Winterizing Your Home series: How to Prevent Outside Pipes from Bursting

The outside faucet is referred to as a “sill cock” or “hose-bib” by plumbers, but you and I know it as the spigot out back. When winter arrives, you want to be mindful of protecting your outside pipes from freezing and eventually bursting. This could lead to major property damage, and you can prevent this with a few simple techniques.

Let me explain how disaster happens with frozen pipes. When water freezes inside the pipe, it expands and can produce thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch. That pressure is what makes the pipes burst, leading to water damage in exterior walls and unheated crawlspaces.

Frost-proof Sill Cock

You can invest in a frost-proof sill cock. It’s like a remote control for your faucet handle, controlling the water supply faucet valve inside the home. This allows water to flow to the exterior faucet spout. The faucet head is attached to a long tube around 6” to 20” long. There’s a disc/compression or cartridge faucet valve inside the tube before the connector fitting. The faucet valve and water supply pipe are always kept remote from the cold faucet head. In average sill cocks, the head of the exterior faucet on the outside is close.

So the advantage of a frost-proof sill cock is that freezing cold is kept away from any water supply line feeding the exterior faucet. Some even come with an anti-siphon valve to prevent unsafe water from entering the supply.

Remove Garden Hose

This sounds like a no-brainer, but a lot of people are unaware of the freezing danger associated with leaving a garden hose hooked to the exterior faucet year-round.

Shut-off Valves

Try to find the shut-off valve inside your home for the outside faucet. The sill cock itself only turns the water on and off outside. That’s why you need to find the water shut-off valve inside your home for the outside faucet (sill cock). To find this, you may have to follow the water supply lines or ask a plumber to show you.

Leave the Faucet to Drip

Leaving the faucet that is fed by exposed pipes to drip during deep freezes is helpful in preventing pipe burst. If the sound of a dripping faucet drives you crazy, simply tie a string around the faucet end and let the water stream down the string into the sink basin. The dripping sound diminishes.


This product is an added measure to securing your pipes against bursting, but it will not prevent them from freezing. It’s not a heating agent, but it comes in handy when your pipes do freeze. Should your pipes freeze, Ice-Loc absorbs the pressure caused by frozen water. This silicone elastomer is approved by the FDA and runs at least $75 for 25 feet. The more you need, the more expensive it is. You can order your supply at , e-mail , or call 1-888-ICE-0911.

IP Thermostat

An IP-enabled thermostat can be expensive around $200, but there are some affordable ones such as the 3M-50 Wi-fi Thermostat at Home Depot for $99. It offers useful features such as local programmability, wi-fi, PC App and iPhone App for controlling directly.