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My father recently passed away, and I'm working on getting his house ready for sale. For the most part, Dad kept up with preventive maintenance, but obviously things slipped a little in the last year while he was battling cancer.

While I helped him with some of the electrical in the house, I've never lived there, so I'm still in "discovery-mode" about where things are located and how things were constructed for other systems (HVAC, plumbing, etc)

Anyways, now that spring has finally arrived (Central Alberta, Canada), I'm starting to do work in the yard. There are two external hose bibs at Dad's house -- one on the west side, one on the east. Water flows from the east bib, but not from the west. Ok -- working theory, one got shut off for the winter, but he didn't get around to winterizing the other.

The problem is -- I can't seem to find anything resembling a shutoff valve, either at the fixture, or somewhere along the run between the supply manifold and the fixture. The manifold does not appear to have shutoffs on individual lines. It is just manifold, continuous PEX run, transition to copper fitting as it leaves the house.

Here's a picture of the line running from the house to the hose bib on the east side -- the one that's working.

Hose bib, east side (functioning)

Naturally, of course, the one on the west side (not working) is almost inaccessible. (What moron puts a plumbing fixture above the service entrance panel for the electrical service?) This is the best picture I can manage of it.

Hose bib, west side (not functioning)

Either by what I can see of the fixture, or by feel, I can't identify any obvious shutoff mechanism -- it appears to be the same setup as the hose bib on the east side, just with a ninety on the feed-in from the PEX to the copper.

Now, admittedly, I'm not a plumber, so I might be missing something obvious here. Do you guys see something in the pictures that I don't? What should my next troubleshooting steps be?

  • Those look like frost free valves that don’t need winterizing. They are long copper pieces because the actual valve sits back inside the house where it connects to the Pex. Follow the Pex tho and see if you can find a shutoff valve somewhere upstream. – Tyson May 4 '18 at 17:19
  • Hi Tyson. That's the problem -- I've traced the PEX lines from both hose bibs all the way back to the manifold, without finding any valve. So I have two identical installations, with two different behaviours. – Confused-cius May 4 '18 at 17:31
  • Many of these manifolds have a separate valve on the manifold for each spur. Does this one have that? – Jim Stewart May 4 '18 at 22:36
  • @JimStewart No. There are no valves for each spur at the manifold. I'm starting to think that it is a problem with the (frost free?) hose bib itself. – Confused-cius May 4 '18 at 22:42
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    In don’t know if you have Mud Dauber wasps in your region, but if you do, they could plug up an unused faucet to the point it would be sealed. It’s a perfect spot for them. You could likely get it poked out with something stiff like a piece of broken off electrical fish tape. Once you get a little flow the rest will wash out. – Tyson May 5 '18 at 0:34
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The hose-bib on the west side of the house is now working. I'm not 100% certain why or how, but it seems likely that @Tyson was on the right track with his obstruction theory.

I went outside this morning with some old coat hanger wire to try probing the bib for obstructions (like the Mud Dauber wasp nest suggested by Tyson). However, before using the wire, I removed the divider from the bib, checked it for obstructions without finding any, then felt around the inside of the bib with a finger, dislodging some crusty material (a bit like limescale) with an accompanying trickle of water. When I then turned on the bib, I got normal flow.

The only odd thing is -- I performed exactly these same steps when troubleshooting after the problem first occurred on Friday, but with no effect.

But hey, I'll take it. Problem solved for now -- without a potentially embarrassing, unneeded service call to a plumber. I'll give whoever ends up buying Dad's place a heads up in the form of a "things to keep an eye on" list.

Thanks again to everyone.

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