Do You Have Outside Spigots Leaking? Here’s Why!

Common reasons for an outdoor spigot to leak include a worn-out or damaged washer within the spigot's handle, a loose or deteriorated packing nut, and freezing temperatures causing cracks or splits in the spigot's pipe. When the washer or packing nut deteriorates, it fails to create a watertight seal, resulting in leaks. Freezing temperatures can lead to pipe damage, causing water to escape through cracks or holes when the spigot is in use.

A rising water bill is a cause for concern to any Indianapolis homeowner. With outside spigots leaking, water waste continues all day, causing your water meter to run around the clock. Unfortunately, when outdoor faucet leaks occur, they often go unnoticed because they are out of sight and out of mind – the outdoor spigot has likely leaked for quite some time before you even notice.

Resolve outdoor spigot leaks to conserve water, protect hose bibbs, and ultimately save money. Our Indianapolis plumbers are here to assist you. We get to work to fix leaking outdoor faucet issues, replace worn components like a packing nut or faucet washer, or replace the entire fixture with a replacement spigot or freeze-proof faucet when necessary.

About Outdoor Faucet Problems

There are spigots located on the exterior of your home that allow you to attach a garden hose or other attachment to your home’s water source. Outdoor spigots are also called hose bibbs. Just like a faucet handle inside your home, from time to time, you may find a leaky outdoor faucet.

Even an outdoor faucet leaking slowly is cause for concern. Slow drips are responsible for hundreds of gallons of water wasted each year.

  • A home with two outdoor faucet leak issues at a slow drip of 20 drips per minute tally up to 57,600 drips of water wasted per day.
  • 57,600 drips of water per day equals 5 gallons of water wasted every day through a leaky spigot.
  • Over the course of a single year in this home, outdoor faucet leaks result in 1,851 gallons of water wasted.

With rising utility costs throughout Indianapolis, including water utility prices, this significant excess water consumption has the potential to cost you quite a bit of money over the course of a year. In most cases, a call to a plumber for outdoor faucet repair is the cheaper option.

Damage Caused by a Leaking Outdoor Faucet

Obviously, water waste from a leaking outdoor faucet is a big deal. But unfortunately, this isn’t the only problem hose bibb leaks are able to cause. Unchecked, a leaky faucet outside can lead to serious issues such as:

  • Foundation Damage
  • Water Backup Into Your Home
  • Mold and Mildew Growth

Causes of Outside Spigots Leaking

A leaking hose bib or exterior faucet is typically caused by a malfunction that arises over time or due to damage of some sort. Causes of outside spigots leaking include:

  • Loose Packing Nut in Faucet Stem
  • Worn Washer in the Spigot Assemblies
  • Frost Damage From Pipe Freezes

Outside faucet leaks aren’t necessarily caused by issues in the faucet head, but within the pipes that supply them. These pipes need to be shut off at the water shut-off valve and remaining water drained prior to the winter to ice forming within during periods of freezing temperatures and the damage that results. If frozen water forms in the supply pipes of an outdoor spigot, the first time you turn it on in the spring, water may drip from the exterior wall surrounding the spigot. It could also be dripping within your home.

DIY Fix for Outside Leaky Faucet Problems

Before you call our Indianapolis plumbers for a leaky outdoor faucet, there are some do-it-yourself steps to take that often fix a leaky faucet. Often, leaks in an outdoor faucet are caused by a packing nut that is loose. Tightening the packing nut or replacing the packing nut yourself to see if the leak is resolved may be enough to fix a leaky outdoor faucet.

  1. Locate the packing nut on your outside spigot – it is located just behind the handle.
  2. Use a pair of pliers that are adjustable and fit them around the packing nut.
  3. Give the packing nut a tightening of about an eighth to a quarter of a full turn to tighten.

If this DIY troubleshooting step does not resolve the leak, outdoor faucet repair is more complicated. Experienced DIYers may feel comfortable performing these fixes but if you don’t, give us a call to repair your outside spigots leaking.

The worn-out washers inside of the faucet stem could be causing the leak, which prevents it from stopping water drips. The washer assembly needs to be replaced.

  1. Turn off water to the home at the shutoff valve.
  2. Simply unscrew the packing nut found behind the handle with an adjustable wrench, turning the part on the spigot counterclockwise.
  3. Remove the valve stem packing, gaining access to the washer assembly.
  4. Remove the screw holding the worn-out washer into place.
  5. Replace with a new washer – make sure you have the same size, thickness and diameter for your spigot. A new washer can be obtained from your local hardware store.
  6. Replace the screw that holds the washer.
  7. Reinsert the valve stem into the faucet assembly.
  8. Retighten the retaining nut on the faucet handle until it is snug.
  9. Turn the water main back on and check that outside spigots leaking are no more.

Make sure you reassemble the spigot in the correct order or else new problems beyond outside spigots leaking are bound to arise. If these actions don’t fix a leaky faucet, the issue may be caused by damage to the old pipe or spigot.

Frost Proof Leaky Outdoor Faucet Issues

A number of Indianapolis homeowners choose to install frost-proof faucet fixtures outdoors. While typical outdoor faucets are prone to freezing and should be shut off at the shutoff valve and drained during the winter to prevent damage due to low temperatures, frost-proof faucets are a great upgrade for an old spigot.

Frost-proof outdoor spigots have a long stem, unlike a regular spigot. This keeps water shut off closer to the home’s interior where it is warm. Water flow drains out of the spigot so it does not freeze in the line where it causes damage. Even so, garden hoses must be disconnected for a frost-proof spigot to be protected.

Frost-proof spigots also have a component called an anti-siphon device. These are required in newer model frost-proof spigots. The anti-siphon device protects your home’s potable water system from possible contamination. A cracked vacuum breaker cap can cause the frost-free faucet to leak water supply. If the vacuum breaker cap is damaged, it will not form a water-tight seal, which can allow water to escape the hose bib. To fix the leaky outdoor faucet, this component can typically be replaced.

Outdoor Water Leaks in Pipes

A leaky outdoor faucet is a common cause of outdoor water leaks, but it is not the only cause of leaks you need to be worried about. Water pipes run through your yard up to your home to transport water in from a municipal source or well, running into your home at the meter. Common locations for outdoor leaks in these lines include at fittings and near the shutoff valve.

Some homes are also outfitted with buried irrigation systems for landscaping, which are susceptible to underground leaks. Irrigation system leaks are typically found in the piping between the irrigation valve box and the backflow prevention device, or a leak may stem from a malfunction in a valve located within the irrigation valve box.

Leaks in these pipes often go undetected for quite some time and also cause serious water wastage. Often, a higher-than-normal water bill is the first indication a homeowner receives that there is an unseen leak.

Causes of damage to underground outdoor pipes that result in leaks may include:

  • Old Piping
  • Defective Piping
  • Improper Piping Installation
  • Damage From Temperature Extremes, Especially Cold Temperatures

Hunt for the signs of an underground outdoor water leak through the following steps:

Check Your Water Meter

Turn off your home’s water main to shut off water to the entire house. Take a look at the meter – if it is still moving, there is an outdoor leak in the piping that runs between the valve and the meter. You may also take a reading of your water meter immediately, do not use any water, and wait one to two hours, then take a second reading – if there are changes between these two-meter readings, there is an outdoor leak.

Check Your Yard

Look around your yard for signs that indicate an underground water leak. These include:

  • Areas that are now wet but typically are not. They may feel soggy or even have pools of surface water.
  • Spots in the yard that are unusually soft, green, mossy, or even moldy. If a water leak is below, the suspect area is typically surrounded by drier conditions.
  • Potholes or sink holes in your yard.
  • Irrigated areas of the yard that have suddenly browned and are dying when they were formerly lush.
  • Cracked or sagging patio, sidewalk, or driveway pavement.

Check Your Home

If there is an outdoor water leak, sometimes signs are present within the home, or with the home itself. Look for the following symptoms that point to an outdoor water leak:

  • Rust or Dirt in the Water That Comes From Taps Inside the Home
  • An Unexpected Drop in Water Pressure or Flow Volume
  • Uneven Flooring Grades
  • A Leaning Structure


Underground water leaks may also result in unusual noises coming from your water pipes.

  • Splashing or babbling water sounds occur as water spray hits against the side walls of a soil cavity below ground.

  • You may hear a clinking noise, which is caused by small stones striking against the water pipes.

  • In piping with water pressure at or greater than 30 PSI, a whooshing or hissing sound occurs as orifice pressure reduces, or the noise can occur due to vibrations in the pipes.

Call a Plumber for Help with Outside Spigots Leaking

If you have outside spigots leaking or suspect another underground outdoor water leak, a plumber is your best bet for a quick resolution with as little water waste and damage done as possible. Mr. Plumber of Indianapolis is an expert in outdoor leak detection plumbing services. We find the source of the issue and make quick repairs to spare you from damage and outrageous water bills.

For plumbing services in Indianapolis to fix outside spigots leaking or other outdoor leak issues, request service from Mr. Plumber today.

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