When Should You Leave Your Faucets To Drip? 

When Should You Leave Your Faucets To Drip? 

Anthony Barnes

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If you’re constantly finding that your faucets aren’t working in the winter and each time you know that you’ve paid your water bill, then it might be time to drip your faucets.

The risk of frozen pipes is significantly higher once the temperature falls below 20℉. 

It’s well known that frozen pipes are less than ideal and going without running water for even a few hours can be really frustrating, but the real problems start once the ice within the pipes starts to melt.

It can result in things like broken water pipes and serious water damage, which can not only leave you without running water for even longer, but it can be an expensive job to fix and that’s the last thing you want when the holidays are right around the corner. 

Dripping your pipes can fix these problems in most cases, and whilst it’s best to do this before the temperature reaches freezing it can be done when you start experiencing these issues.

Check out this handy guide which will help you avoid damaging your pipes in the winter and save you money overall. 

Will My Pipes Freeze at 32℉?

32℉ is both the freezing point and melting point of water, so it can be tricky to know if your pipes will freeze if temperatures reach 32℉.

Whilst it is possible for pipes to freeze at this temperature, it’s unlikely that they will.

When temperatures fall below 20℉ is when you should be most concerned about your pipes freezing. 

These subzero temperatures are super destructive to the interior pipes that run through your home.

When the water is starting to turn into ice, the water expands which puts your pipes under huge amounts of stress, and as the pressure of the water builds up there’s an increasing chance that the pipes will burst. 

Factors that can affect the freezing rate of the water include the diameter of the pipes and the type of material they are made out of.

If your pipes are smaller they are more prone to freezing than larger pipes would be, and materials such as PVC and ABS are more freeze-proof than say copper pipes as they will freeze much faster. 

What Should I Check If The Temperature Drops Quickly?

It’s all well and good to say you should drip your pipes before the temperature drops, but the weather can often be indecisive so you have no real way of knowing when freezing will occur.

If the temperature drops quickly you should check these two things: 

Check The Insulation Around Your Home

If your home has poor insulation, then this may be the root of the problem.

You should check around your home for any air leaks through cracks or openings which are most often found in attics, garages and crawl spaces.

Weatherstripping, double-paned windows and caulking (see also ‘How to Caulk a Kitchen Sink‘) are just a few ways in which you can increase insulation within your home and keep the heat inside. 

Check The Thermostat

You should check the thermostat, if it is too low then the risk of frozen pipes becomes more of a possibility.

To lower the chances of frozen pipes, you should keep your thermostat over 55℉ to prevent freezing from occurring. 

You should check the mainline if all of your faucets aren’t working as you can often protect your pipes by shutting off one of the water lines.

How Much Drip Will Keep The Pipes From Freezing? 

Should I Drip All My Faucets?

You should drip at least one faucet and keep it dripping for a minimum of 12 hours.

You only need a thin stream of water to melt the ice and keep the water pressure low, so one faucet should be enough as the water runs throughout the whole house. 

If you’re worried about the cost of keeping your faucets dripping for 12 hours, it’s estimated that keeping your faucets dripping is equivalent to $2 a day, which is much cheaper than repairs would be if your pipes end up bursting. 

Should I Drip Hot Or Cold Water?

It doesn’t really matter if you’re dripping hot or cold water, just as long as it is over 20℉. 

Tips On How To Protect Your Pipes

We’ll outline some tips on how to prevent your pipes from bursting and how to make sure that your home is ready for winter. 

It’s hard to predict what the temperature will fall to overnight, even with all these weather apps around nowadays.

But if your know that the temperature is predicted to fall below 28℉, it’s best to leave a faucet dripping during the night to keep the water flowing, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

During sub-zero temperatures, you should drip the faucets that have a pipe which borders the outside wall or are in a colder area.

Attics, basements, utility rooms or garage sinks are likely contenders for dripping. 

If you are planning a holiday or going away for an extended period of time, you should 

ensure that the thermostat is above 55℉. 

To add more insulation to your home, seal up cracks and air gaps. Try to spot any areas around your home that have insufficient insulation and cover any vents you have on the exterior of your home.

You should also check the weatherstipping on any doors or windows and replace it if necessary, oftentimes the insulation is worn to the point that it is unproductive. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully from reading this small guide you now know how to protect your pipes from freezing.

It’s usually best to be proactive and drip your faucets before the temperatures hit freezing, but it can be done at any time to get the water flowing freely again.

In dripping your faucets you protect the pipes from any damage and from potentially bursting. 

You may spend some extra money by keeping your faucets on overnight, but it is nothing compared to the money you’ll be spending to repair your pipes. 

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age