What is this plumbing leak?

When I turn on the outside spigot, I get some water pressure in the hose. I also get a jet of water inside the wall, flooding down into the basement. As soon as I turn it off, the water stops. I don’t get it–why does a leak stop when I turn off the faucet? If I’m not mistaken, the valve, located inside the standard outside spigot, is physically located outside the house… yet water is getting inside. If something was broken shouldn’t water be leaking all the time, irrespective of the state of the valve? Could a small space-time vortex have formed inside the spigot? (There was a hose connected during the winter, but without any pressure inside it.)

Any thoughts?



You’ve probably got a frost proof faucet that has a hole between the valve seat and the hose connection.

The diagrams in the link pretty much cover it all.

Good luck!

Is the entire valve body located outside the wall, or just the handle? If the valve body is inside the wall, there may be a crack in the body after the valve, causing the leak.

Yep, Projammer beat me to it. That’s likely your problem.

Fifteen minutes… wow, thanks everyone!!!

That’s an excellent page – even explains why there is no water problem until I turn on the faucet (and lets me rest a bit easier about not fixing it right away). Pretty ingenious design… I only wish I knew that before winter set in. I’ll be adding ‘remove hoses’ to the list of seasonal activities.
I hope replacing it won’t involve cutting into the wall…

Again, thanks…


Check the inside where the pipe feeds into the faucet. If you’re unusually lucky it might have a threaded fitting. More likely, you will need to drain that section of pipe and use a blowtorch to remove the soldered connection. If you’re not 100% comfortable using a torch next to wooden sills, keep a hose handy. They can be pretty dry and flammable.

Maybe with the water shut off he should try a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher. :wink: