Posts tagged ‘Leaky Hose Spigot’

How to prepare you home for colder temperatures


Frost covered leaves

There is cold weather coming and there’s no way of stopping it. In fact we’ve already  hit lows in the 30’s and its only the middle of September. You can curse and grumble all you want but the reality is summer has come and gone. Now is the time to start getting your home ready to take on the cold Minnesota winter. Here are  a few easy tips to help combat the effects of winter on your home.

1) Drain your outside faucet

When the temps are consistently reaching the freezing mark at night you need to drain your outside faucet line. Doing this prevents your water line that supplies your outside faucet from freezing and bursting during the cold winter months. Most outside faucets should have a shut-off valve inside on the water supply line. It will look something like the valve pictured below. Start by getting a bucket to catch the water. Shut the valve off supplying the water to the outside faucet. Next go and open up the outside spigot to prevent an airlock in the line. Then go inside and unscrew the small brass drain cap located on the side of the valve being very careful not to lose the cap. When it’s done draining PUT THE CAP BACK ON. If you lose the cap you are going to be kicking yourself when spring arrives. You can purchase new caps for most valves but not every manufacturer makes the same. For more info check out these other blogs: How to prevent an outside faucet from freezing, What’s the deal with backflow preventors for outside faucets and What to do for frozen pipes

Brass ball valve with drain

2) Make sure all gaps and cracks are filled around your home

You should go around your home and do a visual check of your window and door casements, and your foundation to make sure there are no cracks for cold or uninvited guests to get in. Use an all-weather window and door caulking. I like to use a caulk that’s 100% silicone like GE Silicone II supreme. It stays flexible and is rain ready in about 1 hours time. You should also patch any cracks and holes in your foundation to prevent critters from entering your home as well as preventing heat loss. Unwanted guests of all kinds including insects and mice are going to be looking for somewhere warm to spend the winter. Don’t let it be your home. For more info on getting rid of unwanted guests check out these blogs: How to get rid of mice, how to get rid of ants in and around your home

Seal all cracks in windows doors and foundations

3) Replace weather seals around windows and doors

Check the seals around your windows and doors to make sure the weather-stripping is still in good shape. Caulking the casement helps but you also need to make sure the seals on the windows/doors are doing what they’re supposed to. It gets a little more difficult when replacing the seals on windows and doors because every manufacturer has their own specific seal that fits only their product. You can use a generic adhesive backed foam in place of what was there but if want the best seal you need to go back to the manufacturer. For more info on insulating your home check out this blog: How to save money by insulating your home

adhesive backed foam tape

4)Prevent frozen sump pump lines and damage from ice dams.

Take advantage of the still bearable weather to install heat tape to your sump pump line and to your roof and gutters. We all know about the remarkable amount of snow we received last year. People all over the U.S. were dealing with ice dams and the Twin cities area was no exception. Now is the time to install roof de-icing cables, before there’s snow and ice present. If you had problems with ice dams last year you should purchase and install cables on your roof or at least in the gutters to keep the water flowing off your roof instead of in your home. 

If you have a sump pump that is constantly running even through the cold winter months they’re aren’t a lot of options that meet code. One non-code option is to run the line into a floor drain or work sink. Remember this is not an option that is code. In order to solve the issue and still be up to code you need to find a way of keeping your line from freezing. Try using a water proof heat cable inside the sump line to keep the water flowing.

For more info on roof dams and frozen sump lines check out these blogs: Roof de-icing tablets, Roof de-icing cables, Get a roof rake to prevent an ice dam, how to prevent an ice dam on your roof, what to do for a frozen sump pump discharge line,

 For more information on what to do for your house before the

snow flies call us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove MN 55369

Visit us on the web at levahnbros.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/levahnbrothers

How to prevent an outside faucet from freezing


Frozen outside faucet tap

Frozen pipes in the winter time aren’t anything new to plumbers in Minnesota. We see this issue arise every fall around these parts. The problem with a dripping outside faucet in the winter isn’t the massive ice rink that can form under the tap, it’s the possibility of the pipes freezing and bursting.

When you have an outside faucet that is dripping it indicates that either you don’t have an interior shut off valve or that the valve is failing. Every fall, when it gets cold enough to freeze, the homeowner should shut off and drain the water going to the outside water spigots.

If you have a drip coming from the outside faucet even when the internal shut off is closed, you have the potential of having pipes freeze and burst during the cold winter months. You need to have the problem valve addressed by having it repaired or replaced.

