Many parts of the country are expecting temperatures to turn frigid over the next few months. When they do, the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting increases exponentially. A broken water pipe can create a mess that is costly to repair and clean up. Homeowners can expect to pay $4,000 or more depending on the extent of the water damage.
The bursting of water pipes is one of the most common plumbing issues with which homeowners must contend. Frozen water pipes, either in the house or the supply lines, can burst when pressure accumulates because of the expanded mass of ice. Any water upstream from the blocked area in the pipe will leak until someone makes the appropriate repairs.
The pipes that are especially at risk are those in unheated interior areas such as attics, garages, and basements. Still, the pipes running through cabinets or exterior walls are not exempt from freezing. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to keep your water flowing and your house dry.
Get a jump on cold weather
The temperatures are starting to drop outside, so homeowners need to take measures inside so the pipes stay warm and the water keeps running. Some of the following suggestions might seem counterintuitive since experts remind everyone to conserve water and energy. Still, the repair bill for frozen and burst pipes far outweighs any extra heating and water expenses you will incur.
- If any of your sinks are on an exterior wall, open those cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate the pipes.
- Keep garage doors closed if water supply lines are running through the garage.
- Don’t turn the thermostat back too far at night, and, if you are leaving home for days, do not set the thermostat any lower than 55 degrees.
- Let a faucet drip to prevent freezing pipes.
Dripping faucets in freezing weather could prevent significant repairs
You might not have heard that you should leave a faucet dripping to prevent your pipes from freezing and perhaps costing you thousands of dollars in water damage. Allowing a faucet to drip during frigid weather could actually keep a pipe from bursting. You may leave more than one faucet dripping, but if you only leave water dripping in one faucet, you must be sure it is the right one.
Check where the water comes into your house, and then turn on a cold-water faucet at the other end of the house. Doing this allows your water to travel through the whole system. Remember that you only need five to ten drops per minute to relieve pressure on the plumbing system.
When you leave a faucet dripping, you waste some water, just as setting the thermostat higher wastes heat and energy. Remember, the cost of a frozen pipe is considerably higher than letting the faucet drip.
When should you leave your faucets dripping?
Knowing when to drip your faucets is crucial. Here are some of the times when you should leave water dripping from an inside faucet:
- Before freezing weather arrives: If you know that the overnight temperature is predicted to drop to 28 degrees or below, leave a faucet dripping slowly during the night to keep your pipes flowing.
- During snow, ice, and sub-freezing temperatures: When you experience these extreme conditions, drip those faucets whose pipes border an outside wall or are in an unheated area. Attics, utility rooms, basements, laundry rooms, and garage sinks are likely candidates for dripping water.
- When you are leaving your house for a period: If you plan to be away for the holidays, for instance, leave a faucet dripping. Be sure the dripping tap is far away from where the pipe enters the house to ensure that the entire system will be pressurized, and the threat of frozen pipes will be diminished.
Dripping your faucets in freezing weather is one preventive measure you can take to protect your home. Reviewing your homeowners insurance coverage is another.