Hose Bibs: 14 Questions & Answers (Explained)

Everything You Need to Know About Hose Bibs

I know that you must be thinking, “What’s a hose bib?” Well, it’s the outside spigot, or faucet, that is on the side of your house. We use them all of the time for a backyard BBQ, birthday party, or to cool off on a hot summer day; but why is it necessary for your home?

Hose bibs are useful for providing water in dire times. Maintenance of a hose bib should be enacted so that it may remain functional. From it being leaky or broken, to how to fix it, to how to operate the bib is essential information for any homeowner with a spigot.

Did you know that cleaning your hose bib will make the water flow more powerfully? If not, this article is definitely for you. Your hose bib will thank you for the proper care that you give it, once you finish reading our helpful tips and tricks for having a healthy hose bib.

What Is The Standard Hose Bib Size?

The sizes can vary based on the type of home that you own, but the standard sizes of a hose bib is usually either ½ inch or ¾ inch; however, can range between ⅜ of an inch, and ½ an inch, and ⅝ of an inch for commercial buildings.

The best way to determine what size hose connector you need is to simply use a measuring tape to measure the hose nozzle in diameter, or from side-to-side of the nozzle. Word to the wise, measure the inside circular wall, not the outside; the inside is where the connector actually fits.

What Causes A Hose Bib To Leak?

There are a few reasons as to why you hose bib is leaking. The common reasons for a leaky hose bib is that the head of the hose is loosely connected to the bib. This is an easy fix: simply use your hand, or a wrench to turn it clockwise to tighten it.

Other reasons for leaks may include a broken nut or screw that should be replaced, or the adhesive for the rubber washer on the valve stem is worn down. The valve stem itself could also be a problem, considering that if they are not cleaned properly, build-up will occur and affect its functionality.

How Do You Turn Off A Hose Bib?

Find the cut off valve. The off valve is the master mechanism that allows water to flow. When it’s time to turn off your water, follow the pipes from the outside spigot, to the indoor plumbing.

Once you’ve located the valve, it’s time to turn it off. If you have two options: one if for your indoor plumbing, and the other is outside; choose the outside valve. It could be labeled, if you’re fortunate, and if not, simply follow the pipes to the correct valve.

Once determined, simply turn the handle counter-clockwise until the handle won’t turn any more, which means that the valve should be completely turned off.

How Do You Fix A Leaky Hose Bib?

Fortunately, this is a job that can become a Do-It-Yourself project. With the correct diagnosis of the leak, and the right parts to fix it, your leaky hose bib problem can be rectified in a small amount of time.

Check out these steps on how to fix your leaky hose bib:

Easiest Fix: Find the Packing, and Tighten It.

Behind the handle of each hose bib is a circular metal nut called a “packing nut” or retaining nut; once you find it, use a pair of pliers, or a wrench, to turn the nut clockwise, or to the right, to fully tighten it.

Using a broken nut can be a serious offense to your house, foundation, and plumbing, So if the packing nut is worn down and not usable anymore, then it’s time to replace it. Determine the size of your faucet, and obtain the correct packing nut for the best results.

If you have tightened your nozzle head, and changed your packing nut, but still notice that a leak is happening, the problem could be coming from the mouth of the faucet. For this, you’ll have to disassemble and remove the valve.

  • First, find the appropriate shut-off valve for the faucet. Once located, turn it counter-clockwise until the water has completely stopped flowing.
  • When you make it back outside, turn on your hose to drain the remaining amount of water that is still in it.
  • Once all of the water is drained from the hose, detach it from the nozzle.
  • Then, while holding the faucet with a firm grip, use your pliers or wrench to loosen the packing nut by turning it clockwise until it easily spins off of the faucet.
  • Remove the valve stem (the long metal rod). In the back of it, you will see a rubber washer. This could be the cause of your leaky faucet.

Replace the washer by simply removing the screw that hold it in, place a new washer in, and put the screw back into its hole to secure your new washer. If you have two washers on your valve, follow the instructions just the same.

  • Afterwards, place the valve stem back inside of the faucet. Then, apply the packing nut back to the head in order to fully reassemble your hose bib.
  • Once reassembled, you may turn on your supply valve. Job complete!

Can You Leave A Hose Outside In The Winter?

