Arrow-Breaker Faucets

By Reuben Saltzman at Structure Tech Home Inspections

There’s a relatively new outdoor faucet* made by Arrowhead Brass & Plumbing that seems to be taking over. This is pretty much the only non-frost-free faucet that I ever see installed in new homes today, and it’s called the Arrow-Breaker faucet. The most obvious identifying characteristic is the orange tag that comes attached to the faucet stem.

Arrow-Breaker

*Other terms for an outdoor faucet: lawn faucet, sillcock, hose bib.

In addition to the orange tag, it has the words “Anti-Siphon” cast into the product. Their unique feature is a built-in vacuum breaker, both on the frost-free and non-frost free versions of the product. The photo below shows a cut-away image of the integral vacuum breaker.

Arrow-Breaker cutaway view

By contrast, a standard faucet without a built-in vacuum breaker doesn’t have the thick neck:

Standard sillcock

As far as I know, this is the only faucet sold today that comes in a non-frost free version with a built-in vacuum breaker. The first thing to know about these faucets is that there is no need for an exterior vacuum breaker.

Check out the video clip below for more information on the benefits of this product, and for information on how to identify it.

The other thing to know about these faucets is that it might be difficult to winterize them. There are two possible ways to winterize an exterior faucet: if the interior drain valve for the faucet is located higher than the faucet, the drain valve is opened to allow air into the pipe. Air replaces water in the pipe, and water drains out of the faucet. No problem there.

If the interior drain valve is located lower than the faucet, however, the faucet needs to be winterized by having water drain out of the interior drain valve. Air must enter the exterior faucet to replace the water in the pipe. With an Arrow-Breaker faucet, this can’t happen. The integral vacuum breaker prevents air from getting into the faucet. I’ve emailed the manufacturer about this, and they were somewhat baffled. They said that the only way to get water to drain out of the pipe with these faucets would be to use a wrench on the flats of the bonnet to take it apart, thus allowing air into the pipe.

Wrench on faucet

Of course, that got me thinking about external vacuum breakers, and the same applies to those; in their normal state, they also won’t allow air into the pipe to replace water. They need to either be removed in the fall or manipulated to allow air in, to replace the water. The good news is that on most new installs, the Arrow-Breaker faucet will be installed below the interior shutoff valve, so there won’t be any problems.

Oh, and one more thing. The manufacturer of the Arrow-Breaker faucets was curious as to why any faucets are being used in Minnesota that are not frost free. Great question. The answer is that frost-free faucets don’t work for every application. If you have a walk-out basement and you want a faucet on the rear wall of your home, you don’t want the long stem on a frost-free faucet protruding into your living space.

Arrow-Breaker faucets can be purchased through licensed professional plumbers, wholesale plumbing supply distributors, retail hardware dealers, and internet sources for plumbing products.

Courtesy of Reuben Saltzman at Structure Tech Home Inspections