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Thread: retrofitting freeze-proof bib

  1. #1
    DIY Member ginahoy's Avatar
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    Default retrofitting freeze-proof bib

    Hi, My area has been experiencing record cold temps and one of our hose bibs broke last night as temp hit 19. Our codes don't require freeze proof bibs as it rarely gets below 30. This particular bib sticks out from house about 6" to accommodate a T to an irrigation system valve, which had been shut off for the winter (see image below). But the extra exposure makes it particularly vulnerable. The T is a compression fitting, so fortunately, the irrigation feeder pipe came out of the fitting instead of rupturing. It took me about 5 mintues to fix, but we lost about 1000 gallons before a neigbor knocked on the door. Not good when you live in the desert!

    I'd like to install a freeze-proof bib, but I just saw a diagram of how they work and it appears I can't use one here because of the exposed T joint. Moreover, this faucet is plumbed into the middle of an interior wall, so there's no way to access the backside.

    This is a rental house and I need to help the owner figure out how to prevent this from happening again. Are there any alternatives short of replumbing the irrigation supply? This would require tearing out drywall.

    David
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  2. #2

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    Without knowing a whole lot about the layout of the whole plumbing system it would be hard to say. All irrigation systems I've seen are tee'd into the water line before it goes into the house and has a checkvalve to prevent contamination of the potable water supply. So, it might be better to run the pipe to Irrigation to the main supply. As for a frost free bib... I would go ahead and cut the drywall if that's going to prevent this from happening again.

  3. #3
    Commercial Plumber markts30's Avatar
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    Welcome fellow Phoenician...
    What I would do (and have recommended others do as well) is to get one of those decorative rocks (the foam ones for covering irrigation valves) and cover the hose bibb with it...
    HD sells them - L's probably does as well...
    For really cold nights (like the last few), you can even go so far as to put a 40W trouble light inside the cover with the water supply line...
    This will insulate it and keep if from freezing for the few nights you need it...
    .
    .
    Or just let the hose bibb dribble a bit of water all night - the little bit of running water will prevent it form leaking...
    Last edited by markts30; 01-15-2007 at 04:13 PM.

  4. #4
    In the Trades kordts's Avatar
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    You really need an RPZ, what you have here is illegal. It is a cross connection.

  5. #5
    DIY Member ginahoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markts30
    Welcome fellow Phoenician...
    Surely you jest? You think I live in Phoenix?! You You Phoenicians wouldn't know 19 degrees if it hit you in the face! Sorry, I couldn't resist

    Seriously, this has been the coldest winter in recent memory around these parts. Even your official low of 29 Sunday night (in Phoenix) must be near record. Even though we're much further south, here in Sierra Vista, the elevation is nearly 5,000 MSL. Makes for a nice summer.

    I'm not sure how I could cover up a side-mounted hose bib / irrigation riser with one of those fake rocks, but I'll check it out tomorrow. Perhaps I have the wrong image in my head. At my last home, back east in NC, I coverd my water well with a big rock. In fact, I recall using a light bulb once to keep the well head from freezing. In that case, the temps were below zero.

    David
    Last edited by ginahoy; 01-15-2007 at 10:38 PM.

  6. #6
    DIY Member ginahoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kordts
    You really need an RPZ, what you have here is illegal. It is a cross connection.
    Please elaborate. Isn't an RPZ basically a backflow prevention device? I do know they require backflow devices on all hose bib nozzles. I would have assumed the irrigation system has one somewhere downstream of the cutoff valve before it goes to ground.

    The owner will be very interested if there's something he can leverage the builder with, especially from a legal standpoint. Although this house is past warranty, it's only two years old and sold for over $300k. I learned that four neighbors houses, same builder, had the exact same break today after I wrote my initial message. Obviously pretty shoddy design, if not illegal.

    David

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default bfp

    That connection does not require an RPPBFP, but it does need a pressure backflow preventer because it has the zone valve downstream from it. It would have to be a very tall "rock" to cover the hose bibb. There is no way to install a "freeze resistant" hose bibb and keep the irrigation connection, nor to make the irrigation connect freeze proof. Wrapping it with newspaper or insulation, and/or making an insulated box to slip over it is the usual way it is done in Phoenix.

  8. #8
    DIY Member ginahoy's Avatar
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    a followup...

    I spoke with a local building inspector and he agrees these sorts of connections *should* be code violations but they get by because they're installed after the house is completed.

    Suprisingly, after the builder heard about the ruptures, he sent a punch worker around to all his homes in the neighborhood to install a thick coat of pipe insulation. This was pretty impressive since most of the homes are no longer under warranty.

    David

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