It’s not the best idea to leave your hose outside during the winter. Because of the material that the hose is made of, especially the metal, the hose will become susceptible to the physical and water damage.

In addition, the water itself could freeze inside of the hose, which will certainly disrupt the flow of your water when it comes time to use it. The water could expand, and stretch out the water hose too, causing many small rips and tears for water to escape.

Now, there are solutions to this issue if you so choose to keep your hose outside: “winterize” it! This is basically prepping your hose with the necessary tools and maintenance to ensure functional use for the spring. A frost-free hose bib is a great option for winter hose maintenance.

What Is A Frost-Free Hose Bib?

A frost-free hose bib is an outdoor faucet apparatus that minimizes the chances of water freezing inside of the hose.

It tends to look the same on the outside, but is usually longer than your traditional bib, about 4 to 12 inches, and the cut-off valve is set up in a warm area of your house so that the water stays warm, with minimal chance of freezing; thus, frost-free!

A solid difference between frost-free bibs and traditional bibs is that a frost-free bib is placed at a downward angle, to ensure that all of the water drips of the spigot before it freezes inside of it.

A frost-free hose bib works so well because the water stops behind valve once it’s shut off. Therefore, all of the water is still warm inside of the plumping tank; thus, no freezing. Also, because of the downward angle of the bib, gravity will push the remaining water from the inside of the hose to the outside of the faucet.

Do I Need A Frost-Free Hose Bib?

It all depends on your geographical location and temperature rate. Frost-free hose bib is used to stop water at the back of the valve, before it even goes through the pipe. That benefit keeps the water that’s inside of the pipe warm, which keeps the integrity of the plumbing system intact.

If you live in an area where it tends to get pretty cold during the winter, then a frost-free hose bib is definitely the product you want for your hose.

Without it, once the temperature reaches freezing point – 0 degrees celsius or 32 degrees fahrenheit – the water inside of your pipes will freeze, and cause the faucet to split into small, negatively impactful cracks.

But what if you live in a warmer climate where the sun shines most of the year? If this is the case, a frost-free hose bib is your choice. You can choose to not have one, which is perfectly safe for warmer climates, or you can choose to add it onto your faucet as a safety precaution.

Can A Frost-Free Hose Bib Freeze?

This is the shorthand of this type of hose bib. Contrary to popular belief, yes, frost-free hose bibs can freeze! Although the point of the frost-free point is to keep the pipe(s) and/or faucet from freezing, it is not one hundred percent that it will freeze every drop.

So how does a frost-free hose freeze if it not supposed to? Well, the same mechanism that makes it so great, is also its downfall. Frost-free hose bib’s job is to keep as much water inside, and to stop the water from leaving, and freezing on the outside.

And this is where the problem occurs; yes, the water will not pass the valve, but it will reside inside of it. The water that is remaining before the valve opening is what freezes. This can cause serious bulges and splits near the threading of the hose bib.

The best way to keep your frost-free hose bib from freezing is to prepare it for the frigid winter months through a process accurately called “Winterizing,” and here’s how you do it:

  • Locate the origin of your water flow (wherever your water tank is.) There, you will find the valve shutoff switch; turn it off.
  • Go outside and open the faucet to drain out any and all remaining water.
    • You may find a petcock (small valve switch) on the side of the inside cease valve; open it and let the rest of the water flow out of it.

The process is necessary, and will save you money during the cold and warm seasons.

How Do You Fix A Leaky Frost-Free Hose Bib?

There are three reasons as to why your frost-free hose bib is leaking:

  • Loose retaining nut
  • Faulty faucet stem washer assembly
  • The vacuum breaker

Thankfully, these aren’t hard problems to fix. You’ll need these materials for the job:

  • Slip joint pliers
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Replacement parts (vacuum, washer, or retaining nut)
  • Washer assembly

Ok, now for the easy part.

Here’s how you fix a leaky frost-free hose bib:

Check Your Retaining Nut

Use an adjustable wrench to tighten the retaining nut. If that doesn’t stop your leak, turn off the water supply and fully remove the nut.

Remove the Faucet Stem

This is the long metal rod inside of the faucet. If the grip on the faucet head is too strong, use the wrench to loosen it.

