How to Replace an Outdoor Water Faucet

Exterior faucets -- also called sill cocks, spigots or hose bibbs -- have a simple valve design, and when one starts leaking or becomes difficult to operate, you can usually fix it without much trouble. When corrosion or freezing temperatures finally doom the spigot, the procedure for replacing it is simple, but you may need some muscle to remove it. If the faucet is located on the side of your house and you live in a climate with freezing temperatures, your community may require the installation of a frost-free model. Its valve stem extends into the house, where it's warmer.

credit: Damien Scogin/Demand Media

Removing the Old Faucet

Step 1

Turn off the water to the faucet, and then open the faucet and let it drain. If you can't find a valve that controls the faucet's supply line, turn off the main water to the house until you complete the procedure.

Use a pair of pipe wrenches to unscrew a threaded faucet. Hold the supply pipe securely with one wrench while you turn the faucet counterclockwise with the other. If the faucet is hard to turn, use 1-inch steel pipe to lengthen the handles of both wrenches and provide more leverage.

Cut the faucet off the pipe with a pipe cutter if it has a sweat (soldered) connection. If you're going to replace it with the same type of faucet, make the cut as close to the faucet as possible to avoid having to add piping.

Extract the faucet with a MAPP torch as an alternative to cutting it off. Hold it with a pair of adjustable pliers with insulated handles while you heat the joint with the torch. Keep pulling on the faucet, and as soon as the solder becomes hot enough to melt, the faucet will slide right off. Drop it into a bucket of water to cool it.

Replacing the Faucet

Wrap pipe-thread tape clockwise around the threads of the pipe before screwing on a threaded faucet. Tighten the faucet as much as you can by hand by rotating it clockwise. Then hold the supply pipe with one pipe wrench while you finish tightening the faucet with the other pipe wrench.

De-burr and clean the cut pipe with a file before soldering on a new faucet that has a sweat connection. If you pulled the faucet off using a torch and pliers, use emery cloth to remove any solder remaining on the pipe so the new faucet will slide on properly. The pipe must be clean and sanded down to bare copper to ensure a leak-free soldered joint.

Unscrew the faucet handle and remove the valve so it doesn't get damaged by heat while you're soldering.

Spread soldering flux on the outside of the pipe and the inside of the faucet connection, and slide the faucet onto the pipe. Arrange it so the outlet is facing down, and then heat the joint with a torch while you apply lead-free solder. Remove the torch as soon as the solder melts and wicks into the joint. Let the faucet cool for 10 minutes.

Replace the valve and tighten the valve nut with adjustable pliers before you turn on the water.