To repair this internal shut-off valve you need to shut the water off to the whole house.  When repairing the valve be aware that they are factory sealed and are not easy to take apart. Make sure to be careful when attempting to take them apart so that you don’t put too much stress on the solder joints. Use two wrenches in opposite directions holding on to the body of the valve and the section that you are attempting to remove. Make sure to grab the hex shaped spot below the packing nut. Removing the packing nut won’t get you to the washer you need to replace.

Some valves do not take washers and therefore you cannot repair them. If you have a washerless shut-off valve that leaks it will need to be replaced. You will need: a propane torch, solder, flux, sandcloth, a wire fitting brush, a small section of copper pipe (most likely 3/4″ I.D.), a slip coupling (again probably 3/4″) and a shut-off valve. I would highly recommend installing a ball valve with a drain on it as opposed to a washer style valve. If you purchase a decent quality ball valve it will last a very long time.

Note: If you do not feel comfortable soldering, then do not attempt this.

To replace it you need to first shut off the main water and cut out the old valve. To cut out the valve use a copper tubing cutter and cut the copper piping near the valve. Next, you will  have to solder the new valve to a small section of copper piping. Make sure that when you are soldering the valve that it is in the open position. Measure the space and cut the copper tubing to size. Next, solder the valve to the existing pipe making sure that the drain that is on the valve is on the outside wall side and not the house side of the piping. Finally, slide on the slip coupling and solder that into place to both the new pipe and the old pipe.

Not all faucets  have or even need interior shut-off valves. If your valve is a “frost-free” style of valve then you wouldn’t need a shut off inside. Frost free valves are a style of valve in which the water shut off for the valve is located internally in the valve inside the house. The use of a frost-free valve is best suited for locations in which an internal shut off valve is inaccessible such as a location where the walls and ceilings are all finished. This style faucet can leak over time. If you have a frost-free valve that is leaking you will need to replace the washers internally on the valve to prevent the valve from freezing and bursting.

Mansfield Frost-Free Valve

Make sure that you do preventative maintenance on all of your outside faucets to prevent a very cold, wet, and costly problem down the road. Paying to have a plumber replace a faulty valve will cost you significantly less than having to pay for emergency plumbing service work when you have a pipe freeze and break in the middle of the night.

Pipe Heat Tape

Another option for helping prevent an outside faucet from freezing would be to add a section of heat tape to the pipe. Heat tape is a cable that you wrap around the problematic pipe to help prevent it from freezing. It comes in varying lengths and you can plug it in and unplug it when needed. It is a cost-effective option that does work. Simply wrap the heat tape around the pipe, cover it with fiberglass pipe insulation and plug it in. This can also be used to help thaw already frozen pipes, although it does work better as a preventative measure.

For more info on frozen pipes check out this post on frozen pipes

For more info on valves check out this post on frost-free outdoor spigots

For all questions call 763-551-8990

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at levahnbros.com

Check us out on Facebook and “like” us

How to get your home ready for winter



1. PREVENT FROZEN PIPES. THE COPPER PIPING THAT GOES TO YOUR OUTSIDE HOSE SPIGOT CAN FREEZE AND BURST IN THE WINTER IF IT HAS WATER STILL PRESENT INSIDE OF IT. YOU NEED TO DRAIN THE WATER OUT OF THE LINE TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING. THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IF YOUR HOSE SPIGOTS ARE NOT THE FROST-FREE STYLE OF SPIGOT( to learn more about frost-free hose spigots check out this post: leaky hose spigots

Ball valve shut off with drain

TO DO THIS YOU NEED TO FIRST SHUT OFF THE WATER GOING TO YOUR OUTSIDE HOSE SPIGOT. IF POSSIBLE DRAIN WATER FROM THE LINES GOING TO THE OUTSIDE. MANY SHUT-OFFS USED FOR HOSE SPIGOTS HAVE A DRAIN VALVE ON THEM TO DO THIS. LASTLY, TO HELP INSURE THAT THE SPIGOT WON’T FREEZE YOU CAN INSTALL AN INSULATED HOSE SPIGOT COVER OVER THE TOP ON OF THE SPIGOT.

