People don’t steal water from your outdoor faucet do they? Turns out in some cases they do. So what can you do to lock them up? (The faucets not the people – or perhaps it should be both!).
It’s easy and cheap to lock your outside water faucet with a faucet lock, available at hardware stores. These locks come with keys or a padlock system, so they are simple to get on and off. You can also install a flow meter to monitor water theft or shut off the main outdoor faucet valve.
Let’s look at why you’d want to lock your outside faucet, how to do it – and consider some alternative options to stop people stealing your water…
Why Would I Want To Lock My Outdoor Faucet? (Water Theft Problems)
It may sound unlikely, but water theft is a thing. If you have an easily accessible outside faucet and live in a reasonably busy area, there’s a good chance that one day someone will “borrow” your water. As water doesn’t come for free, this isn’t ideal.
We’re not pointing the finger here, but we’ve heard tell of landscaping contractors, pest control, and city workers helping themselves to water. It can happen in error, and of course, these people need access to a water supply; however, it’s costly to you if you end up providing the water for the whole neighborhood’s landscaping.
Deliberate water theft is illegal; and although most thieves will take it from fire hydrants, sometimes they will take water from a private residential faucet if it’s easy to get to. Vacation homes are easy targets as they’re often unoccupied (as is your own home if you’re on vacation).
And then there’s kids… If you have young children, you’ll know how attracted they are to anything to do with water. Locking your outdoor faucet can save you a whole heap of trouble. It’s worth noting that schools always have faucet locks!
How Do I Lock My Outdoor Faucet?
It’s a quick and simple process to fit an outdoor faucet lock, so it’s definitely worth doing. You need to make sure you get the right size; however, hopefully you have a standard size faucet so you can easily pick up the right lock in Lowe’s or Home Depot.
Take a look at this really short YouTube video that shows you what a typical faucet lock looks like in action. To install it, simply follow the directions on the packaging, making sure that the textured part can still spin freely (which shows it’s not been cross threaded).
You can also get something like this Guard N Lock, which prevents the faucet being turned on. This is a super-simple way to prevent your water from being taken without your knowledge.
So those are the simple faucet locks (also called spigot locks). However, if you’re really concerned about water theft, you may want to try something a bit more heavy duty. A faucet guard lock is a tough steel cover that fits over the whole faucet, with a base that attaches to the wall.
The base requires drilling, as it goes into the house wall, then the steel cover goes over this. You lock the cover to the base. Take a look at this mighty beast of a faucet guard from Chambridge, which would definitely work as a deterrent.
If you like the idea of a faucet security cover but not the drilling aspect, try a cover like this one from Fozlock that attaches to itself by means of a padlock. This has the bonus of being insulated so can help protect your faucet from cold weather, too.
Whichever lock you choose, make sure the faucet is turned off and then shut off at the valve before you install or try the lock for the first time. It’ll make sure your feet stay dry.
How Do I Get The Outdoor Faucet Lock Off Again?
All these locks come with keys, and some have a padlock system. They are easy to remove, although they may need a quick spray of WD-40 from time to time.
Don’t lose the key. Keep it in a safe and easy-to-reach place, like a hook by the back door so you can grab it on your way out to the yard. If you have young kids, make sure you attach the hook high up the wall, well out of reach. Most locks come with a spare key or two, which is always good to know.
Should I Install a Flow Meter On My Outdoor Faucet To Monitor Water Usage or Theft?
A water meter will tell you exactly how much water is being used. Any sudden change or spike in usage can alert you to a potential water leak or instances of water theft.
You can get flow meters that measure usage from individual faucet; so if you want to know whether your outdoor spigot is being abused by water thieves or opportunistic landscapers, this neat device should give you a clearer picture. Once you’ve installed your new flow meter, you can monitor your usage to see if there are any deviations.
For your yard faucet, you’ll need a cold water flow meter that’s designed to live in the great outdoors, and it can be for non-potable (non-drinkable) water use. You can get digital displays or go for one of the rather fabulous-looking dial versions. Here are a few examples of outdoor faucet flow meters.
We’re big fans of water meters and flow meters here at Take A Yard. As well as alerting you to potential problems, they’re also a good way to keep an eye on your household’s water usage. By keeping an eye on how many gallons you’re getting through, it can also help you think about ways to save water and money.
Do All Outdoor Faucets Have Shut Off Valves? (As An Alternative)
An alternative to installing a cover or using a flow meter to check for theft is simply to turn your water off using the shut off valve. Many outdoor faucets have separate shut off valves inside the house which turn off the water supply to the exterior pipe.
It’s a good idea to know where your shut off valve is in case of leaks. Also, if you live in a zone that’s prone to freezing weather, you can help to prevent frozen faucets by switching off the external water supply for the winter. We also switch ours off before going on vacation.
In newer homes, the outdoor faucet shut off valve is usually located close to the main water valve. In older buildings, it may be separate from the rest of the valves and closer to the outside faucet itself. If you have an exterior faucet but no separate way to shut off its water supply, it’s worth getting a professional in to quote for installing one.
When it comes to preventing fool-proof theft prevention, this is the best way to do it. A thief simply cannot steal something that isn’t there. There’s a world of difference between helping yourself to water from an outside spigot, and breaking into a house to switch on the water, so there isn’t a way for a thief to bypass this deterrent.
How does this work for you? Well, there isn’t the upfront cost of buying a lock (unless of course you don’t have a valve and decide to get one put in), and there isn’t the risk of losing the key.
However, let’s be realistic. If you’re out in your yard watering the plants every day, it’s a hassle to switch the valve on and off all the time. They’re not designed for daily use, and are rarely somewhere easy to reach. A simple faucet lock (like the one in the short YouTube video) can be the easiest way to prevent water theft.
It’s never happened to me – but it turns out that stealing other people’s water from their outside faucet is definitely a problem – so it makes sense to fit a faucet lock (especially as they’re so cheap, easy to install and use).
And if you’re really concerned about water theft you can fit a flow meter to see how much is being ‘borrowed’ and then take the more draconian measure of shutting off the main outdoor faucet valve if you think it’s necessary.
However, I think a few dollars spent on a straightforward faucet lock would be your best bet in the first instance.