What is a hose bib?

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replaced hose bib exterior of home

A hose bib is essentially a faucet on the outside of your home that taps into the main water line. Instead of splitting off to go to the kitchen, the bathroom, laundry room, and other interior areas that need water, a line will lead to an exterior wall. A simple faucet is affixed to the side of the home where you attach a garden hose for outdoor water.

Without a hose bib, washing your car, pressure washing the patio, or hooking up a sprinkler for the kids to run through during the summer becomes that much more difficult. While there are options for watering a garden (rain barrels or cisterns for example), hose bibs make it much easier.

How a Hose Bib Works

Whether you call it a hose bib, hose bibb, an outdoor spigot or faucet, or the thing that you hook the hose to, the contraption is a relatively simple fixture. If you look under the kitchen or bathroom sink, you’ll see two little knobs that are attached to the wall with a hose leading to the sink fixture. That’s basically what a hose bib is for the outside.

But instead of hooking up to a flexible pipe to the sink, it hooks up to a garden hose, pressure washer, soaker hose, and so forth. The pipe comes from inside the house and meets the hose bib. There’s a little valve in the fixture that is opened or closed to let the water flow through the hose. Pretty simple!

Hose Bib Maintenance

Hose Bib - outdoor plumbing installation and repairIn warmer seasons, there really isn’t much maintenance to worry about. If you notice water leaking at the hose, you may need to get a hose washer to create a tighter seal between the two. If you see water leaking between the faucet and the handle or valve leaks in the closed position, you may need to replace the fixture.

And that’s about it during the time of year when temperatures aren’t approaching 32 degrees. If you do need a new outdoor faucet, we recommend using a professional contractor like Simpson Plumbing. This requires shutting off water to the house so you can remove and then replace the hose bib and you want to make sure it’s done right.

Hose Bibs and Freezing Temperatures

One of the reasons the faucet may leak at the handle is freezing water. As it freezes, water expands, which puts pressure on the fixture. After a few freeze, melt, freeze cycles, things can get pretty loose in the fittings both on the exterior of the home and a few inches of the interior, either in the crawlspace or basement.

It’s hard to know if there is damage in the crawlspace of course, so if you see your water bills skyrocket during cold weather and aren’t sure why, our team at Simpson Plumbing would be happy to inspect the situation for you. Nobody likes to spend hundreds of extra dollars if they don’t have to.

There are a few steps you can take to help prevent freezing during the winter months. Home improvement stores sell covers for the very purpose of winterizing your hose bib. By providing just enough protection from the freezing temps, a frost-free hose bib could prevent costly repairs.

If you have access to the shutoff valves for the hose bibs (similar to the shutoff valves you see under the sink), turn those off for the duration of the winter. After all, you probably won’t be watering the garden when it’s 25 degrees outside. This will help keep frozen pipes at bay.

Keep the faucet in the open position to let water drain out or allow room for the expanding and contracting of any water stuck in the system. This will keep your pipes from bursting on the interior of the home. Repairing a hose bib is one thing, cleaning up water damage in a finished basement is something else entirely.

At Simpson Plumbing, we want to help you take care of your home and prevent plumbing disasters. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about your hose bib and need our services.

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