How to protect outside taps

Written by tom ross | 13/05/2017
How to protect outside taps
Protect your outside taps from freezing in winter. (Craig Coley/iStock/Getty Images)

Invest the time and effort to protect and insulate outside taps before the onset of freezing weather and you will save money, time and frustration by preventing the pipes from freezing up and splitting. Begin this project when you don't need the outside taps to water the garden and it becomes too cold to wash cars outside. Late autumn is a good time to get ahead of the weather and be certain that the pipes are protected when the first freeze comes. Protecting outside pipes involves caulking cracks and openings, insulating taps and taking common-sense precautions.

Seal cracks and openings around the tap where the pipe enters the wall of the house. Use caulking compound to caulk brick, mortar or wood walls, according to packet directions.

Use a foam spray, which expands and solidifies to seal the opening, if it is too large for caulking. Use according to packet directions. The objective is to make the entry for the pipe airtight.

Close all wall vents by covering them with wooden or foam covers that are cut to fit and firmly secured against the vent vanes. Remember to open the vents again in the spring.

Wrap outside taps and pipes with insulation tape and cover the tap with a moulded foam cover. Both of these items are simple to install.

Wrap outside pipes leading to the tap with insulation tape and cover them with a moulded foam pipe cover.

Turn off the shut-off valve for the tap and then turn the outside tap to the on position to drain water from the lines. Leave the outside tap on, locate the small brass plug on the inside shut-off valve and turn it anti-clockwise with a crescent wrench to further drain water from the outside tap. Close it again by turning it clockwise until it is tight.

Disconnect garden hoses from the tap. Water can freeze in the hose, back up and freeze up the tap, causing the tap fitting and pipes to split.


Walk around the house and develop a check list of what steps need to be taken before winter.


Use of electrical heat tape could result in a fire.

Never use an open flame to thaw water pipes as this could result in an explosion.

Tips and warnings

  • Walk around the house and develop a check list of what steps need to be taken before winter.

Things you need

  • Caulking compound
  • Foam insulation spray
  • Moulded foam tap over
  • Moulded foam pipe cover
  • Insulation tape
  • Vent covers
  • Crescent wrench

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