in ,

How to Use a Dripping Faucet to Prevent Freezing

Burst frozen pipe on a black background

Cold Weather Hinders Water Flow

This is a common problem everyone living in cold states knows about. The winter season is not nice to water flow and can freeze pipes if you are not careful. When it happens not only do you lose normal faucet function inside your home, but you also run the risk of having your pipes break or burst.

To learn what to do about this problem and how to avoid it, just continue to read our article. Every warm state resident should know this problem and how to solve it if they are moving to a cold-weather state soon.

How Cold Does it Have to be for Pipes to Freeze

Thermometer in the snow reading 32 degrees

Water freezes at 32 degrees F or 0 degrees C. That is when it is outside and has no barriers between it and the cold. The water in your pipes may not freeze exactly at 32 degrees but it may.

Usually, the temperature has to be 32 degrees for an extended period of time before the water in your pipes will freeze. Then, those pipes must be routed through an unprotected space or an uninsulated area before they will freeze at that temperature.

Will temperatures at 32 degrees burst pipes

Rusted piped spewing water from hole

Technically, this is possible, but it is a rare occurrence. The water must be frozen for some length and create a pressure build-up behind the ice before the pipes will burst. Generally, you would need to have the temperatures at a lower level than 32 degrees before the pipes will burst.

At 32 degrees it takes a long time for the water to freeze inside the pipes so you would have plenty of time to remedy the situation. To keep pipes from freezing, some people say the minimum temperature level is 55 degrees F.

That seems to be a little high since water won’t freeze in pipes even at 33 degrees F. You could go a bit lower than that temperature level.

Will Dripping Faucets Stop the Water From Freezing

Close up of aluminum faucet dripping

This is a common question, and the answer is usually yes. It will depend on how cold it gets in your region of the country. Extremely cold temperature levels will freeze water even when it is dripping out of the faucet.

In normal cold weather, you can have a slow drip and your pipes should not freeze. The slow drip should be about 5 to 10 drops per minute, but you can change that speed if you think it is too slow.

Then it is possible to wait for a bit and see how low the temperature will drop. Usually, you do not have to turn on the faucet until the outside temperature gets to 28 degrees F for a minimum of 4 hours.

Anything higher or less than that you should be fine and not have frozen pipes. Also, when the freezing weather is over, don’t forget to turn the faucets off.

Is There Any Set Number of Faucets to Leave On

Two faucets on a wall outdoors, dripping

If the faucet is in the right location, you can get by with just opening up one faucet to prevent freezing. If it isn’t, then you may need to open up two or three to ensure that all your pipes are protected.

The right location is the faucet on the other end of the house from where the water pipe enters your home. This one faucet should allow for all the piping systems to run and stay unfrozen.

Of course, you can insulate any pipes in unprotected areas to avoid this problem or just select the faucets that serve any pipes that are unprotected.

Will it Take Long for Pipes to Freeze and Burst

Clock in snow on blue background

Depending on your home situation and how protected your pipes are, the usual time frame is 4 to 5 hours before they will freeze and burst. if the area around your unprotected pipes reaches 20 degrees or less, then expect your pipes to freeze.

Keep in mind that if the level of temperature in those areas gets really low, even a dripping faucet will not protect them. Also, outdoor faucets may freeze faster and at higher temperatures than indoor pipes. You may need to insulate them to protect the pipes from being frozen.

Remember that dripping faucets waste water. You should only turn on those faucets that are connected to pipes that are unprotected or uninsulated. To keep your pipes from freezing or bursting, it is a good idea to wrap some pipe insulation around them.

Some Final Words

Sunrise behind a dripping outdoor faucet

It does not take much to protect your pipes from the cold weather. the dripping faucet answer is the cheapest and easiest solution. However, adding insulation to those unprotected pipes will keep you from having an expensive plumbing repair bill.

Prevention is 90% of the cure-all the time.

Please keep in mind that we may receive a small commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

Patinaed brass outdoor faucet, dripping

How to Fix a Dripping Outdoor Faucet

Stainless steel restaurant grade counter

How to Clean Grease off Stainless Steel