Thanks in advance for any advice -

In 2018 we had the water main to a small apartment building replaced. Additionally, two exterior hose-bibs were installed.

The plumbers installed the hose bibs without a dedicated shut-off valve. To shut off water to the bib in the Winter, we'd be shutting off the water supply for two apartments - obviously, that's not an option.

We had a recent freeze and one hose bib burst. This would have been not that big a deal if we could shut off the hose bib - then repair another day. Instead, we had to complete the repair in freezing cold under the building in a tight crawl space while in a pool of cold water.

Did the plumber install this to code?

Thank you

  • 1
    I know it seems to be common sense or at least a good idea, but if code, unknown. Code mainly deals with safety, not often with your comfort. That must have been nasty.
    – crip659
    Jan 20, 2023 at 21:02
  • in my region each fixture needs a shut off - where are you located?
    – P2000
    Jan 20, 2023 at 21:41
  • Hose bibb or frost-free sillcock? Yes, I know you say hose bibb, but you also don't provide pictures, and people are sloppy with terminology. A frost free sillcock requires removing the hose in freezing weather to remain frost-free (fully drained.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 20, 2023 at 22:26
  • Thanks to all the good info so far. P2000 asked where we are located ... not sure how to respond to that question directly but we're in Portland, Oregon.
    – Bill Inra
    Jan 20, 2023 at 22:43
  • Then your applicable code in 2018 would be this delightful "why adopt standard codes when we can write our own less clearly" document, which is somewhat vague, but pages 57 and 58 appear to be relevant epubs.iapmo.org/2017/Oregon/mobile/index.html#p=81
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 20, 2023 at 23:08

4 Answers 4


My last house, I installed shut-off valves before every tap in the house.

They are cheap and make life so easy. They were not required by code (in my location) but having had to drain then bleed many old systems with the obvious problems that come with age I decided that I would avoid this issue.

Also, I have done this for many of the taps etc in my parents house. This has really old plumbing and is gradually being replaced.

  • I would also suggest getting shut offs that a drain tap so you can drain the line. Remember to turn the valve off before draining.
    – Gil
    Jan 21, 2023 at 1:19

As always, it depends on your local code in force at the time of the work.

If your applicable code is, or is based on IPC (International Plumbing Code)

606.2.2 requires a shutoff on the water supply to every sillcock.


And in that case, you can treat sillcock and hose bibb as functionally equivalent (so far as needing a shutoff) even though a sillcock is functionally superior in terms of not freezing, if you take the hose off.

Other codes may be similar (they often are, but sometimes not, and local amendments happen, too.) Now that we know where this is:

What appears to be your local code in force at the time of the work:

The 2017 Oregon code is less than clear on the subject. Welcome to "why standard codes are usually better than home-grown codes." Section 606.5 refers to "control valves before each appliance...appliance supply or slip joint"

But is a Sillcock/hose bibb an appliance? Neither word shows up in the definitions section of the document. The explicit mention in IPC is clear - this provides too much wiggle room for sloppy plumbing, IHMO. "Claim it's not an appliance and skip the valve!"

606.3 requires being able to shut off supply to each dwelling unit without shutting off other dwelling units, but no mention of things not connected to a particular dwelling unit.

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to review this and respond. I did review the code (based on comments from people here). Like you, I couldn't see something specific and I agree the IPC is quite clear on it. I guess if the state code-writers didn't modify the code in some way and just say "IPC is perfect", they'd be out of a job. Once again - thank you so much!
    – Bill Inra
    Jan 20, 2023 at 23:59
  • 3
    Contact your local inspection office, I guess, and get a ruling on "is a hose bibb 'an appliance' under the vaguely worded code."
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 21, 2023 at 0:12

Like others, I don't know exactly what the code says. And in any case, it would depend on what version your jurisdiction is using and whether they have any additional requirements above and beyond what the plumbing/building code may say.

But in my house, when I added a hose bib to the outside a couple of years ago, I put a shutoff valve inside in the crawl space.

6 years ago when we had a major renovation done that included a master bathroom re-do, the licensed plumbers did NOT put in shutoff valves for the individual fixtures, nor did they install a shutoff valve for the bathroom as a whole. So in order to work on the shower valve two weeks ago, I had to shut off water to the entire house!

Go figure.


I read this statement on another site: "My code say anyone who installs a pipe in an area where it may freeze and it does freeze is responsible for the pipe and any damage it causes."

Might be worth asking your local code enforcer if this applies to you.

I think it is smart to always install anti-syphon frost free sillcock valves. Here are a few sold at home depot for reference: anti-syphon frost free sillcock valves

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.