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hose bib faucet leak

The Hose Bib: What It Is & Why You Should Care

As we go about our days throughout the year in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield (IL), we attend to a lot of details. Think about it – a short list might include managing your bills, house cleaning, meals and groceries, kids’ schedules (in some cases), car (or cars) and the yard.

Among all of that, there’s a detail that’s easy to miss but able to make our lives a bit easier with some brief and proper attention: the hose bib. Most homes in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield will usually have at least one of them.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a hose bib is the outdoor fixture to which you attach your garden hose. In addition to hose bib, other common references to the device in the U.S. are “spigot” and “faucet.” “Tap” is popular in the U.K.

Usually located on the rear or side of the house, the hose bib supplies water for outdoor use, such as washing the car, watering the garden or lawn, or filling an inflatable pool for the kids.

Hose bibs typically differ from a home’s indoor faucets, which tend to use a cartridge-style device for controlling water flow. Hose bibs have a compression-style design with a brass, copper or stainless steel faucet that is opened and closed by spinning a wheel or a handle. The faucet handle is attached to a valve stem with threads and a rubber packing washer on the end. The garden hose is twisted and fastened onto the threads.

Most of us have likely been using a hose bib for much of our lives. We appreciate the convenience it offers in supplying water outside of the home. It really is an advantage – until it starts to leak.

A leaky hose bib can produce a lot of excess water and potentially cause damage inside or outside of your home. Even if there’s just a small drip, a leaky hose bib is something to keep an eye on. You can be proactive starting right now, before the winter sets in.

How Do I Know If My Hose Bib Is Leaking?

A leaky hose bib can reveal itself in both small and obvious ways.

Some of the smaller signs of a hose bib problem might be a visible crack in the bib or difficulty attaching the hose to the bib. You might also notice either runny water or a minor but steady drip from the bib every time you turn on the hose, even when the hose is firmly fastened. Sometime the leak might continue after the hose is turned off.

Bigger symptoms of a leaking hose bib can be:

puddles. Water that doesn’t stop dripping and leaking will saturate the area beneath it. Because the water can’t drain normally and fast enough, it will gather until it dampens the ground and forms puddles.

mold and mildew. Fungi love to set up shop in moist and humid environments. An area that is regularly wet will create an “open for business” sign for mildew and mold. Plus, once fungi settle in, they’re difficult to clear. They also can continue growing into the foundation and the home.

foundation cracks. Water is an unparalleled expert at finding points of entry no matter how skinny or small. Steady drips and leaks from a hose bib will often make their way into cracks and crevices as ports into the home. The water can help the cracks and crevices grow as well, potentially compromising the foundation and the basement.

Beyond those evident indicators, a hose bib that’s free to leak will also often raise the dollars due on water bills. If you’re starting to suspect something’s not right with your water use and charges, you can start by turning off all water sources in your home, such as the faucets, toilets and water-using appliances (dishwasher, laundry machine, etc.).

Next, check the meter in the basement, which is typically on the front wall. If the small red triangle is moving, you have a leak in your plumbing. In this event, call Aquaduct and we can help you solve it.

Why Is My Hose Bib Leaking?

A hose bib leak can originate from different factors, such as:

freezing. If any standing water is not drained before the bitter cold arrives in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield, it can freeze in pipes. A frozen pipe can change the water pressure and crack the assembly, including the hose bib. This can create problems both inside and outside of the home.

age. A lot of water will pass through the hose bib as the years go by. Over that time, the bib will gather minerals that trap water. Years of use can also create small cracks in the fixture. Either condition will further wear down the bib.

worn washer. The hose bib depends on its rubber packing washer at the end of the valve stem to stop water flow. A worn washer will have a weak seal that allows water to pass.

loose packing nut. Right behind the faucet handle, the packing nut uses several wraps of packing material to stop the flow of water from the top of the hose bib. A loose packing nut will let water leak.

bent or dented hose end. Lightweight hose ends can be easily damaged, causing leaks around the connector and the hose bib.

stripped adapter. The adapter is the circular metal part at the end of the hose that screws onto the hose bib. If the threads on either the adapter or the bib get stripped or worn, a leak can spring.

How Can I Stop My Hose Bib from Leaking?

The best way to stop a hose bib leak is to prevent it in the first place. You can achieve this by disconnecting the hose bib before winter, as well as by being mindful of the hose bib’s age and signs of wear. Replace the hose bib or the hose as needed if you begin to notice signs such as the ones we’ve discussed.

If you are comfortable doing so, rather than purchase a new hose, you can change out the metal connector at the end of the hose. This may be desirable if the leak is being caused by stripped threads on the adapter or there is just a small leak between the hose and adapter. You can purchase a new adapter in a kit. For further assistance or more information about hose bibs, hoses and adapters, just call us at Aquaduct.

Avid do-it-yourselfers can also initially approach a hose bib leak by inspecting the packing nut. With an adjustable wrench, make a small 1/8″ to 1/4″ inch turn to see if it helps. Be careful not to overturn the wrench, as it can break or crack the fitting.

If that doesn’t stop the leak, the next item to inspect can be the rubber washer. Use the shutoff valve to turn off the water supply and then fully drain the faucet. Turn the packing nut counter-clockwise to dismantle the assembly. You might need to use a screwdriver to loosen the handle screw to remove the handle.

Once you remove the valve stem, you should see a screw that holds the worn washer in place. Remove the washer and replace it with a matching one. Before you install the new washer, be sure to clean the area where it will be. After you put the new washer in, reassemble the parts and tighten the packing nut (but not too tightly).

If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, the plumbing experts at Aquaduct can assist you with any aspect of your hose bib, including diagnosing and correcting a leak. We also can replace an old hose bib with a high-quality frost-free hose bib.

We can show you ways to winterize your outdoor plumbing as well so you can enjoy free-flowing water without freezing, pipe bursts and leaks in late fall and winter.

Contact Us Today

Aquaduct is glad to be a community-based source of plumbing solutions for homeowners in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield (IL). Should you ever wish to discuss a hose bib or you think you might have one that’s leaking, simply call us at (630) 504-9594. We’ll be glad to assist you!

All products installed by Aquaduct Plumbing are made in the USA. They are also backed by a manufacturer’s warranty and a service warranty.

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