Learn how to replace a hose bib the easy way. No soldering or fancy tools needed, and no need to pay someone to do it for you!
Did my hose bib survive the winter? Let’s turn it on and find out!
It’s one of the classic Rites of Spring along with will my lawnmower start?, what new species of weed is this?, and how much dog poop survived the winter and is waiting to be scooped?
When we moved into this house in late spring of 2020, I had the pleasure of meeting this unruly and ill-tempered hose bib. Its old-timey blue handle was spackled with white paint or possibly bird shit. I considered either option equally likely. The spigot jutted from the house as if eager to escape its cramped quarters in a lonely corner of the front garden. But worst of all, at some point, someone had welded (or in some other way, made permanent) the gold-ish attachment to the main bib which served no purpose (as far as I could tell) other than spraying and soaking the hapless schlub tasked with turning on the spigot. This schlub learned his lesson the hard way after hooking up my hose and naively thinking I’d soon be watering my plants. The moment I twisted the blue wheel of misfortune, I was violently sprayed about the head, neck and chest with a cool, chlorinated blast of nourishing city water.
I closed the spigot (in itself a creaky and precarious proposition) and tried removing the mysterious golden protuberance with my middle-aged and weakening hands.
I tried again with vice-grip pliers. Surely the unwelcome hose-bib parasite would yield to the mighty power of hardened steel!
It really had been welded on! I let out a stream of sailor talk and threw my head back so I could bellow to the clouds.
Why? Why do people do stupid things like this? Why??
I wiped the bleach-scented water from my face and stormed away muttering indelicate phrases while my eye twitched with fury.
Spray me in the face, will you? I mumbled.
Welded, are you? I grumbled.
We’ll see about THAT! I promised.
I ran to my car and hightailed it to Home Depot. Fixing was off the table. This called for a full-on hose bib replacement.
How to Replace a Hose Bib
(Note: it’s actually spelled “bibb,” but since I’m not only writing this tutorial for you, dear TNP reader, but also for the wandering searchers of Google, I’m spelling it the way it’s most-commonly searched. In fact, according to my search-engine sources, basically no one on earth searches for “hose bibb.”)
When I was younger and dumber, I once paid someone more than I care to admit to replace a hose bib that was all loosey-goosey outside the house. What a complicated affair it was with all the soldering! I filed the experience away and vowed that if I ever needed to replace another hose bib, I’d do it myself, and I’d find a better way.
And so I did. Have you heard of SharkBite? These are the guys who figured out a way to make plumbing easy.
Here’s all it needed.
Supplies to replace a hose bib
- 2-foot length of 1/2″ copper pipe (you may need more or less, but Home Depot sells 2-foot lengths for under $6. You may also have 3/4 inch pipe, so verify before purchasing.)
- 1/2 inch SharkBite hose bib (I’m a big fan of 1/4-turn spigots as opposed to the turn-and-turn-and-turn variety of yesteryear, but if you like wrist workouts, by all means, buy the old-timey type.)
- 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch SharkBite straight coupling
- Mini pipe cutter
- Outdoor caulk (optional)
Since this particular spigot was in the front of the house, I had to climb up on a ladder in the basement to access its entry point into the house. When I replace the backyard hose spigot later this spring, it’ll be a much easier affair, since the basement is walk-out back there.
Anyway, before doing anything, I turned off the water to this spigot. Every outdoor spigot has a shut-off valve somewhere just inside the house. It should go without saying that you shut it off before starting a job like this. Then again, I’m sure American hospital beds are peppered with dingbats who embarked upon electrical repairs without first de-energizing the work site.
So, in the interest of keeping yourself dry and warm, please turn off the water to the spigot before attempting to replace a hose bib.
Anyway, I cut the pipe about halfway between the joist and the 90-degree elbow. These mini pipe cutters are amazing for this sort of work. Just make sure you don’t cut off a section longer than the replacement pipe you bought.
With the pipe cut, I would be able to remove the old spigot.
Back outside, I simply pulled the old hose bib and pipe out from the hole.
I laid the two pipes on the only work surface I had at the time (remember, this was just after we moved in, and I didn’t have any sort of workbench yet).
To one end of the new pipe, I attached the new hose bib. SharkBite makes it so easy. All that’s needed to connect the two components is pushing them together.
The straight coupling would connect the new pipe to the existing water pipe.
I lined up the old and new hose bibs so I could measure the pipe at the back end.
The coupling would add about 1/2 inch (because of the middle part shown by the red lines) to the overall length if I cut the new pipe to the same length as the old.
So I accounted for this by cutting the new pipe 1/2 inch shorter than the old one.
Back outside, I inserted the new pipe and hose bib back into its hole.
Then back inside for the final step of connecting the new pipe to the existing pipe with the straight coupling.
Couldn’t be easier! All told, this was about a 15 minute fix, and most of that time was figuring out how I was going to proceed. I’m sure I can do the back spigot in 5 minutes.
There’s really no need to hire a plumber or handyman for a job like this. As long as you have access to where the pipe enters the house, you can replace a hose bib yourself. This ranks among the easiest of home DIYs, but it’s one that many people might think is beyond their skill set because they see soldered copper pipes.
There are a few options on the outside at this point. There are screw holes to secure the hose bib to your siding. Because we have brick cladding, I decided against screws. Too many holes in one brick might cause it to crack. I did, however, put a ring of outdoor caulk around the hole that leads inside the house. Though it was already a snug fit, and there was no evidence of prior water leaks or insect incursions, best not to take a chance. Caulk secured the spigot, but I can still easily remove or replace it if I need to in the future.
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