A frozen outdoor water faucet or hose bib could be your worst nightmare.
Frozen pipes are like blood clots. Very dangerous. And when they rupture your house and your wallet will suffer enormously.
I don’t regularly check my outside faucets in the winter. So if they’re leaking water I won’t know until we get our $429 water bill in the mail.
This has happened to me, not at my personal house but at a rental home. Needless to say my eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw a bill for that much.
By the end of this post you’ll be able to install a frost-free sillcock, work with SharkBite push on pipe connectors and sleep like a baby without the weight of frozen pipes on your mind. As an added bonus you won’t need to know how to solder copper pipes to do this quick project.
Here are the supplies you’ll need:
- Frost-free sillcock (they’re also called anti-siphon freeze-proof sillcocks)
- A 1 1/4 inch boring drill bit
- SharkBite female straight connector (there’s a picture below)
- Pipe cutter
- Sharpie marker
- Container to catch water (from cut copper pipe)
- Two #8 or #10 wood screws or 3/16 inch by 1 3/4 inch tapcon screws
- Hammer drill if you have brick or stucco siding
- Silicone caulk
My daughters recommend that you buy a frost-free sillcock in every size. Why? Because it’s much easier to return 3 sillcocks than it is to run to the store 3 extra times.
You can tell my daughters are speaking from experience, right? (While they might love me they don’t exactly exude enthusiasm for Lowe’s)
Installing a new frost-free sillcock or hose bib (whichever you’d like to call it) is a lot easier than you’d think. Especially since soldering has been made obsolete by SharkBite fittings. It’s less painful to do this project than it is to write an ENORMOUS check to the water company.
So let’s get started!!
Removing Your Old Outside Water Faucet: Easier than Opening Cereal Boxes
A frost-free hose sillcock or hose bib has a stem that is 6 to 12 inches long. It prevents cold weather from freezing your pipes because the stem washer & seat valve reside inside your house (where, as my daughter would like to say, it’s warm and cuddly).
As an added benefit the anti-siphon stops water or other liquids from being siphoned back into your water supply. This is only relevant if you’re maniacal (think Emperor Palpatine, the crazy guy who technically killed Darth Vader) and have a hose that is connected to your outside water faucet resting in gasoline or some other toxic chemical.
An easy installation requires about 4 to 5 inches of copper pipe between your house’s rim joist (a 2 by 8 inch wood beam) and indoor shut off valve.
Turn off the indoor shut off valve that supplies water to the outside water faucet. If the indoor shut off valve has a small bleeder valve turn it until the water drains.
If your indoor shut off valve doesn’t have a bleeder valve don’t worry, neither does mine. The water will drain out of the indoor water line when you cut the indoor copper pipe.
Leave the outdoor water faucet open to allow excess water to drain from it.
Measure back 4-5 inches from the rim joist inside your house. Make a mark with a sharpie. If your mark is close to a copper fitting, like an elbow or T, make it 2 inches away from the fitting. This will allow you to push a SharkBite fitting on to your copper pipe inside the house.
Place a container under the mark on the inside copper pipe. Use a pipe cutter to cut the indoor copper pipe at the mark and catch any water that comes out of it in the container. Debur the cut pipe with emery cloth or fine sandpaper.
Go outside and unfasten the screws that hold the old outside water faucet to the outdoor wall. If you don’t have any screws then you’re in luck. In my case I just had to pull the old unit out of the brick.
Here’s a quick video that sheds more light on this step, don’t bother with popcorn-it’s only romantic at the end (LOL).
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That wraps up the removal of your old outside water faucet or hose bib or whatever the heck you want to call the thingy that you hook up a hose to in the summer.
How to Install a Frost-Free Sillcock to Your Indoor Plumbing
Measure the distance from the back of the old hose bib’s mounting bracket to the end of the copper pipe that’s connected to it. My measurement was roughly 8 3/4 inches. But my indoor copper pipe could move easily 2 inches toward the rim joist. What I’m saying is there was a lot of play with the copper pipes which gave me wiggle room with the fitting process.
So I decided to use the 8 inch frost-free sillcock because the SharkBite fitting will add about an inch to the total length. But like I said earlier, I highly suggest you buy every sillcock length available and take them home. Here’s a link for the installation directions of the sillcock I bought at Lowe’s.
You can buy a straight SharkBite connector that has a female threaded end that will go on the end of the sillcock. Here’s a picture of the SharkBite bag that has the fitting you need for this project.
