In winter, the days become shorter and night becomes longer and colder. And in some regions, the temperatures drop below freezing. This time of the year is quite hard for homeowners since they start facing water-freezing issues in their pipes. To prevent that from happening, it is advised to let faucets drip constantly. However, people wonder how many faucets should they let drip.
To prevent your water pipes from freezing you will need at least one faucet to drip. This faucet should be far from the source line which is letting water into your house. However, if the house supply line extends to multiple sections, open a tap in each section. The dripping maintains water circulation and prevents water from freezing.
Further, in this article, I will discuss why you need to open your taps in winter and talk about ways through which you can prevent water from freezing in pipes.
Why do I need to Let Faucets Drip?
If you live in a region, where the temperature drops below 32 degrees or the freezing point, you would have noticed that the still water on roads or snow starts to freeze. Even the water inside the pipes can freeze.
When that happens, not only the water flow in the house stops but the pipes can also burst. Now, you may ask, why is that? When the water freezes and changes into ice, its volume increases by approximately 9%. This increase in volume puts a huge strain on the water pipes and they burst.
So, to avoid that from happening city councils advise homeowners to let their faucets drip during that time. In this way, the water remains in motion and doesn’t freeze.
When Should I let Faucets Drip?
Here is a list of three instances, in which you will need to let the indoor faucets drip.
#1 Temperatures Drop Below Freezing
In winter, when you observe that the temperature outside has started to drop and it may even go below freezing temperature, that’s the best time to open your faucets a little and let them drip.
#2 When it Snows
When it snows, it’s likely the water inside the pipes may freeze. So, in that case, again go with this option and let it drip.
#3 When You Are Leaving The House
If you are leaving your house for a couple of days, and you know that the temperature may drop during that time. It’s recommended to let the faucets drip because when you are out; due to lack of use, water will not circulate in the pipes. Being stationary, it will easily freeze.
How Many Faucets Should I Let Drip to Prevent Freezing?
Now, that you have learned why and when you should let faucets drip. The next frequently asked question is how many faucets should I open for freezing? Or How much water must drip to prevent freezing?
In normal circumstances, a single dripping faucet is enough for preventing the freeze. However, you should choose a faucet that is far enough from the point where the main water supply line is entering the house. A large distance ensures that water keeps circulating throughout all the pipes.
However, in some cases, if your water supply system is divided into multiple sections and branches. Open a couple of faucets that are far from the main entry point. Moreover, if the hot water supply lines are also outward facing, they are also prone to freezing. In that case, make sure to open a hot water tap as well.
Now, it is required to open the faucets to one-third or half; very slight dripping can do the job. The faucet dripping 10 to 12 drops of water a minute is fine.
What is the cost of Dripping Faucets?
Generally, people are concerned about how must a dripping faucet would cost. Will it drastically increase my water bill?
The exact cost will depend on your geographical and relevant taxes. However, the idea can be taken from the bill of a leaky faucet. A leaky faucet costs $20 yearly. Since you may need to drip the faucets for 3 to 4 months. So, you can expect a total of $5.
This cost is quite less than the damage freezing would cause. If water freezing results in a pipe burst, the repair would cost you anywhere between $400 to $500. And in some cases, it goes beyond $1000. So, the dripping is actually saving your dollars.
How to Prevent Water Pipes from Bursting during Winter?
As I have explicitly mentioned the freezing of water in the winter can be quite troublesome for you. So, I thought of providing you with some ways through which you can prevent the water pipes from bursting.
1. Wrap Heating Tap around Pipes
One of the ways to prevent water freezing is to insulate the pipes with heating tape. However, since these tapes are not ordinary, you have to use these tapes with precautionary measures. Some tapes come with a thermostat that needs to be turned on for proper functioning.
2. Let the faucets Drip
The second way obviously is letting the faucets drip in extreme weather. The theory behind it is quite simple. When a tap is slightly ON for dripping, water keeps moving in the pipes. This motion prevents freezing.
3. Remove water hoses from Outside Premises
Remove all water hoses that are exposed to the weather outside. Since they won’t be of any use this season, the best idea is to remove them.
4. Keep kitchen cabinets Open
In kitchens, the water pipes run through the cabinets. Since the kitchen is a warm place, compared to the rest of the house, opening the cabinets will let the warm air circulate around the water pipes.
What to do when you suspect a frozen pipe region?
When you open a faucet and no water comes out. Then, one of the possibilities in cold and freezing weather is that the pipe might have got frozen. In that case, first, trace the freezing location; it would be someplace outside where the pipe is exposed to the environment.
Once you have figured that out, turn off the main supply line and open indoor faucets, apply heat to the suspected area with an electric heater, or wrap hot water towels around the cold pipes. When water melts, the faucets would start dripping water. Immediately, turn on the main supply.
However, if you are unable to trace the frozen region, call a professional plumber right away. The frozen pipe can burst anytime causing damage to your whole plumbing system.
It’s hardly an exact science to keep pipes from freezing. Although there are precautions you may and ought to take, each home is different. Your individual home’s vulnerabilities, such as where you decide to drip water, how well-insulated it is, et cetera., will determine the steps you take. It also relies on the weather, including how cold it is and how long it stays below freezing.
Even if you take all reasonable precautions to avoid it, pipes can occasionally freeze. However, following simple measures like letting a water faucet drip is worth the time, effort, and cost of the water bill.
Amos Christen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Drexel University — Philadelphia, PA. Since 2003, Amos has worked with top interior design professionals in this area, including architects and interior/graphic/lighting designers. As a skilled interior designer, Amos Christen is highly versed in fine arts and crafts and uses that to supplement his main area of expertise. He often publishes articles related to home décor on several websites, including Sprucetoilets.com, Sprucebathroom.com, and Mybesuitedhome.com. He also contributes to leading interior design magazines.