You’ve raked the leaves.  You’ve covered the lawn furniture.  You’ve stored your lawn mower.  Your home exterior winter checklist is complete.  Or is it?

If you have not unhooked your garden hoses, you are asking for trouble.  During winter, the residual water left in the hoses can freeze, turning the water into ice (ice takes up 10% more space than liquid water).  That excess pressure can cause the pipes inside your house to crack.  That could lead to lots of damage and expense.  Avoid that by following these three simple steps.

  1. Disconnect your hoses.  This will make them last longer, protect them from the elements, and make them less likely to develop splits. And do not let them sit outside.  Store them someplace warm like a storage shed or garage.
  2. If your hose faucets are the “frost-free” type, there is nothing more to do.  Otherwise…
  3. Close the shut off valve for your outside faucets.  This valve is generally located inside your house (note: this is different from your main water shut off).
  4. Drain the faucet.  Even after you shut off the water and remove the hose, there will be some residual water left in the faucet.  That little amount of water can still freeze and break both the faucet and the shut off valve.  So turn on the faucet and let that residual water escape.

For extra protection, you can also insulate your pipes.  And when spring comes, inspect your outdoor fixtures for leaks even if you have taken all the necessary precautions.