In the Pacific Northwest, winters aren’t as cold as in the Northeast or the Midwest. Below freezing temperature is uncommon, but we still get cold spells every once in awhile. If your rental property is occupied and your tenants are running the water, the risk of indoor pipes bursting is low. However, the outdoor hose bibs are particularly vulnerable to freezing and breaking, especially during a cold night.
Why do outdoor hose bibs burst?
The physics is pretty simple. Outdoor faucets, that are mounted on the outside wall, have still water. When the temperature falls below zero, the water turns into ice. Water ice expands and occupies more space inside pipes. Depending on the age of the piping, this can result in the pipes bursting.
What damage does this cause?
Burst hose bibs often cause water damage invisible from plain sight, either in the drywall or in the basement. This damage can be difficult to detect which leads to longer and deeper problems that require expensive repair.
“The best solution for this problem is prevention.”
The easiest way to prevent outdoor faucets and hose bibs from freezing is by installing hose bib covers. Hose bib covers create a buffer between the outdoor faucet and the cold air, and therefore keeps the faucet from freezing or bursting. They are about $10 at Home Depot or Lowes. From a timing perspective, it is critical to install the cover before winter.