The Hose Bib and Its Aliases
Almost every house has one but you may call it by another name. Sillcock, spigot, outdoor faucet, hydrant or hose bib are all different names for the same thing. Quite often these faucets fail from improper use or improper installation. These types of hose bibs are usually required by your local plumbing code and when installed in in-climate regions they are prone to freezing. They are designed to protect the valve from freezing by locating the actual valve within the heated portion of the home. To further protect the home a shut off valve may be installed just inside of the house where the hose bib exits the wall. This allows the hose bib to be “drained down” before the first freeze. The reason home owners have so many problems with hose bibs is there is a small amount of water left in the the supply line servicing the faucet, when the water freezes it expands and has no where to go so it splints the copper piping. If the water is drained there is no risk of the pipe breaking.
The name sillcock came from the location where it is installed. It is generally installed in the sill board just above the foundation. Not all installations are the same, some may actually come out of the concrete foundation, some may come out of brick, but one thing is common: they all terminate in a heated part of the house.
How Frost-Proof Sillcocks Work
The frost proof sillcock operation is like most other faucets with one big difference, the faucet’s length is much longer to protect the valve from the cold elements. The frost free faucet has 4 main parts, the handle, the stem which is connected to the handle, the body and spout where the stem is inside of, and the valve seat. As the handle is turned, the stem rotates within the body and closes the valve seat located at the end, inside of the heated space of the house. Once the valve is seated the water flow stops. The water then drains from the body and out the spout. In order for the water to drain out the valve it must be installed so the spout end (outside) is lower than the supply end (inside). Another mistake people make that prohibits proper draining is they leave the hose connected to the spout. There is almost always water left inside the garden hose that can make its way back into the spigot. If it freezes it again can split the sillcock or piping.
These valves are all similar and operate in much the same manner. They come in sizes from 10 inches to 2 feet and longer. Custom sizes are available upon request. Most also contain a vacuum breaker. Some of these valves are quarter turn and use either a ceramic valving or a ball valve at the end. Other valves are multi-turn and use a rubber seat which eventually gets worn and requires maintenance.
Freeze Proof Hose Bib Breakdown
When a wall hydrant fails there can be very damaging results. The body or casing tube ruptures inside of the house and water flows unrestricted until the water supply to the valve is closed. That is what is most damaging sometime a small rupture occurs and people don’t realize it until the damage is done. The very first thing to do when you notice a hose bib leaking is isolate the water to the unit or shut of the water supply to the house.
There are some new frost proof sillcocks that are a homeowners best friend and a plumbers worst friend. The new style valve from Woodford incorporates a self resetting pressure relief valve that protects the the body of the hose bibb from rupturing in freezing conditions. This valve even provides protection when the hose is left on in the winter. The way it functions is if there is water left in the line and it freezes it expands opening the pressure relief valve releasing the excess water and allowing somewhere for water to go.
This is a great freeze proof hose bib which can save the homeowner from the damaging results of flooding and water damage. This could be the last sill cock you would ever have to buy, that is why it is advertised as “freezeless”.