Project Book: Installing A Frost-Free Outdoor Faucet
Do you always remember to turn off all of your outdoor faucet’s indoor shutoff valves when the weather gets cold? Unless you have this home maintenance task on your calendar, it can be quickly forgotten, and forgetting leads to serious problems. Outdoor faucets left exposed to the elements and can freeze during the cold winter months. Since water expands as it freezes, this situation can burst your pipes and cause significant water damage!
All of this points to the need for a solution, and where our frost free outdoor faucet comes in handy. This innovative plumbing item prevents water line freeze ups because it locates the faucet’s flow valve well within the heated walls of your home.
Moving that flow valve means if you need to use the outdoor faucet during colder months with some freezing temperatures you don’t have to turn the indoor shutoff valve back on. For example, if you were trying to grow some late season grass seed and needed to keep watering it, you’re set!
Even though plumbing can certainly be intimidating to work with, the fittings manufactured by SharkBite® provide the easiest and most secure way to join pipes without needing to use any solder, clamps, unions or glue. When you insert a supply pipe into a SharkBite® fitting, its stainless steel teeth bite down and grip tight, while the specially formulated O-ring compresses to create a perfect, watertight seal!
Blog Series: Installing A Frost Free Outdoor Faucet
Time: 2 hours
This blog will focus primarily on the use of SharkBite® Plumbing Fittings. If you are soldering your connections instead, there are some important safety practices to keep in mind:
- Always use lead-free solder
- Wear protective glasses when soldering
- Always use caution when using a torch near any wood. Cover any nearby wood with a piece of sheet metal or other flameproof material to prevent direct exposure to the torch’s flame.
It’s paramount to uncouple your garden hoses from your outdoor faucet before winter. If hoses remain attached, frost free faucets (whether open or close) may freeze because water can’t completely drain out of them.
STEP 1: TURN OFF THE WATER & MARK YOUR MEASUREMENT
Turn off the indoor shutoff valve that supplies water to the outdoor faucet. Drain any standing water from the pipe by turning on the existing outdoor faucet and leave it on for now. If the indoor shutoff valve has a small bleeder valve turn it until the water drains.
A frost free sillcock has a stem that is either 8″ or 12″ long. For the easiest installation, you should make sure that there is an additional 4″ to 5″ of straight pipe in between the inline shutoff valve and the wall plate with the mounted outdoor faucet. Measure back 4″ to 5″ from the rim joist inside your house and mark that spot with a permanent marker. (If your marking is close to a copper fitting like an elbow or a T, make it 2″ away from the fitting to allow enough room when you eventually push on the SharkBite® fitting).
STEP 2: MAKE YOUR CUT & MARK YOUR DEPTH
Place a bucket on the floor beneath where your permanent marker spot is on the existing copper pipe. Wherever possible, using a rotary pipe cutter is the best method. If the space you’re working in is cramped, you can use a mini hacksaw to the cut the pipe. Make SURE that the cut is square and there is no burrs or damage to the cut end. At this point, any remaining water will drain out into the bucket.
Once the cut end is square and clean, use the SharkBite® Depth Deburr Gage and a permanent marker to mark the insert depth on the outside of the tubing. This mark ensures correct assembly of the joint. Push the tubing into the SharkBite® fitting until it meets the tube stop.
STEP 3: REMOVE OUTDOOR FAUCET & MEASURE
Then measure the length of the straight pipe from the cut end to the back of the mounting bracket for the old outdoor faucet. Using this measurement, sketch out an assembly that includes the new frost free outdoor faucet (with its longer stem) and a SharkBite® straight connector with a female threaded end (which will about an inch to the total length.) This overall measurement will determine whether you need to purchase a frost free outdoor faucet with an 8″ or 12″ stem.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE PLUMBING
Wrap the male threaded end of the new frost free outdoor faucet with Teflon tape, about 4-5 revolutions. Hand tighten the female SharkBite® fitting as much as possible, then tighten it 1/2 to 1 revolution with channel lock pliers to ensure a good water-tight connection.
Helpful Hint: Remember the old plumber’s adage; tight is right, too tight is broken!
STEP 5: TEST FIT THE OUTDOOR FAUCET
If the hole in your siding is not wide enough, you’re going to need to enlarge it. If you have wood or vinyl siding, a standard drill and a 1-1/8″ boring drill bit will accomplish the task. If you have brick, you will need to use a hammer drill with a 1/2″ chuck and a 1-1/8″ masonry bit.
Dry-fit the new outdoor faucet in an upright position tight against the siding and mark the location of the fastening holes.
STEP 6: ATTACH SHARKBITE FITTING TO SUPPLY PIPE
Now it’s time to head back inside to connect your newly installed outdoor faucet to your existing supply pipe. Follow these three steps to insert the supply pipe into the fitting.
- Insert the pipe through the fitting’s release collar to rest on the grab ring.
- Push the pipe firmly with a slight twisting action until it reaches the tube stop.
- To ensure that the tube is correctly inserted, check that the depth mark that you made with the SharkBite® Depth Deburr Gage is within 0.0005″ of the end of the release collar.
One other convenient feature of SharkBite® fittings; you can rotate them after assembly without affecting the integrity of the joint!
STEP 7: TEST
Now it’s time to test your new fittings and set up. Turn on the inline shutoff valve indoors, then head outside and turn on the new outdoor faucet. Since SharkBite® fittings join plumbing supply pipes so securely, they will only leak due to one of three reasons:
- The pipe was not properly deburred before installation
- The pipe was improperly inserted
- The pipe was not squarely cut
Should this be the case and you need to disconnect the joint, you will need to use the SharkBite® disconnect clip. By applying pressure to the release collar with the clip, the grab ring teeth are splayed. This action releases the tube, allowing you to remove it from the fitting.
STEP 8: FASTEN THE FAUCET TO YOUR SIDING
If you are fastening your new outdoor faucet to lap siding, make sure that you use the plastic siding wedge included in its packaging. Slip the wedge between the faucet’s flange and the siding to form an attractive finish and a solid base for mounting.
Apply a thick bead of clear silicone around the back of the faucet flange and then press it against the wall. If you are fastening your faucet onto wood or vinyl siding, using two #8 x 1-1/4″ round head brass screws. If fastening to masonry, use 3/16″ x 1-3/4″ long Tapcon screws.
A frost-free outdoor faucet is an inexpensive solution that can save you thousands of dollars in water damage.
To get all of the advice and supplies that you’ll need to winter-proof your outdoor faucets, stop by and see us at one of our conveniently located Koopman stores. We’ll make you sure that you’ve got everything you need to get the job done right.