When we experience warm weather during the winter here in Colorado (such as 65-degree days in January like we’re having right now!), many people take the opportunity to play a little golf, or even wash the cars out on the driveway. Keeping the car clean by removing salt and road grime is smart. Smarter still is to be sure to disconnect the garden hose from the hose bib (outside spigot) when you’re finished. If you don’t you could find yourself with broken pipes inside the house when things get colder. Why? Here’s the scoop:
Houses built in 4-season climates like we have here in Colorado are outfitted with frost-free hose bibs…ones that turn off the water well inside the house when you turn the shut-off knob on the exterior. This is done via a long stem on the hose bib that extended through the wall back into the heated portion of the home. So, when you turn off the water it shuts off back in side the home. Then, the remaining water in the pipe that extends beyond that shutoff point drains down and out, leaving the portion of the hose bib that’s “exposed” to weather and cold temperatures completely empty. And an empty pipe can’t be frozen and burst open by extremely cold temperatures because there’s nothing inside it to expand and crack the pipe. Makes sense, right? Here’s the rub: if you leave a hose connected to the spigot, that can prevent the extra water from draining out of the hose bib after it’s shut off. Result? When temperatures drop again, that water is trapped inside the tube that should be empty, the water freezes and expands, and crack! — the pipe pops open.
The crack usually isn’t very big…but it’s big enough to cause a huge problem the next time you use the hose. Here’s what happens: You open the valve again, and water begins to flow back into that tube from the shut-off point back inside the heated portion of the home. Most of it may continue forward and flow out the spigot and into the hose…but a portion of it will spray out of the crack in that pipe….and into the walls inside your home. And since this is usually in the basement or crawl space, you may not immediately notice the problem — until you hear a strange noise, or walk downstairs and step into a puddle where dry carpet used to be!
As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” In this case, maybe 1,000 pounds!
If you do experience a broken hose bib, we’d be gad to be of service to you. We can open up the associated walls or ceiling areas (as needed) to reach the broken hose bib, then replace the cracked pipes, and button everything back up again!