2. SEAL UP YOUR HOUSE FROM DRAFTS. CAULK AROUND WINDOWS AND DOORS. REPLACE WORN OR MISSING WEATHER STRIPPING. REPAIR WINDOWS THAT ARE CRACKED. SEAL-UP THE HOUSE WITH WINDOW AND DOOR INSULATION KITS. INSTALL OUTLET AND SWITCH SEALS ON OUTSIDE WALLS TO PREVENT DRAFTS FROM ENTERING. (For more ideas on how to seal up your home from drafts and save on your heating check out this blog: insulate your home from drafts

3. PREVENT ICE DAMNS. CLEAN OUT LEAVES FROM GUTTERS TO ALLOW THEM TO FLOW FREELY. INSTALL HEAT CABLE ON YOUR ROOF AND IN YOUR GUTTERS TO MELT AWAY ICE DAMNS THAT FORM IN THE SPRING. (For more info on what to do for ice dams and installing heat cable check out this blog:  Ice Dams

4. CHECK YOUR HOMES HEATING SYSTEM. TEST YOUR HOMES HEATING SYSTEM TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS RUNNING PROPERLY. REPLACE FURNACE FILTERS WHEN THEY GET DIRTY OR AT LEAST EVERY 3 MONTHS. REPLACE YOUR WHOLE HOUSE HUMIDIFIER FILTER. HIRE A COMPANY TO COME OUT AND CLEAN YOUR FURNACE AND DO A TUNE-UP IF NEEDED TO ENSURE YOU DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WHEN YOU REALLY NEED HEAT.

5. CLEAN YOUR SCREENS AND WINDOWS. BEFORE IT GETS TO COLD TO DO SO, CLEAN OFF YOUR WINDOWS. REMOVE, CLEAN AND STORE SCREENS FOR THE WINTER. REPAIR ANY SCREENS THAT ARE TORN OR WORN OUT. REPLACE THE GLASS ON ANY WINDOWS THAT ARE CRACKED OR BROKEN. (or you can bring your screens and windows in to LeVahn Brothers Hardware for repair).

For more information call us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at levahnbros.com

Check us out on Facebook and “like” us

What’s the deal with Back Flow Preventors for Outside Faucets?


  Back Flow preventers that are commonly seen on outdoor spigots

So what is that thing that is at the end of your hose spigot that’s leaking water all over?

Back Flow preventers are devices that are often times added on to the end of a hose spigot. The purpose of a back flow preventor on a garden hose spigot is to prevent tainted water from entering the drinking water system. Let me explain it like this: If your neighbors house is on fire and there are firemen using fire hoses to put it out, the amount back pressure needed could actually suck the dirty water out of the bucket your using to wash your car. If there was no back flow preventor on the line our clean drinking water could be compromised. That is why they have made it code in the state of Minnesota to have a back flow preventor on your hose spigot.

All of this makes sense and seems logical. What isn’t logical and does not make sense is the fact that most of the time a back flow preventor is put on in a way that it’s not meant to be taken off again. This makes it very difficult to repair or replace a back flow preventor when they start to fail. Like most things in this world a back flow preventor will break down over time. It will either start leaking or in some cases it won’t let water even through the hose spigot at all.

In most situations back flow preventers can’t be repaired. There are dozens of manufacturers that make back flow preventers and unfortunately each of them is unique. The same company can have a variety of different models. Because things are so unique there isn’t many parts available to repair them. This means that in most cases you need to actually remove the whole valve and replace it. I say the “whole valve” because in many cases when attempting to remove the back flow preventor only a portion of it comes off.

When attempting to remove the back flow preventor make sure that you have any set screws removed that may be holding it in place. Also if you are going to use a wrench make sure that you have a second wrench on the spigot itself so that you are not putting too much pressure on the solder joints in the wall. The last thing you want to do is to break a pipe in the wall and have a flood inside the house.

Mansfield Frost Free Anti-Syphon valve

If worse comes to worse (which is often the case with plumbing jobs) and you need to replace the valve because you cannot remove the leaking back flow preventor, make sure to call a professional to replace it (for instance you can contact us. Call 763-551-8990 or check us out at http://www.levahnbros.com/plumbing.html ) You may also want to consider putting in a different style valve. For instance Mansfield makes a valve that has the back flow preventor already installed internally in the valve itself. Best of all you can purchase replacement parts if the Mansfield valve fails. It’s a great valve that also serves the purpose of being a “Frost Free” valve. This means that the shut off for the valve is found at the back of the valve which is located inside your house. Having the shut off inside the house means that there is less of a chance of your hose spigot freezing and bursting in the cold.

You may also want to check out these posts related to hose spigots and frozen pipes:

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/leaky-hose-spigot/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/frozen-pipes/

For more information on what to do or for product info/purchase come in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove Minnesota

Visit us on the web at http://www.levahnbros.com

Leaky dripping hose spigots and frost free faucets



Every spring we get inundated with requests to repair lawn faucets (also known as hose bibbs, hose spigots, or sillcocks). There are a multitude of issues that occur with these valves. The most common issue is that the valve won’t turn off completely. Other issues include broken handles, frozen/burst piping behind the valve and dripping coming from the valves handle. There are a number of different styles of lawn faucets out on the market and with each valve comes a different way to fix the problem.