Add teflon tape, about 4-5 revolutions, on the male threaded end of the new frost-free sillcock. Hand tighten the female SharkBite fitting as much as you can then tighten it 1/2 to 1 revolution with channel locks to create a good water tight connection.
Go outside and check to see if your new frost-free sillcock will pass through the hole in your exterior siding. If it does with no problem you’re good to go.
If your hole needs to be wider and you have wood or vinyl siding use a 1 1/4 inch boring drill bit to accomplish this task.
If you have brick and your hole is too narrow you will need to visit a home store and purchase a 1 1/4 inch masonry bit. When I rushed to Lowe’s to get this bit the biggest size they had was 1 inch but it worked out just fine. You’ll also need a hammer drill with a 1/2 inch chuck.
Thank you Bosch Tools for making practically indestructible masonry drill bits. You’ve saved my butt many times 😉
Inside your house you’ll need to place a mark 3/4 of an inch in from the end of the indoor copper pipe you cut. For some reason the SharkBite female straight connector only goes on about 3/4 of an inch instead of the typical 1 inch.
Push the female SharkBite fitting onto the copper pipe until it meets up with this sharpie mark.
You’re almost done. Turn on the water and check for any leaks. I’m betting you won’t have any. But if you do, ask me how to fix them in the comment section, I’ll try my best to help.
Securing the Frost-Free Sillcock to your Home’s Exterior
If you have wood or vinyl siding this part of the project is super straight forward.
If you’re like me and have brick, this part of the project sucks just a little bit.
Turn off the water to the frost-free sillcock and disconnect it at the SharkBite fitting.
If you don’t know how to do this it’s simple, use the little orange tool (aka the disassembling clip, but I like little orange tool better). Push the tool against the SharkBite’s release collar and pull the copper pipe out with a twisting motion.
Go outside. Place marks on the wall where you need to secure the sillcock flange with screws. If you have wood or vinyl siding you can use #8 or #10 oval head wood screws. Two inch screws should be fine.
If you have brick like me you’ll need tapcon screws. I used 3/16 inch by 1 3/4 inch long screws and had to drill holes in my brick using a tapcon drill bit. You need a hammer drill for this step and don’t think a normal drill will work because it won’t.
This is what friends or neighbors are for, ask them if they have a hammer drill. If they don’t have a hammer drill chances are they have no idea what you’re doing and you’ll impress them the next time you speak to them at a party or at the bus stop.
Make sure to add the plastic flange to the back of the sillcock, it helps angle the outdoor hose bib down so that water drains correctly.
I also added some clear silicone caulk around the outside water faucet’s flange to ensure termites won’t invade my house in April (the normal time they like to party hard and house crash).
Reassemble your frost-free sillcock and test the fittings by turning on the water.
BIG TIP COMING UP. Make sure your frost proof sillcock tilts down toward the ground. This allows water to drain out of it and prevents residual water from freezing during winter months.
You didn’t do all this work just to have the new sillcock freeze and burst. So take the time to tilt it downward, add shims or stuff plumbers putty under the sillcock inside the rim joist to give it the proper slope. Here’s a quick video explaining a few of these tips.
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Here’s the finished look, sorry for the goofy coloration in the picture-it was dark by the time I finished up.
Now you know how to install a frost-free sillcock, test it for leaks, and use SharkBite fittings. Pretty awesome. In a prior post I shared how to replace a section of copper pipe using SharkBites and add a new shutoff valve. The tips I discuss could save you several hundred dollars. Hey, that’s a lot of beer money (or jewelry money, whichever works for your taste). Here’s the link if you’re interested http://www.homerepairtutor.com/using-push-fit-plumbing-pipe-connectors/
Always feel free to ask me any question you’d like in the comment section. I really enjoy helping you accomplish your home improvement goals.
Make it a great day!
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Here are some additional resources connected with installing frost free sillcocks.
This video is by my favorite plumber on YouTube who explains how to properly install a new frost free faucet. Hey, he’s been a plumber for over 32 years. So his advice is born from 11,680 days of plumbing experience. http://youtu.be/wJcSZV5_CZU
Mark Donovan from Home Additions Plus shares how to fix a leaky outdoor faucet. So if this is your problem here’s the solution in less than 4 minutes. http://youtu.be/6nO9mhJ-S24 With over 227,000 video views Mark has helped a ton of people.
And finally, if you don’t know who Emperor Palpatine is from Star Wars then watch this quick 2 minute video http://youtu.be/2yWR5jePoH8. This is also a good lesson in electrical conductivity. I actually felt bad for Darth Vader, even when I originally saw this movie at 6 years old.