Installing the pipe and faucet
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Plumbing the faucet
PEX tubing, which is flexible and more resistant to damage from freezing, is the best choice for the supply line to the faucet.
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Copper to PEX transition
To attach PEX to a copper line, solder on a transition fitting, then crimp the PEX to the fitting with a crimping tool.
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Blow the PEX dry in cold weather with a compressor. Install a blow-out valve at the other end of the run of pipe to drain the water.
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Mounting the faucet
Attach the faucet to a hollow post or other surface. Keep the PEX hidden from the sun; it's not UV-resistant.
If dragging hoses around is a
constant activity in your yard,
install a remote faucet and
eliminate that hassle forever. The job
will take you a day or two (depending
on how much trenching is required) and
cost less than $100. Everything you’ll
need is available at home centers.
The inside connection
To get the best flow rate at the garden,
tap into an interior 3/4-in. cold water
line. If you can’t find one that’s convenient,
tap into a 1/2-in. line instead
(you’ll just get a slightly lower flow
rate). If you have a water softener, tap
into a water line before the softener.
Call 811 a few days before you dig
so the utility companies can locate
buried pipes and cables in your yard.
You only have to bury the water line
about 6 in. deep. If you’re trenching
in hard clay or rocky soil, that’s about
as deep as you’ll want to go. If you’re
working in soft soil, it’s smart to go
at least 12 in. deep to reduce the risk
of future damage. At any depth, you
can easily protect the water line from
shovel attacks: Cover the tubing with a
couple of inches of soil, then pour in
about 2 in. of dry concrete mix before
backfilling the trench. Soil moisture
will harden the concrete.
Copper pipe is best for the exposed
plumbing at the house, but PEX tubing
is best for underground. It’s a lot
cheaper than copper and it’s easier to
install than CPVC plastic. With PEX,
you can make a continuous run from
your house and make turns without
installing a single fitting. Plus, PEX tolerates
mild freezing better than either
CPVC or copper (in case you’re late
blowing out the line). However, you’ll
have to invest in a 3/4-in.
PEX crimping tool. If you don’t want
to shell out the cash, use CPVC.
The blow-out system
If you live in a freeze zone, you’ll have
to blow out the system before the first
hard freeze. It’s easy to do with a home
air compressor, but you’ll have to
install the components now (instead of
during a snowstorm).
At the house, splice in a tee and a
threaded female 3/4-in. adapter, and
cap it with a plug. That’s where you’ll
connect your compressed-air line.
At the garden, install a blow-out
valve (a ball valve is best) below grade
in a gravel pit. Use a sprinkler system
valve box to cover it. Before
the first freeze, close the shutoff valve
and unscrew the plug. Next, screw in a
standard air hose fitting and a reducer
and connect your air hose. Out at the
faucet, open both the faucet and the
blow-out valve and let the water drain. Then, close just the faucet and blow
out any remaining water with your
compressor. Finally, close the blow-out
valve and replug the blow-out fitting
back at the house.
The post and faucet
We cut a length of hollow PVC fence
post to mount the faucet, but you can
build your own post out of any material.
Make sure the PEX runs inside it
to protect it from sunlight—UV rays
reduce its life. Set the post at least 18
in. deep. Screw the sill cock flange to
the post and install a screw-on backflow
preventer. Note: Check with your
local plumbing inspector for backflow
prevention requirements in your area.