Outdoor Faucet Only Leaks When Turned On? (We Have A Fix)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

A leaky outdoor faucet is more than an annoyance. It’s a drain on your finances via excess water bills and a potential killer of all the plants you have in your yard. Using an outdoor faucet should mean that you have water when you need it, not when you don’t. Unfortunately, leaks happen and sometimes it’ll only leak when it’s turned on. What’s up with that?

If your outdoor faucet is leaking only when it’s turned on, then the packing nuts that keep it in place may be loose. The easiest way to fix this is to tighten the nuts that hold the faucet to your home and to tighten the connection from the hose to the faucet. If this is not the case, you may have a leak that deals with the actual faucet hardware inside the house.

While it may seem like this stuff is pretty simple and not worthy of concern, the truth is that an unaddressed leak can be a major problem in terms of mold and mildew. This guide will help you avoid that nasty fate.

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Why Does My Faucet Leak Only When It’s Turned On?

We’ve got some good news and bad news for you. The good news is that this usually means you just need to tighten a connection or two that got loose. The bad news is that this can also happen if your faucet fixture broke and needs replacement. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Before you panic, tighten the connection between the hose and the faucet. If you are just dealing with a leaky hose connection, tighten the connect and see if that works.
  • Then, tighten the connection nuts that hold your outdoor spigot in place. This little trick reduces the amount of leakage you will have from the outside on the side of your home to your faucet.
  • If you’re still seeing some leaking, remove the faucet’s stem. Once the stem is removed, work on replacing the packing gasket. Most of the time, you can pick up an outdoor faucet repair kit for your model to make this an easier option.
  • If you notice additional leaking, get a professional to replace and diagnose the faucet leak. If the faucet leak doesn’t seem to be fixed by tightening the nuts that keep it in place, chances are that you may have a leak inside the hole.

Do You Have A Frost-Proof Faucet?

Frost-proof faucets are a little more prone to leaking than other faucets, and much of that deals with the extra parts that come with the faucet. More specifically, you might have a small problem dealing with the faucet’s vacuum breaker. If the vacuum breaker is leaking, you will be able to tell because the leak will be located under the cap while the water is running.

Is Fixing A Leaky Outdoor Faucet A DIY Project?

It depends on the cause of the leak. In many cases, all you need to do is screw the faucet on tighter. However, if you notice water leaking from under the flange of the faucet, you might have a faucet stem leak or a leak inside your home. These issues can be fixable with the right kit and a lot of patience, but truth be told, most people shouldn’t try advanced repairs on their own.

A leaky faucet that has water coming out from the flange or that has stuff pouring out from the sides of the wall has the potential of being caused by more serious issues in and around the home. Along with more difficult fixing procedures, this often requires careful inspection to make sure that the problem doesn’t cause mold inside your home. Call a professional if you have this problem with your hose bib.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Your Outdoor Spigot Replaced?

If you have a leak that cannot be fixed by tightening the nuts that hold the spigot in place, then you probably have to pack the stem. If that doesn’t work, chances are that you need to replace your spigot. Replacing a spigot is a moderately pricey endeavor, professionally speaking.

The typical cost for an outdoor spigot replacement ranges from $150 to $500, depending on the type of spigot that you use as well as the issues at hand. The most affordable spigots to replace are standard hose bibbs, since they only cost $35 apiece.

How Do You Prevent Your Outdoor Faucets From Leaking?

This all depends on the type of leak you have. Not all leaks are preventable. After all, things can loosen up from time to time, and sometimes, there are some factors that just come into play. Aside from keeping your use regular and not jiggling things around, the following moves will help you keep your faucet in working order:

  • Do not leave your faucets on for long periods of time. This might seem a little extra, but wear and tear is a thing. Depending on the temperature outside, prolonged faucet use can actually harm your faucet’s setup.
  • Winterize your outdoor faucets. This includes flushing out any water stored in them, removing any hoses attached to them, and putting a protective cover on them for the duration of the winter season. Once things get warmer, you can remove the cover and attach your hoses.
  • If you have climbing ivy or similar plant life throughout your home, make sure it doesn’t get near your outdoor spigots. Climbing ivy roots and other climbing vines can wedge themselves in the cracks near your walls and spigot, which in turn, can cause damage to your spigot.
  • Keep your spigot rust-free. If you notice that there is an uptick in rust on your spigot, you probably should treat it with a rust removal method. Rust corrodes your spigot and eats away at all the inner workings that keep your spigot leak-free. Ideally, you won’t have a spigot that leaks, but let’s be real. We can’t always replace things at a drop of a hat.
  • Keep an eye on sudden dips in temperature. Regular outdoor spigots start to freeze up around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and frost-proof hose bibbs will freeze at a slightly lower temperature. Knowing this, it’s easy to see why winterizing your spigots is important, but don’t stop there. If you have a freak snowstorm in July, react accordingly.
  • Get a freeze-proof outdoor spigot if you live in a cold area. While they have more ways to fail, they also happen to be more resilient during the winter. The damage that can come from freezing is a lot more of a risk than actually having the freeze-proof equipment inside the spigot failing.

How Often Should You Expect To Replace Your Outdoor Spigot?

The good news is that you probably don’t have to worry too much when it comes to setting aside money to replace a spigot. A spigot will last for decades. Most of the spigots in your home’s exterior should be able to last between 15 to 30 years. Saying that they are durable is a bit of an understatement.

With that said, most hose bibbs do not come with a specific warranty or guarantee. If you have a more specialized outdoor spigot, you might have a warranty to refer to. While that may be the case, this is usually just a one-time cost.

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Related Questions

Is your house required to have an outdoor spigot?

Believe it or not, national building codes require not one, but two outdoor spigots on the side of your home in order for it to be deemed livable. Outdoor sources of water are important because they can help irrigate your home, flush out fires, and also give you access to water in the event of an emergency. Besides, it’s a staple of modern home design, don’t you think?

What is the standard size for an outdoor water faucet?

There are actually two standard sizes that can be found in homes throughout the country. The most common sizes for an outdoor spigot’s pipe diameter are 1/2 inch and 3/4 of an inch. Which one is right for you is up to you to decide. The larger the pipe diameter, the lower the water pressure will be.Because most people like to have a fairly high water pressure reading on their garden hoses, the more common of the two “standards” is the 1/2 inch pipe. However, both 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch pipes are considered to be standard fare among home improvement gurus.

What is the standard garden hose fitting in the United States?

The most common garden hose fitting in America is a 3/4 inch GHT fitting, which can be easily obtained from the Home Depot if you don’t have one. Gardeners can choose to use a brass or plastic fitting to connect the hose connector to the faucet.Most garden hoses come with a fitting pre-included in their package, giving them a “plug and play” advantage. So if you are not sure whether or not your hose will work with a certain fitting, just use the one that was included with it.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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