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)
- Bosch 1 1/4 inch boring drill bit
- SharkBite female straight connector (there’s a picture below)
- AutoCut 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
- These Amazon affiliate links help keep the lights on at HRT headquarters…so thank 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.
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.
Let’s dive in.
Removing the Old Outside Water Faucet
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.
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 an 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.
Cutting Out the Old Valve
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 onto 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).
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
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.
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
If you have wood or vinyl siding this part of the project is super straightforward.
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 the 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 masonry 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 the 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.
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 for leaks, and use SharkBite fittings.
In a prior post, I shared how to replace a section of copper pipe using SharkBites and PEX.
The tips could save you several hundred dollars.
If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.
Thank you very much for sharing these videos. It’s important that people know how to take care of their homes and piping around it.
People need to be helped a little so things will not go wrong. Thanks again!
You’re very welcome Alicia.
Now days, with all the new products (like SharkBites), it’s easier than every for us homeowners to properly fix and maintain pluming.
I can’t tell you how many times I thought I couldn’t possibly fix something only to realize there was a product that even I could understand. Not to mention a person who took the time to explain how to correctly use the product.
So this tutorial on frost-free sillcocks or hose bibs is kinda my pay it forward (that is, help others because I’ve been helped by awesome people in the past).
Do you happen to have a picture of the finished install of the frost free sillcock on the inside of
your home? As I mentioned in another comment, I need to do this exact project and am interested what the finished product inside looks like and how it looks connected.
nevermind… I see it at the end of the video! Thanks!
Chris, if you have any more questions just let me know 🙂
Hope your project goes smoothly.
Replaced my sillcock in about an hour after reading your post. Thanks for introducing me to sharkbite fittings… they’re a lifesaver!
Glad to help Ryan 🙂
Jeff, I just installed a replacement hose bib with a SharkBite fitting, but haven’t secured the new bib to the house. There are no leaks, but the bib can turn in the joint at the SharkBite connection. Is that normal?
Hey Tom, it’s normal for the SharkBite fitting to rotate freely around the pipe. As long as the fitting is secured to the copper pipe according to the directions you should be good to go.
After reading this instructional, I was puzzled by the necessity of tilting the water line, so water could “drain” off, which I’m not sure how it could if the spigot is turned off outside anyway. It was my understanding that the whole purpose of the frost free faucet is to allow the water to be left on without it freezing. After some more research, I found this link at This Old House, which explains that the actual shutoff mechanism is inside the housing that extends into the basement, hence the protection from freezing. (http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20053912,00.html) Is there something that they’re missing that warrants the tilting of the water line? Regards.
Thanks for your question. You’re correct in that the shut off mechanism is inside your house. And therefore the ambient temperature of your home will hopefully prevent the water in the shut off valve from freezing.
With that said, if the shut off valve was tilted up then the water would have a chance to pool from inside to outside your home (within the shutoff). And when water freezes it expands. Thus, you want to allow the water to drain to avoid any likelihood it will cause a pipe to burst. In the case of this tutorial, my frost-free sillcock went from inside the house, passed through the rim joist, then passed through the brick to the exterior.
Unfortunately, we get really cold winters sometimes here in Pittsburgh. So any water that would collect between the rim joist and exterior would totally freeze if temps got to 10F.
So tilting the sillcock just makes me feel a lot better about the entire situation. Hope this explains my line of reasoning 🙂
Brian, If you leave the water spigot on with a hose connected, you negate any benefit you would gain from the “frost free” valve, since the water will now be present in the sill cock and will freeze if the temp drops. The frost free valve works by cutting off the water within you home well away from the exterior. When you leave the hose on with the valve open, you now have water in that portion that should be drained in order to protect from freezing.
Thanks so much for the super informative “how to ” guide. I had a leaky faucet snap off at the 7″ nipple/cpvc coupler inside an exterior 2×8 wall on Labor Day! Luckily I had the main turned off.
Hilarity ensued! NOT!
Being on slab I cut the sheet rock out (8″ square) inside to get to it and I was thinking on using a Woodf++d 17CP3-6-MT(3/4″) inch but after reading your xlnt post I wondered what brand you used as a sillcock? It looks sturdy or just plated nice!
Switch from an iron nipple passing through 3.5″ of brick to a copper piped model gives me pause as lateral force on the faucet could crush the pipe!
Also…On the sharkbite connection…what do you think of using a sillcock with a 3/4″ mpt and then use a 12″ Shark bite 1/2C to 3/4NPT Water Heater SS braided line to connect them? I have a 1/2″ CPVC supply and I could slide(Compress) the end of the Sharkbite hose onto the supply line and screw tighten the other end to the end of the sillcock? My walls are very insulated (3.5″ brick, Airgap, 1/2 EPS FOAM, 5/8 OSB sheathing and R 30 inside) Brick to sheetrock-14 inches!
