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Outside Tap Fitting Costs

Once you fit an outside tap at your property, you will wonder how you ever managed without one. But how much does it cost to fit an outside tap and is this a job a handy householder can do for themselves? The average cost in the UK for outside tap installation is around £100. The final price will depend upon:

  • The location of the tap
  • How far the feed water source is from the tap
  • How many taps you want to be installed
  • The type of tap you choose
  • Whether you choose to fit a tap lock or a lockable, protective box

If you contact a local plumber to fit an outside tap, he should be able to quote more or less instantly for the cost of the job because this is a very common and standard request. It usually takes only an hour or two in terms of work and labour charges.

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What does installing an outside tap involve?

The first task is to decide on a location for the tap and the most popular location is outside the actual house and on the kitchen wall as this offers access to the internal cold water mains supply and takes the least amount of work.

A hole is drilled through the wall and then this is opened up to around 22mm in diameter and a piece of copper pipe inserted. With the cold water feed turned off, a junction is cut to fit the new pipe and connect it to the cold water supply. An in-line shut off valve is installed next, this is usually a stopcock. A wall plate is mounted as close as possible to the point where the pipe passes through the wall and this is screwed into the wall with some drilling and wall plugs. Next, the tap is screwed into the outside connection with some PTFE tape to make the joint watertight. Finally, the compression joints - these connect all the pieces of copper pipe together – are tightened before the water is turned back on and the whole system checked for leaks. It is advisable to fit some insulation material around the pipework to prevent freezing during the winter months.

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Countersunk wall mounting

If you don’t want the tap to stick out, you can recess it with a design called countersunk wall mounting instead of a wall plate which partially recesses the tap into the wall.  It is less likely to be knocked or damaged and can look very stylish.  To countersink a tap, this will mean removing enough of the masonry around the pipe with a chisel so that the countersunk mounting fits flat and neatly into the wall and there is enough room for your hand to turn the tap on and off.  The tap is secured with quick-drying cement which will harden within twenty minutes.

Uses of an outside tap

The obvious ones are watering the garden or cleaning the car but there are others:-

  • Filling up a paddling pool or hot tub
  • Cleaning the patio or washing down decking
  • Watering hanging baskets and planters
  • Taking water to animals kept outside in a sufficient volume

Where is the best place to fit an outside tap?

It is easiest to fit a garden tap to the wall outside the kitchen as the mains water feed then usually goes straight to the cold tap on the sink.  If you want adequate water pressure for a hose, for example, the tap will need to be connected to the water mains and not to a gravity feed supplied by a water tank. Taps can also be installed in a garage, handy if you are using it as a workshop or at any point in the garden providing you can access the water mains with a feed pipe. Standard installation requirements will include:-

  • An isolator to shut the tap off either an in-line shut off valve so effectively a stopcock or an in-line service valve, this is actually a regulatory requirement under current water regulations to avoid dirty water being drawn back into the household drinking supply
  • The alternative is to install a device in the pipework to prevent water from flowing back into the household water supply should an adverse or negative water pressure be created.  Usually, this is achieved by fitting a double check-valve which incorporates two spring-loaded non-return valves and sometimes this feature is included in the tap itself
  • A thermal installation which should be installed around the external pipework to prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting during the colder months

What is the best style of tap to fit?

Outside taps come in two main styles, a  bib tap which has the output directed downwards or a standard outside tap which just has the outlet at a slight angle.  Either type can be screwed into a wall-mounted elbow for the supply and the kit should also include a screw-on adaptor to the outlet for a hosepipe connection.  Always make sure you tap size is sufficient for the type of hose you want to fit.

How to find a local plumber to fit an outside tap

Finding a reliable plumber who doesn’t charge the earth is not an easy task.  Start by asking a friend, family member or work colleague for a local recommendation and if this fails, use a community or neighbourhood group on social media to ask for some names.  There are online platforms for trades where you can type in your details and receive two or three quotes but some of these are little more than advertising directories so be careful which ones you use as the traders on them may not be verified or authenticated.

A reputable plumber will be able to quote accurately for how much it will cost to fit a tap outside as this is a very common request.  Ask for a final figure based on the type of tap you want and the location of the fitting.

