If you've got a freeze proof outdoor faucet, it's only a matter of time before it starts leaking. It's just the nature of the beast. While these designs do an excellent job of not freezing up and bursting during the cold winter months, they tend to eventually leak. Sometimes they'll leak through the handle apparatus, other times through the valve stem. Sometimes you'll only notice a small drip, other times you'll find yourself taking a shower every time you open it up.
The good news is that it doesn't take much money or handyman experience to get these back into tip-top shape. In fact, the average DIY (do it yourself) guy or gal can probably get a leaking freeze proof faucet back into shape within about an hour and for less than about $20.
But first, let me explain why these things are so prone to leaking in the first place:
Almost every new home that's built in an area of the world with cold weather temperatures (or at least those that dip below freezing) come with so-called "freeze proof outdoor faucets." All that really means is that there's a rubber sealed valve offset a few inches back from the knob itself, the idea is that it keeps the water supply buried in the insulation of the home and away from the cold exterior. The drawback of this design is that once you close the valve you'll see that it's still dripping, and the first inclination is to crank the valve tighter. But the drip is simply the remnants of the water left between the valve and faucet, so there's no real cause for over tightening; but needless to say, the over tightening will crush and destroy the delicate rubber washer system, thus causing the same leak you were trying hard to prevent in the first place.
The only reason I bring this up is so once you get the leak taken care of, you don't turn around and damage the seal again, thus needing to repeat this step over and over again.
Outdoor Freeze Proof Faucet Repair Parts
Credit: Amazon.comFreeze proof faucets are rather simple designs, incorporating the following parts into a system that prevents freezing during the cold winter months without the need for "blowing out" the lines. Please check out the photo of the full assembly as a reference.
(Also worth noting, sometimes it's easier to replace the entire assembly considering how inexpensive they are. For example, the one in the photo only costs about $14 on Amazon - and that's for the 12 inch version, the shorter ones are even cheaper).
I'll list these parts in the order you'd find as you take the faucet assembly apart.
Knob. This is what you turn to open the valve. It's usually held in place with a simple retaining screw.
Retaining Nut. This comes off easily once the knob is off, though you'll need two good wrenches to break it free, one to turn the knob and the other to hold the spigot in place (you dont' want to twist the entire assembly, you could cause even more damage). Note that some people call this a "packing nut" rather than a "retaining nut." It's all semantics, they're the same things. Also, some assemblies may have one, others may have two.
Stem. Once the retaining nut is off, screw the knob back on with the retaining screw and pull the stem out. It should come out rather easily unless it's bent or damaged. While you've got it out, take a few seconds to make sure it's straight; if it's damaged replace it.
Washer. At the end of the stem you'll find a rubber washer that's held on with a simple screw. This is almost always the culprit of a leaking freeze proof faucet. The good news is that it's super easy to replace, just remove the screw, replace the washer, then put the screw back in.
As you disassemble the faucet, take care not to "rough it up" too much. Sure they are made out of some tough materials (usually brass), but all it takes is a bad twist to bend the shaft or tear out a thread tooth. Not to say you need to treat them like fine china, but don't go overboard banging on them with big hammers if they get stuck. If possible, use pipe tape on the grips of your wrenches.
Where To Buy Freeze Proof Faucet Parts
You shouldn't have any problem finding freeze proof faucet repair parts at any home improvement or building supply store. They are usually stocked in the "plumbing" section, though if your favorite store has an "irrigation" section, you might check there, too. Or just ask a customer service person, they'll be glad to help (and they'll probably be impressed that you know the names of everything!).
Here is a short list of stores that are almost certain to have the "frost proof" faucet repair parts you'll need:
- Home Depot
- Ace Hardware
- D&B Supply
- Contractor Supply Stores
- Sometimes even massive retailers like Wal-Mart and Target have them.
If you don't need your faucet parts right away, you could always save a few bucks and order them online. Almost without exception you'll find much better deals online than you will in even the cheapest local retailer - and that's even including the cost of shipping (plus, in most places you won't pay sales tax on online purchases, so you'll save even more).
Sure it's not ideal if you need the parts right away, but if you've got a few days before you tackle that leaking freeze proof faucet and don't need the parts immediately, buying them online is a great way to save a few bucks.
I'd start with Amazon first, since they seem to beat everybody's prices, even the mega retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's. Plus they often offer free shipping, which could save you even more money.
If you can't find what you need there, then I'd try hitting up respected websites like HomeDepot.com and Lowes.com.