Replace Your Washer Assembly

Unscrew the nail, and take apart the dark washers. Once found and removed, simply replace it with the new one.

Remove the Vacuum Breaker Cap

Unscrew or pop off the dark cap on top of the faucet – that’s the vacuum breaker.- Pull it out, clean it, and reinstall. If the bib still isn’t working properly, purchase a new vacuum breaker at your local hardware store.

To make things a bit smoother for you, check out these tricks that will speed up the repair process:

  • Check the stem packing if the water is leaking around the faucet head where the water comes out; try tightening the retaining nut behind the faucet handle.
  • Check your washer if the water is leaking out of the spout. The washer responsible is located in the back of the valve stem. If it’s worn down, simply replace it with a new one.

What Is A Hose Bib Vacuum Breaker?

Simply put, a vacuum breaker is the mechanism that screws onto the spigot mouth, and prevents water that has been released back into the plumbing system by using a spring-loaded check valve.

The major purpose of this apparatus is to keep the water in your plumbing system from being contaminated with outside bacteria.

The vacuum breaker successfully does its job by prevent backflow and back-siphoning from happening. If the pressure is too high, or too low, the released water will seep back into the water container, which will render your potable water dirty and useless.

Fun Fact! Did you know that state and federal laws require vacuum breakers be installed? Apparatuses such as outside spigots, dishwashing machines, mop-sink faucets, and dish sink sprayers use a vacuum breaker.

How Do You Remove A Vacuum Breaker From A Hose Bib?

It may seem complex, but it’s fairly simple. First, here’s a list of materials that you’ll need:

  • Thread lubricant
  • Adjustable pliers

Now, here’s a step-by-step guide for removing your vacuum breaker:

  1. Turn off the faucet that you are going to repair.
  2. Unscrew the head of the hose; if your hand grip isn’t strong enough, use the adjustable pliers.
  3. Remove the vacuum breaker by turning it counter-clockwise. Use the adjustable pliers to turn it if it’s too hard.
    • If it doesn’t come off at all, apply the thread lubricant into the thread, wait 5 minutes, then twist at it again. That’s it!
  4. To replace your vacuum breaker, simply screw on the new breaker in the same place as the old one. Make sure that the washer is tightly against the faucet spout.

Once it’s all complete, you may screw your hose back in, and turn your water system back on. If you are still experiencing difficulties with it, contact your local handyman or plumber to receive professional assistance.

Why Do You Need A Vacuum Breaker On a Hose Bib?

Hose bib vacuum breakers operate by venting water and excess moisture into the air when there is a significant amount of backflow.

The purpose of a vacuum breaker is to keep running water from returning to the water source. The vacuum breaker acts as a filtered separator that allows water to flow out of the vessel, but not flow back in – that’s called back-siphonage.

And back-siphonage is not a good thing. Flowed water can pick up microorganisms that are living in the pipes themselves. If the water flowed back into the source, it will surely contaminate every drop of your potable water.

What Is A Hose Bib Extender?

It’s like the faucet away from the faucet. A hose bib extender is outdoor water faucet that can be conveniently placed anywhere in your yard. The bib is connected to a metal, or designed, stand, and adds a certain form of class to the element of your landscape.

The great part about a hose bib extender is the convenience of it. It has the capability to bring water out further into your yard or garden due to the fact that the post can be positioned anywhere. It’s typically made of durable steel; it stands between 2 and 4 feet high, and only weighs between 3 and 6 pounds.

How Do You Extend A Water Hose?

You’ll need some tools and materials to successfully extend your water hose:

  • Extra water hose
  • Connector
  • Plumber’s tape

Your water hose may be extended by using a joiner, or connector, which is the MVPiece of equipment that’s necessary for the extension. Ok, here we, let’s extend a water hose:

  • Determine the length of your extension. Measure from the hose bib to the areas that you plan to water the most.
  • Measure the length of your hose; use it to determine how many more hoses and connectors you’ll need to satisfy your desire stretch.
  • Obtain a hose connector, and connect it to the head of the hose. Choose a standard hose connector if your watering areas are straight ahead, or a goose-neck connector, which is shaped with a pivot and resembles the letter “L”, if the areas are around a corner of your house.
  • Attach another hose to the open end of the connector. Use your hands to firmly grip the connection secure.

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