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Frozen Hose Bib: How to Thaw & Prevent Major Water Damage

The hose bib is your outdoor water spigot, where you connect a hose or other equipment for outside chores and activities so in the winter, a frozen hose bib creates a major risk of water damage. Learn how to thaw your hose bib and what to do to prevent water damage inside your home. 

Problems Caused by a Frozen Hose Bib

A frozen hose bib poses a major threat of water damage to your home. When water freezes inside the hose bib piping, the pipe could burst, which causes a water leak inside or underneath your home. 

In many cases, homeowners don’t realize there’s a problem until the following spring. We’ve visited homes where the owners used the outdoor hose to fill a pool or powerwash, only to discover water was flowing indoors from the leaky pipe from over the winter. 

Water damage is often expensive to repair. It’s important to work with experts to avoid or remove mold growth. People lose time dealing with it as well as often irreplaceable sentimental items. Avoid a major flood in your crawlspace, basement, or living spaces with these tips. 

Despite our mild winters, Birmingham frequently sees below-freezing temperatures. For example, here is a chart from, with temperatures recorded at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

birmingham al lowest temperatures in recent years

Birmingham’s lowest temperatures in recent years

How to Thaw a Frozen Hose Bib

If your hose bib freezes, it is critical for you to take immediate action to thaw it. Follow these steps to thaw your frozen hose bib:

  1. Open the hose bib spigot (turn the handle in the direction that allows water to flow). When the hose bib is frozen, there is no water flow, but you want to leave the spigot open for thawing.
  2. Use old towels or rags and wrap them around the hose bib’s base, behind the spout.
  3. Pour boiling water slowly over the cloth to saturate.
  4. Continue to add boiling water to the cloth, and periodically check the spout to see if water trickles out.
  5. Keep the hose bib faucet open until water freely flows.

If you have a hair dryer or heat gun available, use these to apply heat to the piping and help thaw your frozen hose bib.

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How to Prevent a Frozen Hose Bib

An ounce of prevention helps Birmingham area homeowners avoid the problem of a frozen hose bib over the winter, and the major issues that come with it. Winterize your hose bib each fall or install a frost-free model to reduce the risk altogether.

Here’s How to Winterize a Hose Bib

Follow these steps to winterize your hose bib in the fall:

  1. Disconnect the garden hose – drain and store it until the spring.
  2. Turn off the water valve on the pipe that supplies the hose bib.
  3. Open the hose bib spout and allow any water within to drain out.
  4. Leave the hose bib faucet open throughout the winter to avoid pressure buildup caused by freezing water inside the pipes.
  5. Cut a piece of Styrofoam piping insulation and apply it to the exposed pipe between the exterior of your home and the spigot on the hose bib. Apply insulation tape to secure the piece.
  6. Caulk any openings on the exterior of the home where the piping penetrates the wall.

Do Frost-Free Hose Bibs Work?

Frost-free hose bibs are upgraded plumbing components and help homeowners avoid the frozen hose bib problems like water damage. These hose bib models angle downward outside to promote draining and extend farther into the home to prevent freezing. As the water valve is located farther into the home, it is exposed to warmer temperatures to stop freezing and keep the pipe warm.

Caring for a frost-free hose bib is much simpler than prevention needed to stop freezing in a regular hose bib. Simply disconnect the garden hose from your frost-free hose bib each fall!

Hose Bib Help from Douglas Cooling & Heating, a Douglas Cooling & Heating Company

If you experience a frozen hose bib or want to take action to get ahead of this common winter plumbing problem, call Douglas Cooling & Heating, a Douglas Cooling & Heating Company, for help! Our licensed plumbers install frost-free hose bibs to replace your old model and enhance home protection. If your hose bib freezes, call us for help if you are unable to thaw it. 

Even if you are able to thaw the hose bib yourself, you want a plumber to take a look for damage and remedy any issues caused. 

As always, if you need assistance with heating and cooling issues, our parent company, Douglas Cooling & Heating is ready to assist you. Our HVAC technicians are NATE-certified, we’re a Bryant Factory Authorized Dealer and have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. When you need help with plumbing or HVAC, Call Douglas!

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