A sillcock (or hose bib) is an outdoor water faucet that is located and attached to the exterior of a house.
Sillcocks are nothing more than spigots that you’ll find coming out of your house. They essentially have a spout in which to connect hoses to or just access tap water while outside.
They are sometimes referred to as a hose bib, but that may not be a term everyone is immediately familiar with.
In simple terms, they are really a glorified outdoor water valve that brings you the same potable water you would get from your kitchen and bathrooms.
A sillcock brings you a nice convenience factor when it comes to gardening, keeping your outdoor plants watered or spraying down walkways and outdoor furniture.
Things to Know About Sillcocks
The best and most durable sillcock will be most commonly made from corrosion-resistant brass. The brightness might fade over time, but this is a reliable material for the job.
A strong handle is important since it’s exposed to the elements and can sometimes be bumped with tools and other outside equipment.
You want a good handle that is easy to turn, yet offers some resistance to help you better control the flow of water through the valve.
To make a sillcock easy to use with hoses and watering cans, the spout is usually pointed down at a 45-degree angle. This makes it easy to twist on a hose connector and helps to limit kinks in longer hoses.
The threaded hose bib spout can connect to copper, PVC, PEX or PE-RT pipes. You’ll most likely just be connecting a brass or plastic female connector that is attached to your garden hose.
As far as garden hose sizes, they can easily accommodate all the common diameter sizes such as 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch , 3/4-inch and the most typical 5/8-inch size.
As far as pressure goes, a good sillcock will be rated up to 200psi. And not that you’d run boiling hot water through it, a quality model can withstand water temperatures of up to 200°F .
These outdoor hose spigots sometimes come with anti-siphon features. A sort of vacuum breaker to prevent water from seeping back into your house plumbing and the water supply. See the EPA’s details on this for more info.
Things You Can Add to Your Sillcock Faucet
What’s also great about these handy water valves is you can easily add adapters to them.
For example, one popular device is a dual-hose adapter.
This allows you to connect two separate hoses at once. Each hose will have its own manual shutoff valve that’s easy to see and tell when it’s OFF, ON, or somewhere in between.
This is nice if you’re watering the lawn with a manual sprinkler and also want to hand-water your flowers. Or, just keep a spout free and a hose attached at all times.
Got More Hoses?
You can even go a step further and install what’s called a hose spigot manifold. This can give you, say, four different connections for many hoses to be hooked up at one time.
This is multiplying the power of your sillcock for sure. Investing in a 4-way adapter can bring you years of convenience you’ll never want to live without.
With both the dual and manifold hose bibb adapters, you have separate valve controllers for each hose. This way, you can run one or many water hoses at once.
No more having to unscrew and put on different hoses when running many water feeders around your yard.
Water Your Yard Automatically
Yet another option is to install a sprinkling system with an automatic timer directly on your sillcock. This is essentially a digital or dial-type hose timer that goes between the sillcock and your sprinkler hose.
No more having to remember to water or perhaps worse, to go turn off the water!
These nifty timers even come in the manifold form factor so you can attach several hoses, with each on a timer to water your garden completely hands-and mind-free. That’s good stuff.
Finally, if you need a hose spigot extender for your sillcock, these are available as well. Usually these are for free-standing valves not coming through your house’s wall, but they do help if you need to raise things up or make your connections easier to reach.
When Sillcocks Freeze
Sillcocks can be damaged by frost and the cold. Before cold weather comes, be sure to take the basic precautions to protect sillcocks from freezing (or you may be in for repair!).
To protect from frost, disconnect any garden hoses, close indoor shutoff valves if available, and open sillcocks to drain any trapped water.
You can also invest in frost free sillcocks. These special frost proof sillcocks are designed not to break in cold weather, essentially by having a water shutoff valve inside your house where it’s warmer to prevent any water left in the outer portion of the sill cock from freezing.
How much does a plumber charge to replace an outdoor spigot?
As you probably know, plumbers for any repairs aren’t that cheap. A house-call alone is usually at least $60. To replace a sillcock, you’re looking at a bare minimum of $85 and over $100 in areas where the cost of living is higher.
Your best bet is to hire a handyman! The will charge 20-30% less so the range is more like $50-$90 including parts.
How Do I Know if My Sillcock Is Soldered? (vs all one piece)
You can tell if your sillcock has been soldered by looking at the connection to the metal pipe.
Soldered sillcocks will be solidly connected to the metal pipe and will appear welded or discolored.
There is a good chance your sillcock will be soldered. To find out, use a pipe wrench to try and twist off the hose big.
If it won’t budge with considerable pressure, it’s time to get a blow torch and het up the connection point.
At this point, the connection should become loose as the solder underneath melts and gives way to its hold.
This is a very popular installation method because soldering provides a quick and easy way for a plumber to install or replace a hose bib and generally, it’s going to leak less than those installed with a threaded connection.
Why Does My Frost Free Hose Bib Leak?
Generally, frost free hose bibs will leak for two reasons.
First, and most common, the washer that’s found at the end of the faucet stem has probably failed and just needs to be replaced.
The other reason for leaks is that the bib itself was installed improperly and slopes backward.
Frost free hose bibs work by having a longer pipe that reaches farther back into the house.
When the water is turned off, it stops behind the shut-off valve which is farther inside the house to prevent frost.
So proper re-installation will make sure it drains down and out the spigot.
Get more information on installing and maintaining a sillcock over at our outdoor faucet repair page.