Choose the Best Frost-Free Faucet for Your Outdoor Water Access Needs

Having access to outdoor water is incredibly convenient for everything from gardening and washing vehicles to entertaining guests. But if you live in an area with cold winters, standard outdoor faucets that remain exposed can freeze, burst pipes, and leave you without exterior water access.

That’s where frost-free outdoor faucets come in. These specialty faucets are designed to prevent freezing and pipe damage during frigid weather. But not all frost-free faucets are created equal. The optimal model depends on factors like your climate conditions, wall thickness, and intended water uses.

frost-free outdoor faucet types

In this guide, we’ll walk through the key types of frost-free outdoor faucets and the most important features to consider so you can make the best choice for your home.

What Makes a Faucet Frost-Free?

Frost-free outdoor faucets have a few special design elements that keeps the water flowing even when temperatures dip below freezing:

  • The faucet has a long interior stem pipe that reaches back into the warmer interior wall of your home.
  • The shutoff valve is located at the end of this interior stem, protected from freezing.
  • When drained and shut off for winter, water empties out of the stem and faucet head so there is no water left to freeze and expand.

This differs from standard outdoor faucets, where the shutoff valve and compression mechanism are positioned right behind the exterior handle. This leaves the valve vulnerable to freezing. The small amount of water trapped in the faucet body can freeze and crack the brass fitting.

Main Types of Frost-Free Faucets

There are a few main designs of frost-free outdoor faucets to choose from:

Hose Bibb Spigots

Hose bibb spigots are likely what comes to mind when you think of a classic outdoor faucet. These have a threaded nozzle for conveniently attaching a garden hose. Hose bibbs come in a range of high-quality materials like solid brass or stainless steel to withstand outdoor conditions.

Wall-Mounted Spigots

Wall-mounted frost-free spigots are designed to be installed flush with your exterior wall. They don’t require a long interior stem pipe. This makes them ideal if you have limited space indoors or your exterior walls are made of brick, stone, or another rugged material.

Multi-Station Spigots

Go for a multi-station frost-free spigot if you need to access water from multiple points outside your home. These have a main faucet head along with additional side tap outlets. Great for large properties with detached garages, gardens, pet areas and more.

Other Specialty Options

You can also find more specialty frost-free faucets like:

  • Solar-powered self-heating models – Use a solar panel to generate electricity that powers a heating element to stay frost-free.
  • Automatic drain models – Programmed to fully drain after each use so no water remains in the line.
  • WiFi-connected smart faucets – Control flow and monitor usage from your phone.

Key Features to Consider

Once you decide on the spigot design, there are a few key features to take into account:


Frost-free faucets come in various materials like:

  • Brass – Classic look but requires more maintenance.
  • Stainless steel – Most durable and frost-resistant option.
  • Chrome-plated plastic – Cheaper but more prone to cracking.
  • Copper – Naturally corrosion and frost resistant.

Stem Length

Make sure to get the right length stem for your exterior wall thickness. Too short and the valves could still freeze. Too long is awkward to install.


Beyond the main faucet material, look for finishes like:

  • Chrome – Sleek and contemporary.
  • Oil-rubbed bronze – Rustic, vintage aesthetic.
  • Brushed nickel – Understated and modern.

Specialty Features

Some frost-free faucets offer bonus features like:

  • Built-in soap dispensers .
  • Pet washing stations .
  • Locks to avoid tampering.

Finding the Right Length Stem

One of the most important considerations is choosing the proper stem length to match your exterior wall thickness:

  1. Measure from the indoor wall surface to the exterior surface where the faucet will be installed.
  2. Add around 2 inches as a buffer to ensure the shutoff valve extends into the warmer interior area.
  3. Select a standard stem length that matches closest: 6, 8, 10, or 12 inches are common.
  4. If needed, the stem can be cut to a custom length during installation.

Undersizing the length risks freezing while oversizing makes for an awkward installation. Take the time to precisely measure and pick the right stem size.

Installation Tips and Process

Installing a new frost-free faucet takes some plumbing know-how but is a manageable DIY project for many homeowners:

  1. Turn off the main interior water supply and open outdoor faucets to depressurize the lines.
  2. Based on the faucet location, cut a hole in the exterior wall deep enough for the new faucet and stem.
  3. Feed the stem pipe through the hole and secure the faucet base to the outer wall.
  4. Connect the stem to the interior water lines, minding the angle for proper drainage pitch.
  5. Attach a required vacuum breaker or anti-siphon valve on the final faucet connection.
  6. Insulate pipes and valves inside the wall cavity to prevent freezing.

If this seems complex, don’t hesitate to hire a professional plumber for proper installation. Proper drainage slope and integrating with your existing plumbing system can take expertise.

Ongoing Maintenance

While frost-free, these outdoor faucets still require some seasonal maintenance:

  • In winter, completely drain all water from the faucet and lines. Remove hoses and install an insulated faucet cover.
  • Consider electrically heated heat tape for additional freeze protection in extreme climates.
  • Periodically check for leaks at fittings and repair any drips immediately.
  • Lubricate the faucet’s interior valves before winter to prevent sticking.
  • Service the vacuum breaker according to manufacturer guidelines.
  • Every few years, confirm the faucet drainage angle allows complete water drainage.

Taking the time for proper care and maintenance will ensure your frost-free faucet provides reliable water service for years to come.

Installing a frost-free outdoor faucet offers the convenience of exterior water access even during freezing conditions. Just be sure to choose the right style and features for your climate and needs.

Consider hose bibbs for hose connections, wall-mounted models for tight spaces, and multi-station faucets for larger properties. Get the proper stem length for your wall thickness. And don’t forget required backflow prevention devices.

With the right frost-free faucet in place, you’ll be able to water gardens, wash vehicles, and more whenever you need.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *