My Frost-Free Faucet Doesn't Work

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Working on your frost-free faucet does not require advanced plumbing skills.

Frost-free faucets have a longer stem than other outdoor faucets or sill cocks, which keeps the water deeper in the water supply pipe so the water does not freeze during the winter months. When your frost-free faucet does not flow at all, or water constantly drips out of the spout, fixing these problems takes little time or plumbing skills.


Shutoff Valve

When your frost free faucet does not have any water flowing through it, no matter how far you turn the faucet's handle counterclockwise, you need to check the shutoff valve on the faucet's water line to ensure the valve is open all the way. The shutoff valve handle may be behind a panel or door if your basement is finished; otherwise you can follow the water line that connects to the faucet and find the valve's handle. You must turn the handle counterclockwise as far as you can by hand to restore the flow of water to the faucet. If the problem is that you cannot turn the faucet's handle easily, the cause is an old rubber washer on the valve stem.


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If your frost free faucet is leaking water, you need to fix the problem before the faucet runs up your water bill. Also, if the outside temperatures dip below freezing, the leaking faucet may burst as the water freezes and expands, leading to flooding in your house. If you do not fix the leaking faucet right away, you should shut off the flow of water to it using the shutoff valve, stopping the faucet from leaking anymore.



You must remove the faucet's valve stem to fix leaks, or so you can turn the handle easily again since both problems are caused by a worn-out rubber gasket on the end of the valve stem. To remove the valve stem, you must first shut off the water to the faucet, and turn the faucet on all the way to release any water left inside. You'll need to remove the screw that holds the faucet handle in place, and slide off the handle. With the handle gone, loosen the nut that connects the faucet to the water pipe, and pull on the faucet to slide out the valve stem from the water pipe.



The rubber washer or seal that you need to replace sits on the end of the frost-free faucet's valve stem. Since the rubber washer sits in a groove, you must use the blade of a flathead screwdriver to pry the washer out of the valve stem. On some valve stems, a small screw holds the washer in place, so you must remove the screw and then the washer. When you install a replacement washer, it must be the exact same size as the old washer so it fits in the groove on the end of the valve stem correctly.



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