Sorry for all the info…Not sure whether to get a sill cock with a MPT end or just sweat ended and slide a sharkbite onto it?
You plumbers are smart dudes!
Greg in SC.
Wish I could say I was a plumber!! But unfortunately I’m just a normal guy who’s handy and would hate to give you bad advice. One thing is for sure: you have really good insulation and whatever plan you choose will likely be okay. Just make sure you’re to code.
I feel your pain with the water leak. This past weekend we found a leak coming from our main stack which leads from the second floor down into the garage. It will require drywall removal and some nasty ABS positions.
i always forget..i have the frost free sill cock installed..
i have stut off the water to the outside spigot(sill cock) for the winter..
do i leave the outside spigot open or closed?
Once you’re sure all the water is drained you can close the sillcock. That way cold air won’t enter the line going into the house. Hope this helps.
I have a totally different kind of set-up for my plumbing. I live in south Texas where we seldom get freezing temps. All my plumbing for my home is PVC and runs along the east side length of the house. I have shut-off valves where the water comes into the house in two places. One underneath the kitchen, of course, and another where the pipe comes into the house for the bathroom. The shut-off valves are outdoors close to the building. So far this winter we only had two nights where we had to let water drip for fear of freezing. As soon as it’s morning, the temps warm up and we can turn off the water. Will this kind of sillcock, which I never heard of, work with PVC pipes? I, like you, do my own repairs. I’m a mature woman and I totally impress my friends with some of the projects that I take on. I recently worked on a leak under my kitchen sink. Very small, but annoying. Since the plumbing is exposed to the elements. I believe that the contraction caused by the recent cold snap, may have weakened the PVC glue. Hence a tiny leak. The outdoor faucets are wrapped with foam pipe insulation. I would love to install that electrical tape that you mentioned. I’ve been in this house 9 years and have not had a major break in that time. Just a leak or two. I’m all about prevention and what I’ve done so far seems to work. I just like what you have done and would give me that extra level of security. Plus, I just plain like that stuff that you used! So, will all this work on my PVC pipes?
You can use SharkBite fittings and the frost-free sillcock on CPVC Dahlia. Just be sure to to double check and make sure that the SharkBites say they’re for CPVC. Some fans have told me that they’ve seen SharkBites that are just for copper and while I’ve not seen this I’d hate for you to buy the wrong version.
The heating cable I used can be placed on CPVC as well. Again, read the directions with the one that you want to buy to ensure it’s compatible.
Good job doing your own plumbing. That’s not easy stuff and you sound like a pro 🙂
Question for u…what if I can only cut it at a certain point ( cause the hole to get at it is way to small) and I end up with 19 inches of copper pipe at the end of the tap?
Thanks Karen for your question. Do you mind sending me some pictures of your predicament? That way I’ll be able to see your situation and give you a good opinion.
We have a frost-free sillcock in our new home (2nd winter) that burst. We DID NOT have a hose attached, and the water was valve was shut off in the fall prior to freezing temps. Should the plumbers have insulated the pipe leading to the outside wall? Did we miss something? Any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Hmmm, that’s terrible Stacey. I’m sorry to hear about your misfortune.
Was there any water remaining in the sillcock and does it tilt downward? The reason I ask is that any water left in the sillcock will still expand when it freezes. And if it tilts upward there will be water in it even though you drain it.
Did the sillcock burst or did the pipe inside your house leading to it burst?
My plumber failed to tilt the silicock when it was installed and I am still having indoor pipes break costing $$. Should I take him to small claims court. He doesn’t answer my calls.
I want to buy a house but it is missing the siding and the back of the house was ripped off, how much would it be to repair that?
That’s a toughy without actually seeing all the details. Get several quotes from reputable contractors who have insurance. I’ve always had great fortune using A grade Angie’s List contractors. Some people like their service and others don’t but I’ve vetted several contractors and use them to this day.
I just replaced my spigot using the sharkbite and I have a small bead of a leak exiting from the fitting. Any tips on getting this too stop?
It the leak persists try to remove the SharkBite, mark 1 inch into the pipe, then push the fitting onto the pipe so that it butts up against your mark.
Also, make sure the pipe is cut square and is smooth on all edges. This helps the SharkBite fit snug.
If after you do all of this and it still has a slight leak I’d take the fitting back and get a new one. Chances are good that you won’t have to do this though.
Keep me posted 🙂
A knowledgeable advised me to be sure to disconnect the garden hose from the frost free spigot before the first frost, and informed me that otherwise– despite the presence of the frost free bib gizmo– a pipe can burst. Can you tell me if this is correct, and if so how that happens ? Many thanks.
My house is built on a concrete slab. All water lines are buried in the concrete. The prevailing winter cold wind direction freezes the kitchen cold water faucet and the hose bib on the same side of the house. Can this be fixed short of tearing up the slab?
Hi expert ! ;o)
I’m looking for a connector to link a 1/2″ copper pipe to a 3/8″ nut of a flexible pipe (no soldering).
It should look like this (“biting” system?):
===1/2″pipe=== ]]##connector##= ]]3/8″nut(female)=====
or that with a nut on the 1/2″ pipe (“gripp” system?):
===1/2″pipe===[[ =##connector##= ]]3/8″nut(female)=====
Does it exist ?
Where could I buy it ?
Thanks by advance.
i have a pvc water line coming from underneath my deck. have an old outdoor faucet connected that is beyond repair. i bought a new brass one with that quick fit system on it. how can i attach it to the 1/2 inch pvc water line. existing attachment is with an adapter that is glued to waterline and screwed to old faucet. would like to find adapter with quick fit to pvc and 1 1/4 inch extension to faucet quick fit inlet. if possible.
thx for this .doing this today .sharkbite is the best connector use it for all my plumbing projects nothing easier or better
I’ve got a similar project. I replaced four sillcocks on a slab foundation, cutting holes in the wall from the inside and unthreading my old sillcocks. I soldered on a new drop ear 90 elbow and reused existing drop ears that were in good shape.
In my view (but that’s subjective), using Sharkbites inside a wall assembly is somewhat foolish. Those O rings will fail after 10 or so years and you will end up with a leak. Soldered joints, however, will last decades, virtually as long as the piping itself. And applying teflon paste on the threading will result in a good long-time seal.
There is a reason why professional plumbers would never install something like that in a wall. It might look easy at first but you will probably have a system that is not truly long-lived. If you catch it in time, you can reinstall a new assembly. If it goes unnoticed, you’ll have water damage. All connections will leak at some point. But I bet my propane torch that the soldered joint will be the best guarantee against leaks.
When our roof deck was installed, they put a frost free outside, above the deck extending to the open area between the deck and roof. There is now a drain inside the house so I can empty the outdoor pipes and I was able to drain it last year with no problem. This year, the water won’t drain out – the outdoor valve is open and I even tried a shop vac to suck the water flow to start and tried blowing it out from the outside by reversing the shop vac – no luck. Is there something I should be doing to allow the water to release?
Thanks man, for the detailed write-up.
Are you supposed to do anything with the built-in anti-siphon? Are you supposed to open the cap or leave it closed? I don’t quite understand that part. Thanks!
my i/2 water line leading to the sillcock already has a threaded connection and has many turns and curves leading to it, and as such, there is not much straight line pipe prior to that threaded connection so I am worried if i cut that pipe there wont be enough room for a sharkbite. Now then was wondering if those threaded type sillcock can be undone from the outside where I can get leverage, the inside connection area is surrounded by studs and concrete, making it difficult (impossible) to get the connection apart. Thoughts ?
both of my outdoor faucets sprung a leak, not in the winter due to freezing, but on 90% days as I was gardening with the hose on a hot sunny day. Would use the hose intermittently and I was told that the heat from the sun caused the pressure release valve to rupture. Now, with a finished basement bathroom it is going to be a costly repair. Is there a system that prevents that from happening?
I have not found a brand of sillcocks that doesn’t fail within a year or two. Do you have any brands you recommend? Or is it normal to have to rebuild them (and even that doesn’t fix half of them).
Jeff, Have you had any experience with the new Sharkbite Frost Free Silcock? Seems like they would be easier to use?
Wish someone would tell me a mainly trouble free frost free hose bib. Ours with the greatest use never lasts longer than a few years, when they all start to leak behind the faucet. Prier seems to be the worst! All is installed properly, no hoses left on, we even have a shut off inside the house for this one. It is on the prevailing wind side of the house, it gets -20 here sometimes. It does get used in winter for water for plants wintering over in the garage. Got a better brand?
I think it’s essential to secure the hose bib to the wall on the outside of the house if you’re going to use SharkBite fittings, given that you’re often going to have a hose tugging on the hose bib. While I sort of trust SharkBite in situations where there is no dynamic load on the fitting, I don’t trust them to hang onto the pipe or maintain their internal O-ring seal if something is pulling on the hose bib. If there’s room inside the house, I’d much rather sweat a fitting onto the end of the supply line than use a SharkBite fitting in this application.
Any idea where you can buy the plastic flange? My spigot didn’t come with one and it will be installed in hardi-plank siding which is already tilted the wrong way.
Is there a model, that uses a ‘cartridge’ for the shutoff? I have replaced the ‘washer’ that hardened and subsequently leaked – on a soldered unit.
I need FLOW specs on freeze proof sillcocks.