Did You Shut Off Your Hose Bib to Prevent a Flooded Basement?


With bitter freezing temperatures gripping the country, many homeowners will needlessly suffer the misery of a flooded basement due to frozen outside hose bibs.  You may look at the picture and say, how can something frozen solid possibly flood my basement?  The answer is it won't...until it thaws out.  What happens is the pipe expands and splits as it freezes, but doesn't leak because of it being frozen.  As the weather warms and the pipe thaws out, the split portion will flood your basement.

As Ben Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  A few very simple steps can avert disaster.

1)  Find the shutoff valve inside your home for the hose bib.  Usually it can be found right on the inside wall where to pipe goes through to the bib.  Make sure it is shut off.

2) Go outside and open the hose bib valve if it's not frozen.  If you feel any resistance or tightness in the handle then leave it alone.  Forcing it to turn will only damage the     valve.

3)  If the bib is already frozen you need to thaw it out.  This can be easily accomplished by slowing pouring warm water over the valve.  Make sure to pour it directly on the point where the valve passes through the wall.  Modern frost-proof hose bibs are designed with the valve several inches further back from the handle, so there can be quite a bit of frozen water inside the pipe.

4)  If you have left your garden hose attached now is the time to unhook it.  Even modern frost-proof hose bibs will freeze if the hose is left attached, since the water inside the valve cannot drain.

5)  Many shutoff valves have a bleeder on the side of the valve body.  This is a small cap that can be unscrewed, which wil break the vacuum and allow any water still inside the valve to drain.  After draining be sure to screw the cap back on tightly, otherwise you will have a leak in the spring when you turn everything back on.

6)  Leave the hose bib open with the shutoff valve closed.  This will allow any water inside the pipe to drain and prevent refreezing.

These 6 simple steps can alleviate a potential disaster.  Every year thousands of homeowners endure needless suffering and expense that can be avoided with a little prevention.  By following these simple steps you can prevent a flooded basement even if the hose bib is already frozen.

Don Willard

Advanced Carpet Cleaning

Bel Air, MD

(410) 893-3575