Silcock vs. Hose Bib Faucets: What Are The Major Differences?

Silcock vs. Hose Bib

When you start getting into the world of home improvement, you gain a massive vocabulary. You start talking about things like drill bits, thermocouples, and other things that sound all sciencey. When you’re learning about plumbing, you’ll hear terms like “silcock” and “hose bib.” What are these things, and are they the same thing?

Silcocks and hose bibs are almost the exact same thing, to the point that the terms are generally interchangeable. These refer to water faucets that are at the exterior of the house. A hose bib has the valve to the water exposed to the outdoors close to the water source. Silcocks have a longer body with the valve at the end of a long rod. 

For the most part, you can use either term interchangeably, since most people who have installed them will tell you that their effects are similar. However, that doesn’t mean this standard faucet is right for you.

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What Is A Hose Bib?

A hose bib (or Silcock), sometimes spelled as “hose bibb (or sillcock),” is a water faucet that works just like traditional compression valves, and work to pump water to the outside of your home. In other words, it’s a spigot. Modern homes are expected to have at least one of these devices on the side of their home.  This is usually the place that you connect your garden hose during the summertime, ergo, the name.

What Are The Advantages Of A Hose Bib?

The big advantage of a hose bib is that everyone has one. It’s literally the standard on homes, which means they are familiar, they work with most hoses, and people won’t ask you what that weird doohickey is. Moreover, standard hose bibs are fairly affordable and easy to install. This makes them a hit with contractors too.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Hose Bib?

While they are extremely widespread, there are major disadvantages to having a traditional hose bib. While they are affordable, they tend to freeze in cold weather. Freezing is so commonplace, some people even claim that they’ve seen them freeze before the temperature even hit freezing.

What Is A Silcock?

A Silcock is a hose bib, if you want to be casual about it. Most home improvement sites don’t distinguish between the two since the terms are so commonly used interchangeably. When we discuss them in this article, we’re using a very strict definition that involves the nuances of the design.

If you want to get very technical, a silcock a slightly different faucet that has a longer pipe. Silcocks are designed to be slightly more rugged, ideal for areas with very cold climates. Many come with an anti-siphon gizmo that makes their water flow better.

What Are The Advantages Of A Silcock?

Silcocks are meant to drain out the water so that it doesn’t sit in the plumbing. This makes it harder for the water to freeze inside the pipes, and also means you get continued access. To ensure that you get running water, silcocks are also coated with a treatment that prevents freezing in many cases. If you live in North Dakota, then you probably will want to get a silcock upgrade for your home.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Silcock?

Silcocks are not the norm, period. At first glance, this sounds like it is not a big deal, but it is. Certain hose fittings might not work with your spigot, people might make remarks about it, and you might have a hard time finding parts for repairs and replacements. This makes fixing everything a hassle.

Moreover, Silcocks are known for being more involved in terms of installation. So, along with having a harder time getting the parts, the labor may also be higher.

Why Are Hose Bibs Standard On Homes?

Considering that silcocks have a lot more to offer, you might be wondering what the deal is with hose bibs. Why are they so darn popular? The truth is, it’s about the ease of use. More people are interested in hose bibs because they are simple to use and even simpler to install. Silcocks aren’t, and to a point, people find them to be aesthetically unappealing.

Since hose bibs are easier to install, cheaper, and generally more commonplace, they are probably going to continue to be the standard for years to come.

Are There Any Places Where Silcocks Are More Common Than Hose Bibs?

There are. Silcocks that have anti-freezing technology are basically a requirement in areas where the weather remains cold for most of the year. So while people in Florida might never see one of these long-necked spigots, people in areas of Maine, Michigan, and Canada absolutely might see them on the regular.

When Should You Consider Buying A Silcock?

A Silcock is a good investment if you regularly experience water freezes at your hose bib, or if you need to have water at all times of the year. Since traditional hose bibs have a hard time functioning in environments that regularly reach temperatures of 35 degrees or lower, you might want a silcock if your area is usually pretty brisk.

In many cases, people who hire plumbers for issues on their outdoor plumbing will recommend a Silcock if you need it. If you want to get a more solid recommendation, talking to a plumber is a good way to go.

How Much Does Installing A Silcock Cost?

It all depends on what you have around your home already. If you already have the equipment, then it will only cost around $100 to $300. The most you can expect is $325. A full, brand new installation of a freeze-proof silcock will cost a lot more—often in the ballpark of $200 to $500. Since Silcocks are slightly more expensive than other faucet types, you might have to pay a premium price for parts.

In terms of the actual labor, hose bib installation is pretty similar to every other type of plumbing. You should expect to pay your plumber between $40 and $60 per hour, with most plumbers having a one-hour minimum. The job itself, though, can take longer.

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Hose Bob/Silcock Replacement?

That all depends on the circumstances. It may not be a bad idea to talk to your homeowner’s insurance. If your hose bib was damaged due to outside issues, you might be able to file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance and get it covered. Regular wear and tear is never covered by insurance, though!

With that said, if you’re renting and you’re dealing with a damaged spigot, the best thing that you can do is contact your landlord. In most states, your landlord is the one who is liable for damaged property that makes it hard to do daily business.

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Related Questions

How long does it take to replace a hose bib on a house?

If you’re just replacing a standard hose bib rather than upgrading or installing a brand new system, the process shouldn’t take too long. Most projects along this line will take one to two hours of work to do, making it a good day project for people who want to add little upgrades without making it an all-day affair.

Hiring a professional can also help shorten the time it takes to install everything. If you are in a bind and need a new hose bib immediately, hiring a professional is always a good idea.

What is the best way to spell hose bib?

This is actually a regional matter, as is the full name of what you want to call this item on the side of your home. Some call it a Silcock, others a hose bib, still more might just call it a spigot, while others call it a faucet. Since the variations are heavily impacted by the place where you live, there actually isn’t a uniform way to spell (or even name) this part of your home.

A good rule of thumb is that you can usually use one of the three most common names and have most people find it to be correct. The three most common names are hose bib, faucet, and spigot. While Silcock (or sillcock) is still considered to be a proper term for this item, it’s also slightly dated. As a result, younger groups might not understand what you are talking about if you use this term with them.

Is having a water spigot on the side of your house a part of the building code?

Believe it or not, yes. Most states (if not all of them) have a requirement that tells homeowners that they need to have access to water outside their homes. In fact, your home is not considered to be up to code unless you have not one, but two spigots on the side of your home. There is no specific regulation on the type of spigot you need, though, so if you want to stick to a rudimentary one, it’s up to you.

Some areas may require more than two spigots. If you are unsure, ask your housing board.

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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