If you ever drop by my place for an evening visit, please don’t walk around to the backyard without first yelling some kind of warning. If I’ve been working outside that day, and the air temperature’s any warmer than 5ºC, I’m probably back there having an outdoor shower. Nothing fancy, just a hose with warm water coming out, a bottle of shampoo, a bar of Irish Spring and a few trees and shrubs for privacy.
I also wash off our babies and toddlers out there when they’ve spent a day in the sand pile. It’s much better than dragging filthy little people through the house and into the bathroom. The system also gives me easy access to a bucket of hot water for washing the vehicles, cleaning dirty hands and humanely washing filthy pets. I’ve never seen another house with hot-and-cold taps outdoors, but I bet that’s about to change as more people discover a type of faucet that’s specifically designed for outdoor use.
The unit I’ve been experimenting with is made by Moen, and it’s unique as far as I know. They call it the single-handle hot/cold sill faucet and it does two things better than the side-mounted kitchen faucet that got me going with outdoor showering.
First is the toughness of the design. The single, pullout knob offers nothing that can get knocked off or bent. It’s short, strong, sleek and damage resistant. You’d have to hit the thing with a hammer to break it. Pull out the knob to turn the water on, then rotate it one way or the other to control temperature.
The Moen outdoor faucet also includes the kind of automatic back-drain feature you’ll find on the best, traditional, cold-only outdoor taps. Whenever you shut it off, water drains completely out of the unit, so there’s nothing to freeze and no need to remember the seasonal draining ritual. And, if you happen to need a bucket of warm water for washing the car during a January thaw, there it is. Water flows all year round.
The design comes in two different lengths for use passing through exterior walls up to 30 cm thick. Drill a 40 mm diameter hole through your exterior wall at a slight outward slope, anchor the faucet with screws and caulking, then make hot and cold pipe connections inside. That’s it.
A hot and cold outdoor faucet is one of those things you’ll find more practical than you’d guess until you live with one. And if you’ve never enjoyed a hot, steaming outdoor shower on a crisp, moonlit night, you’re missing out on what might be the best and most impractical advantage of all. But like I said, please shout a loud hello if you drop in one evening and hear happy shower singing coming from my backyard.