View Full Version : Hose bibs - silcocks vs ball valves

Stephen Tashiro
07-21-2016, 12:58 PM
Is there an advantage to using the sillcock type of hose bib for exterior faucets as opposed to using the ball valve type? Why is the sillcock design "traditional" ?

Exterior faucets ( hose bibs) are available both in the traditional sillcock design where you turn the round handle like a turning a bolt and also available in a design that uses ball valves, where you only turn the handle a quarter turn to go from on to off. I find that the sillcock design starts leaking from around the valve shaft after a few years. It's tempting to think that the ball valve type would be more durable - or at least only leak from spout. However, I've never tried the ball valve type.

Adam Herman
07-21-2016, 1:17 PM
I have not seen a "frost free" ball valve. usually the sillcock has a long shaft and the valve is actually about 12 inches inside the house from the valve to keep the water far enough inside the house to prevent freezing.

You can usually tighten the packing nut to keep them from leaking. a ball valve is more durable and will last longer, but it will also allow the water to freeze and bust your pipes.

i use ball valve type on every valve that is not in danger of freezing.

Roger Feeley
07-21-2016, 1:19 PM
I prefer the ball valves for exactly the reason you stated. You have to change that o-ring in the old style every few years.

A word to the wise about these things. They all have anti-siphon valves on them and those go bad. If you get a valve, go to a plumbing supply and make sure you can get the replacement parts for the anti-siphon valve too. I have one of those here that's gone bad and I can't use the faucet until I fix the anti-siphon.

Roger Feeley
07-21-2016, 1:22 PM

The frost proof thing can be found in both ball valve style and sillcock style, I think. In my old house (just moved) we had ball valves that were frost proof. The valve mechanism was, as you said, back in the wall about 12". I was paranoid and had shutoffs a couple of feet inside the house. I would shut those off every winter.

Tom M King
07-21-2016, 5:29 PM
We have three hose bibs on the house, and four yard hydrants within 100 feel from the house. PVC pipe is cheap, and 1" allows good flow. I put all those on the same branch line from the main line coming from the well, and have one ball valve that will shut off the whole branch. I can close that one valve, and work on anything that needs to be fixed, or put it off until tomorrow without having to shut anything in the house down.

The Woodford freezeproof bibs, and hydrants, are easy to replace any part on. One repair kit of each type kept let's us be ready for anything that comes up. In 36 years, I've replaced a few washers, a couple of packings, and one broken lift rod (broken by tree cutter taking out big Pine trees).

Bruce Wrenn
07-21-2016, 9:33 PM
I think the term for ball valves is "quarter turn valves."

James Baker SD
07-22-2016, 1:51 AM
My experience is that the ball valves are harder to precisely control the flow out of the hose if that is important to you. Beginning and end of the 1/4 turn makes very little change, maximum change in flow in the middle. Much easier to get precise flow rate with the multi-turn valve which is important to me when I water the garden by hand.

Tom M King
07-22-2016, 9:19 PM
I thought about that I probably should have mentioned, in case it will do anyone any good for future planning, that not only do I have a ball valve to turn off the outside hydrants, but the other branch that goes to the house also can be turned off with a ball valve. That way, even if the house needs to be shut down for a repair or something, a hose can be drug in the house to flush a toilet with.

Those ball valves used to be gate valves, but when ball valves became so well made, easy to operate, and reliable, I changed the gate valves to ball valves. A ball valve is hard to beat for on and off.

Todd Mason-Darnell
07-23-2016, 7:51 AM
I am a big fan of ball valves and have converted to them for most of my outdoor faucets (much better CV). I am in Central Texas which does experience occasional hard overnight freezes. One issue I have notices is that the ball valves do appear to be more susceptible to failure from freezing. When closed, the valve holds a slug of water in the ball. As that slug freezes, the point of least resistance is the side walls of the valve.

In no way is this a scientific test, just my general observation over the last 15 years.

Wayne Lomman
07-23-2016, 8:55 AM
Ask any arthritis sufferer and they will sing the praises of the ball valve. Cheers

Robert Delhommer Sr
07-23-2016, 11:32 AM
Changing my outside faucets to ball valves, surprised I never even considered them. The cheap valves available today made in china do not last more than a couple of years. I hate that junk, I would rather pay a little more for something that last more than a couple of years & I mean a couple of years. The one we use most I have changed every 2 or 3 years lately, the original one with the house 44 years ago lasted abt. 35 years.