Frost-Proof Woodford Faucets: How They Work, What You Need to Know, and When to Get a Woodford Repair Kit
Aug 6th 2022
Some of your clients may have Woodford faucets and hydrants installed on their premises. If so, it’s likely that some of them may have frost-proof faucets.
It is a term - and a design - that is not uncommon in the industry.
However, it is far from foolproof, and there are certain factors (some of them user error) that can counteract the effective design of a frost-proof Woodford faucet.
Here’s what you should know about how frost-proof faucets work, what can cause failures, and where you can get a Woodford repair kit if you have no other option.
How a Frost-Proof Faucet Works: Correct Installation Is Required
Frost-proof Woodford faucets feature a unique design, with a shut-off valve that is several inches up the pipe, away from the sillcock and inside the walls of the home or building where it is protected from the elements.
When the valve is opened, water can flow along the pipe and out of the faucet. Shutting the valve allows it to drain fully, shutting off the water supply and preventing water from being trapped within the faucet and in contact with the elements.
However, correct installation is absolutely imperative to ensuring that a frost-proof faucet functions as intended.
Specifically, a frost-proof faucet, either a Woodford design or featuring the same basic configuration, needs to be installed with a slight downward pitch. It is this feature that harnesses the power of gravity to pull remaining water out of the fixture, preventing it from being trapped and pooling.
If a frost-proof faucet is installed at an upward pitch, water will gather in the tube and expand upon experiencing freezing conditions, which can cause the pipe to burst or the valve to fail.
Important: Never Leave a Hose Attached to a Frost-Proof Faucet
It is equally important to remember that Woodford frost-proof faucets are also not designed for continuous use applications and that best practices are to remove any attachments from the faucet when not in use.
At the very least, all attached hoses must be removed before the faucet encounters freezing temperatures. If a hose is allowed to remain attached to the faucet, water may accumulate in the hose and will not be able to drain.
Consequently, it can back up in the faucet and against the internal valve. If this occurs, and water becomes trapped in the fixture, upon exposure to freezing temperatures, first the hose will freeze, and then ice will creep up the hose and into the faucet itself. Damage is likely to occur in these scenarios.
If you installl a Woodford frost-proof faucet for any of your customers, make sure you drive home the point that after use, all hoses and other attachments must be removed for the faucet to work as intended. Otherwise, frost damage can still occur.
It Can Take a While to Discover the Problem
The nature of the frost-proof faucet can make it very difficult to determine when frost-damage occurs, because if a pipe does split, it may break behind the walls.
Also, since the pipe is likely to burst in between the actually faucet head and the valve, which is hidden, the break will likely not be noticed until the water is turned on again in the spring. If this happens, it can incur property damage, not to mention the delay in discovery can correspond to a delay in repairs.
Correct Installation and Customer Education Are Key
There are only two legitimate reasons that a Woodford frost-proof faucet can fail, as detailed here.
One is that the faucet was installed incorrectly, at a slightly upward angle that prevents drainage. That’s on the person that installs the faucet, who may even have been a plumbing professional. For your part, and for the sake of your customers, be conscientious about your installation.
The other reason for failures has to do with user error, which you as a trusted service provider may be able to forestall by educating your customers. When you do install a frost-proof faucet, be sure you belabor the advice you give your customers to remove all hoses after use and never to leave an attachment or obstruction on the faucet when freezing temperatures are expected.
Need a Woodford Repair Kit?
While Woodford faucets and hydrants are engineered to exhibit a high level of quality and performance, they are frost-proof, not user proof. Mistakes happen and equipment can fail. Sometimes the only thing you can do is repair a broken piece of equipment and move on.
If you’re called to a job site and need to repair a Woodford model faucet or hydrant and need an official, genuine Woodford repair kit, we have you covered.
Take a look through our repair kits and let us know if you need help finding a specific part before you’re called to make repairs. We’ll help ensure you’re prepared.