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Common problems with an outside tap

Many people shut off an outside tap during the winter months to protect against freezing pipes but you can find that when you go to turn on the water in the spring, the tap doesn’t work.  Here are some of the most common causes of an outside tap failure:-

  • The majority of garden or outside taps are supplied with an integral check valve which is required under current water regulations.  It is quite a common problem that this valve collapses inside the tap and effectively blocks the flow when you turn the water back on after the winter.  Replacing the tap will cure the fault
  • The seal can become stuck in the outside tap and cause a blockage.  To find out whether this is the problem, turn the water feed off under the sink and then unwind the outside tap from the backplate which is fixed to the wall.  Turn the cold water feed back on under the sink and the water should flow out freely, this will establish if the tap has a faulty seal or not which you can replace
  • If the tap is quite old and weathered then the spindle doesn’t always open fully as they can clog up or rust over time.  Simply replace the tap to solve the problem, if you can turn off the water feed then this is quite a quick and simple job which most householders can manage themselves

Can you fit an outside tap yourself?

You can buy complete outside tap kits for DIY enthusiasts online or in your local hardware store.  This will include everything you need to do the job yourself other than the drill kit to make the hole in the wall and create a pipe run.

Lock your outside tap

If your property is reasonably communal or your tap is located in an area where others could have access, then you can fit a lock to it.  One of the simplest ways to lock the tap is with a padlock or hose bib lock both of which are easily purchased from your local hardware store or online.  Hose bib locks are generally made of brass or aluminium and are a clever device that secures the hose thread meaning no-one can access your water supply; water theft if more common than you might think.  A hose bib lock is inexpensive and simple and the most popular type is a magnetic locking hose bib which will fit most ¾ inch tap threads.  Tap locks are also useful for accidental access of the water, to save you from what can be potentially a huge bill if you don’t spot it quickly as well as a very wet area which could damage the property if the tap is attached to the outside wall of a building.

There is also a lockable protective cover for outside taps which claims to be both tamperproof and vandal resistant; these are commonly used in public areas such as parks, gardens and clubs like lawn bowls, cricket and tennis clubs where grass has to be maintained and cared for with what is a publicly accessible tap.

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FAQs

Does an outside tap just have to run cold water?

Depending on your requirements you can also have a hot water tap outside which is ideal for bathing a dirty dog or filling a paddling pool with tepid or lukewarm water.

Does an outside tap need a drain?

A drain is not normally necessary with a standard garden tap.

Can I drink from an outside tap?

It’s not an unreasonable question especially if your tap is located just outside the kitchen and draws water from your mains cold water feed.  However, whilst the drinking water in your home is going through approved fittings and pipes, the pipe supplying your outside tap and even the hose itself could be full of mould and bacteria and so it is not recommended that you drink water drawn from this tap.  The material of the hose can also react with the water.  Outside taps and garden hoses are not designed to deliver safe drinking water unlike the fittings you will have within your home even though the water for both comes from the same place.

How to get a garden tap to point in the correct direction?

Some DIY installers get into difficulty with this and the key thing to remember is that you should not screw the new tap onto the pipe; the nut on the end of the pipe should be screwed into the tap.  Simply slide the tap onto the copper tubing and hold the tap straight whilst tightening the nut with a spanner.  If you screw the tap on directly then you will need to keep turning the tap to tighten it and are bound to end up with it pointing at a funny and unhelpful angle.

Why has my outside tap stopped working?

Sometimes the ‘no return’ valve can jam and effectively cut off the flow of water or the washer can fail or the internal spindle corrodes and deteriorates especially if the tap is old.

What is the best height for an outside tap?

Fit an outside tap about 50cm above the ground.  You should drain the pipe in the winter to prevent it from freezing so the tap will need to sit higher than the point at which the pipe is connected then you can fit a drain tap at the lowest point in the pipe.

Do outside taps require more maintenance than inside taps?

Outside taps can require more care and attention simply because of their location and the fact they are subject to weathering which inside taps are protected from.  They are more likely to seize up, corrode or rust simply because of their exposure.

How can I ease a sticky outside tap?

WD40 is a great product to help get things moving, this is a penetrating lubricant and can help ease a dry or gritty thread on the tap.  Even if you don’t want to use the tap in the winter months, it is worth switching on the water feed now and again to keep the tap in good working order.  If you do use the tap during the winter, it can be helpful to situate it in a sunny spot if possible as this will help in cold conditions.  If the tap is frozen, you need to wait for it to thaw or use boiling water from a kettle to defrost it before you apply any force.

The wall around my outside tap is looking damp, what could be the cause?

There may be a leak or a break where the tap joins the pipe or the tap may have been dripping slightly onto the ground because it needs a new washer and you just haven’t noticed this. 

What is a Spigot?

Sometimes outside taps are referred to as Spigots which may confuse you if you haven’t heard the name before.  They can also be called a hose bib, a bibcock or just a garden tap – they are all the same thing. 

See more information from Which? on installing an outside tap, along with expert resources from the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering.