside, in a conditioned space.
Frost Proof, Not fool proof!
Of course there is still minimal maintenance is required with the frost free spigot but far less than a standard spigot. The only thing you really have to do to winterize a frost free spigot is to disconnect the hose! When you leave the hose connected, the 4”-12” chamber is unable to empty, thus negating the benefit of the frost free spigot. When the chamber remains full, the line can then freeze and split. Disconnecting the hose is a convenient way to upkeep the frost free spigot, especially with some of the swings in weather we have here in Virginia. Many times it can be below freezing for a few days, 70 and sunny for a few days and then below freezing again! In these instances, there’s no need to constantly winterize the hose spigot, then turn it back on to water grass or wash cars, then winterize again when the temps are dropping! Having a frost free hose spigot with minimal maintenance can be a huge benefit when owning a home!