When to Leave Faucets Dripping
If your taps don’t work in winter, and you know you pay your water bill, it may be time for a drip. When the temperature drops below 20°F (-6°C), the risk of frozen pipes rises.
Not having running water is annoying at best, but the real trouble starts when the ice starts to melt. The worst-case scenario is a broken pipe and serious water damage. When you break a pipe, how much does it cost?
Well, it can cost $200-$5,000 or more to fix a broken plumbing system. On top of that, water damage can ruin the interior of your home.
Even if your homeowner’s insurance covers the cost of repairing the broken pipe, you won’t have running water and could be temporarily displaced until the repairs are completed. Now you may be able to get a nice hotel at the expense of your premiums and rates.
While it’s best to do this before the temperature reaches freezing, in most cases dripping your pipes will solve the problem. Check out these tips and tricks to avoid damaging your pipes during the winter months.
Do Water Pipes Freeze At 32 Degrees?
Have you ever turned on your garden hose and shot a tube of ice? Well, pipes freeze for the same reason. 32°F is both the freezing point and the melting point of water. At this temperature, your hose may freeze, but more likely it won’t. Temperatures below 20°F are in the danger zone.
And below zero temperatures are like kryptonite to your home’s indoor plumbing. The water expands as it turns to ice, putting pressure on the pipes. As the water pressure increases, the chances of the pipes bursting increase.
The diameter and material of the pipe affect the rate of freezing. Smaller pipes are more likely to freeze than relatively large pipes. Some materials, such as PVC, are more resistant to freezing than others. Copper, for example, will freeze more quickly.
If The Temperature Drops Quickly, These Are Two Of The First Things You Should Check.
- Insulation: poor insulation could be the source of the problem. Check your house for air leaks. Windscreens, double-paned windows and caulking are a few ways to improve insulation and retain heat. Keep an eye on attics, garages, and crawl spaces.
- Thermostats: If the thermostat is too low, there is a high likelihood of frozen pipes. We recommend keeping the thermostat above 55°F to prevent freezing.
If all your taps are not working, check the mains. You can usually protect your pipes by turning off one of the mains in your home (turn the valve to the off position).
How Much Water Do I Need To Drip To Keep My Pipes From Freezing?
Do I Need To Drip On All My Taps?
All you need is a thin stream of water to melt the ice and lower the water pressure. You should drip at least one tap and keep it running for at least 12 hours. One should be enough as the water will flow throughout the house.
According to the USGS (United States Geological Survey), one-tap dripping 60 drops per minute is equivalent to 5 gallons of water a day. Five gallons of water a day is about $2.00. I’ll take that any day over the cost of repairs, restoration and cleanup.
But at what temperature should you drain the water to prevent the pipes from freezing? Do you drip hot or cold water when the temperature is below freezing? Well, as long as the water temperature is over 20 feet, it doesn’t have to be hot and you should be fine. Over 32°F is even better.
Protect Your Pipes!
Here are some tips on how to winterize your house and prevent those pipes from bursting.
Before the freezing weather arrives. If you know that temperatures are expected to drop to 28 degrees or below at night, keep your pipes clear by letting the taps drip slowly at night.
In snow, ice and below-freezing temperatures: When you experience these extremes, drip those taps whose pipes are adjacent to external walls or located in unheated areas. Dripping can occur in attics, utility rooms, basements, laundry rooms and garage gutters.
Turn up your thermostat if you are going to be away for an extended period of time. Make sure your thermostat is above 55°F.
Seal cracks and air gaps: Look for areas of your house that are under-insulated both inside and outside. Cover the vents on the outside of your house.
Apply heating tape to your ducts. Heating tape, also known as electrical tape, will help keep your pipes insulated.
Add more insulation. Check windows, doors, walls, etc. for leaks and replace weather stripping. Very often, insulation can wear away to the point where it is ineffective. Check all internal walls to make sure they are insulated.
Remove garden hoses. Garden hoses can easily freeze. Also, open all cupboard doors to allow warm air into the ductwork.