If your area experiences prolonged low temperatures below freezing, letting just 5 drops of water per minute drip from one of your faucets can prevent frozen pipes and plumbing damage. But why should you drip faucets, and how does it help prevent pipes from freezing?
When To Drip Faucets To Protect Your Plumbing
The National Weather Service recommends letting water drip from your faucets when temperatures dip below 20 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours at a time.
Whether it’s below freezing all day long or just overnight, dripping your faucets can help prevent the loss of running water and substantial plumbing damage.
Depending on where you live, the onset of freezing temperatures during winter can create plumbing issues. The worst thing that can happen is the cold outside affecting your indoor plumbing, resulting in frozen plumbing and broken pipes.
Why Drip Faucets During Freezing Temperatures?
Moving water takes longer to freeze than standing water. Since your pipes contain standing water whenever faucets aren’t running, dripping faucets keeps water moving and can prevent your pipes from freezing.
Furthermore, letting faucets drip relieves the water pressure from your pipes that often leads to pipe bursts during freezing weather.
How Much Water Should Drip From The Faucet?
Very little water needs to drip in order to keep your pipes from freezing. A slow rate of 5 drips per minute is enough to keep water moving within your pipes to prevent freezing.
Should I Run Hot or Cold Water to Keep Pipes From Freezing?
Running cold water is enough to prevent pipes from freezing. Since the water entering your house is cold, running cold water will keep a constant flow from the water supply line all the way to each faucet.
Does Dripping Faucets Waste Water?
Since very little water is needed to drip from a faucet, the cost is negligible. It costs less than $1 per month to let a faucet drip at a slow pace.
Let’s say your town charges $4 per cubic foot of water used. Since a cubic foot contains almost 600,000 drips of water, it would take 83 days for a dripping faucet to use $4 worth of water. Unless your town is restricting water use, it is cost effective to drip your faucets to avoid damage to your plumbing.
Can Pipes Burst Even When Dripping Faucets?
Dripping doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of a pipe burst. That is because water in pipes freezes and expands, creating pressure which could potentially cause it to burst at its weakest point.
Even though the water is constantly running and the pressure is minimized, it can still freeze overtime if the flow is too slow or if the temperature drops well below freezing.
How Many Dripping Faucets Are Needed?
In most situations, allowing just one faucet to drip will keep the water flowing and reduce water pressure during freezing temperatures.
More dripping faucets might be needed in cases of sub-zero weather or in very large homes.
Which Faucets To Drip?
Having a slow dripping faucet farthest away from your water meter reduces the risk of frozen pipes in your home. This allows water to travel throughout most of the plumbing system.
If your water meter connects to the center of your home, consider letting a faucet on each side of your house drip to ensure all pipes are running.
Other faucets that should be drip are those with plumbing in external walls and any outdoor plumbing fixtures, such as an outdoor shower or sink.