First you need to diagnose the problem (if it’s leaking you need to find out where it’s coming from). Next you need to figure out which kind of lawn faucet that you’re dealing with. The most common valve style we see is the style to the left. Inside the valve there is a stem that travels up and down with a washer on the bottom of it. It shuts the water off by seating the washer up against the brass body on the inside the valve. This valve is the most common because it is the least expensive for a contractor to install.

To fix a drip that is coming out of the spigot (in other words, your valve won’t shut off) you need to replace the washer inside the valve. To do this you need to take the valve “stem” out of the valve body. Make sure that you have 2 wrenches for this. You need one wrench to hold the body of the valve and another to turn out the stem. If you only use one wrench and crank on the valve body you could potentially break the solder joint that is between the valve and the copper supply. This would result in a much larger problem for you. Take the stem with you to the hardware store and replace the washer with the largest washer that will fit into the housing on the stem (note: you probably will have a hard time finding an exact match that fits perfectly snug into the housing. As long as it is large enough to seat against the valve body it doesn’t need to fit perfectly).

Another common problem for this style of valve is that it will drip from the handle. This is due to the failure of the packing that keeps water from coming up through the stem. Often times you will see a white or green crusty deposit around the stem. This occurs when water slowly leaks out and the mineral deposits calcify. To repair this you should first try tightening the packing nut. Often times it works its way loose over time due to the turning of the valve on and off. Sometimes tightening doesn’t solve the problem. To repair this issue you need to add graphite string packing (shown on the left) under the packing nut. The packing nut is the nut located directly at the bottom of the stem under the handle of the valve. It’s easiest to remove the handle first then loosen the packing nut. Do not remove the packing that is already in place. Take a small piece of graphite string packing (found at LeVahn bros. Hardware) and wrap it around the stem and tighten down packing nut. This should solve the problem.

Unfortunately if either of these methods to fix your valve doesn’t work there are no other parts available to repair this style valve. If this is the case replacement is the only option. If this is the case hiring a professional plumber (like the plumbers at LeVahn Brothers) is the best option. Replacement usually involves having to cut the 3/4″ copper supply on the inside of the house. Do not attempt to unsolder the valve from the pipe on the outside of your house. The valve is generally too close to the house to unsolder safely. When replacing the valve it is best to go with a different style (such as a 1/4 turn ball valve or frost free valve) that may cost a fraction more to start with but will save you the cost of a plumber in the future.

Another common lawn faucet is the “frost free” style valve. This valve is a better valve in terms of function and repair. This valves purpose is to prevent the pipe supplying the valve from freezing and bursting during the cold winter months. It works by shutting off the water going to the valve back further in the wall as opposed to outside the house. These faucets will eventually fail just like the cheaper ones talked about above. The difference is the accessibility of parts for repairing this style valve. When purchasing this style valve make sure that the place of purchase has the parts needed to repair the valve when it fails. Some inexpensive versions of this valve don’t have replacement parts and will leave you with no other options besides replacement of the valve.

Another common issue is the valve leaks or doesn’t work due to the back-flo preventor. A back-flo preventor can be part of the valve Like the frost free valve pictured above) or it can be installed on the valve (like the valve to the left). The back-flo preventor is required by code in Minnesota. It’s purpose is to prevent contamination of our drinking water due to water being siphoned back into the system.

In most cases the back-flo preventor is attached to to the valve and a screw is turned until it breaks off (thus securing the back-flo preventor to the valve so that nobody steals it). However this also prevents the back-flo preventor from being removed when it fails. When the back-flo preventor is attached in this way and it is failing your only options are to try and drill out the screw (without ruining the thread on the valve) or to start from scratch and replace the whole valve.

When replacing your valve with a new valve your best option is to go with a frost free sillcock that has a back-flo preventor already incorporated in the valve. Your next best option is to replace it with a 1/4 turn ball valve (pictured on the right). This style valve has less problems across the board. It has a stainless steel ball that shuts the water on and off. Because of this there are no washers to replace. It also does not have a packing nut that will leak over time. This valve should last you a lot longer than other styles. However, if there are any issues that happen to arise the only option for this valve is replacement.

For more questions on this or any other plumbing or hardware issue contact LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware. You can call us at 763-553-1222

Email question to andy@levahnbros.com
Stop in to our store located at 12700 Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove, MN 55369
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