A leaky hose bib (also called a sill cock, outdoor faucet, tap or spigot) can lead to exterior and interior water damage to your Ottawa home.
Take our advice; don’t ignore this problem (even if it’s a very slow drip), or you may face costly repair bills. Instead, keep your eye open for the telltale signs you’ve got a leak.
Signs You Have A Leaky Outdoor Faucet
If the “amount due” printed on your Ottawa water bill seems too high, that’s a red flag you should definitely investigate; the culprit could be a wasteful leak.
Check your water meter to discover what’s causing your high water bills. Start by ensuring all water sources in your home are off (i.e. appliances, faucets, toilets, ice makers, etc., are not running). Then, head to the basement to locate the water meter. (It’s usually on the front wall.) If a little red triangle continually moves, you have a leak somewhere within your plumbing system.
Evidence of an outdoor leak can be more obvious and may include:
Puddles Of Water
If you find damp soil or puddles of water around your foundation, it’s often related to a leaking hose bib. When too much water saturates one area, it can’t naturally drain quickly. Instead, it builds up and accumulates, leaving the area wet.
Mould & Mildew
Mould and mildew thrive in moist, humid environments. If your foundation is constantly wet due to a leaky faucet, you may see signs of mould growth. And, once you have it, it isn’t easy to get rid of. Not only that, under the right circumstances, it can spread throughout your entire house.
Water has a sneaky way of getting into crevices. Drips stemming from an outside faucet can cause water to get into tiny cracks in your foundation and make them much worse. When excess moisture in these spaces expands, it wreaks havoc on your foundation and weakens it. In addition, the cracks may eventually make their way into your basement, causing more damage.
What Causes A Hose Bib To Leak?
You can probably blame your leaking faucet problem on one of two things: our terribly frigid Ottawa winters or good ‘ole wear and tear.
It’s important to troubleshoot the source so that you can address it and prevent it from happening again in the future. These are the causes we commonly see:
Frozen Hose Bib
If the water within your pipe isn’t properly drained, it can freeze and burst. Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t usually think about outdoor faucets when temperatures drop below freezing, so an existing water pipe problem isn’t identified until spring rolls around.
A frozen pipe can change the water pressure and crack the assembly, causing water damage outside or inside your home. If your hose spigot isn’t working correctly when you start to use it again, contact Out of This World Plumbing to help identify the outdoor faucet problem and avoid costly repair bills. One way to prevent this problem is to have one of our techs replace your standard outdoor faucet with a Frost-Free hose bib.
Old Outdoor Faucet
A faucet won’t last forever. Just like everything, age will eventually start to show and impact its performance. If your hose bib appears old and weathered, it probably looks very similar inside. Mineral deposits build up over time, trapping water. This, plus small cracks, can cause leaks.
Inside your outdoor faucet is a valve stem holding a small rubber packing washer at the end of it. When the washer wears out, the seal it forms is compromised. If the flow of water cannot be stopped completely, you’ve got a leak. These washers wear out due to use, heat, cold, and age.
Loose Packing Nut
Occasionally, a piece of your faucet fixture has become loose, specifically, the packing nut. It is located right behind the faucet handle and, if loose, might be the source of your leak.
How Do I Stop My Hose Bib From Leaking?
If you’re up for a little DIY, you can try tightening the packing nut. Use an adjustable wrench and make a small 1/8-1/4 inch turn to see if that makes a difference. (Don’t go any further than that, or you might break the fitting.)
If the leak persists, it’s quite possible that the rubber washer, or another internal component, needs to be replaced.
At this point, things become more involved, so we advise that you hire a licenced and experienced plumber to avoid any costly mistakes.
If you do plan to proceed, do so with caution! Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Use the shutoff valve to turn off the water supply completely (you may need a cut off key to do this), and fully drain the faucet.
- Turn the packing nut counter-clockwise to take the assembly apart. (If needed, use a screwdriver to loosen the handle screw to remove the handle.)
- After removing the valve stem, you should see a screw holding a worn washer in place.
- Detach the washer and bring it to a hardware store to purchase an exact replacement.
- Take some time to clean the area where the previous faucet washer was before attaching the new one.
- Reassemble all the parts and then tighten the packing nut, being careful not to over-tighten and risk damaging the fixture.
Fix It Right the First Time and Prevent Future Leaks
If you suspect that you have water leaking anywhere in your home, give Out of This World a call today to diagnose the problem. We’ll ensure there are no leaks or faults in your exterior spigot, internal parts or the waterline and safely make any needed repairs for you.
We can also show you how to winterize your outdoor plumbing so you can get ahead of any potential plumbing problems brought on by our cold Ottawa weather.
Install a Frost Free Faucet
For the added peace of mind that comes with a guarantee and an extended warranty, have a trained Out of This World professional install all new Woodford frost proof faucets. Since the pipes leading to outside faucets are often the first to burst, you won’t regret it!