Cold weather and winter months bring with them several challenges.
One of them is the risk of freezing pipes and the damage this can cause to your home.
Freezing pipes can break, leading to both a very messy and very expensive situation.
There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of your pipes freezing in sub-zero temperatures and one of the most common is to allow a faucet to drip and keep the water moving.
However, dripping faucets come with their own problems too, such as water consumption, leaks, and the noise of a constantly dripping tap.
This is why it’s best to only have the minimum number of faucets dripping.
In this article, we will look at how many faucets you should allow to drip during the winter months.
When Should I Let My Faucets Drip?
Let’s begin by looking at the reasons why you should allow your faucets to drip in more detail.
If the temperature dial hits 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, this greatly increases the risk of your water pipes freezing.
This is especially true of any pipes that are either directly outdoors or are in colder areas of the home, such as the garage.
If a pipe freezes, it means that water will no longer be able to freely move through the pipe.
This can then affect your daily activities, such as showering, cleaning, or washing dishes.
An even bigger problem is the potential for the pipes to burst.
Water expands when it solidifies into ice and this additional mass and pressure can be too much for many pipes to cope with, resulting in them bursting.
A burst pipe can flood your home, leading to water damage and a costly repair bill.
Allowing your faucets to drip encourages the water in the pipes to keep flowing and reduces the risk of it freezing.
Do I Need To Let All My Faucets Drip?
The short answer is that no, you don’t. Whether you should allow a faucet to drip or not depends on several factors.
Any faucet that is connected to a pipe that comes directly from a hot water tank, such as a kitchen sink, will probably be safe.
These pipes aren’t directly exposed to colder environments and shouldn’t see the cold temperatures that some other pipes do.
However, if a pipe runs through the exterior walls of the house and is therefore exposed to the cold air outside, the faucets connected to these pipes should be allowed to drip.
A pipe can have several faucets branching off from it and in these cases, drip the faucet that is furthest away from the water source.
How Much Should I Drip My Faucet To Prevent Freezing?
You don’t need to open a faucet so that there is a steady stream of water escaping.
This is not only unnecessary but is also a waste of water.
A good drip to aim for is five to ten droplets per minute as this will be enough to keep the water flowing but will not waste water or risk flooding.
If you have a naturally leaky faucet that is leaking faster than this, you should still see about getting it fixed.
How Much Does It Cost To Allow A Faucet To Drip?
It’s difficult to put a precise figure on this because water costs vary from location to location, but we can estimate a general figure.
On average, you’re looking at an increase of around $20 per year for a leaky faucet.
This figure will be higher in areas with high water costs and lower in areas with cheaper bills, of course.
For a faucet that has been allowed to leak through only the coldest winter months, the figure will be around $5, assuming the cold weather lasts for three months.
Although this is an increase in your bills, it is nothing compared to the repair bills that a burst pipe can cause.
The average repair bill for a burst pipe is around $500.
You would need to allow your faucets to drip in winter for 100 years to equal that price! If the burst pipe causes water damage to your home, then the repair bill can run into thousands of dollars.
Paying the extra on your water bill caused by a dripping faucet is a far better choice.
Should I Drip The Cold Water Faucet Only?
Of course, cold water pipes are at risk from freezing during colder weather and should be allowed to drip, but what about hot water pipes?
Do these need to be dripped, too? The answer is that yes, they often do.
Hot water can cool down rapidly during the coldest temperatures and this leaves them at risk of freezing just like cold water pipes are.
This is especially true when temperatures drop overnight and you’re less likely to be using the hot water.
Assess the need to drip hot water pipes the same way you would cold water ones.
If they’re exposed to the outdoors and run through the exterior walls of the house, the faucets on hot water pipes should be run, too.
Should Outdoor Faucets Be Dripped?
Yes, they should. Many people have outdoor faucets for hoses and other equipment to be attached to and these need to be dripped also.
These faucets (see also ‘Do Outdoor Faucet Covers Work?‘) and pipes are directly exposed to outdoor temperatures, putting them at high risk of freezing and bursting.
They’re also more likely to run around the exterior of your house, also.
More Tips To Prevent Freezing And Burst Pipes In Cold Weather
As well as allowing your faucets to drip, there are a few other things you can do to reduce the risk of freezing and burst pipes.
Heat your home
if you’re going to be away from home for a few days during the winter, leave the thermostat running at around 55 degrees.
Seal up cracks
if there are cracks and holes in the exterior of your home, this will allow more cold air to get inside and to your pipes. Make sure all of these are sealed.
apply this special tape to your pipes to prevent them from getting cold
additional insulation, especially in places such as basements and attics, can help prevent your pipes from freezing.
Allowing some of your faucets to drip during the winter months prevents them from freezing and bursting.
By letting them drip, you will reduce the risk and prevent the costly bills to fix the damage.