Does One Dripping Faucet Really Prevent Frozen Pipes?



Winter is quickly approaching, and the one thing that strikes fear in the hearts of all homeowners is frozen pipes. We’ve all heard the tip to leave one faucet dripping to prevent frozen pipes, but is that really true? Actually, it is. Burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage during a bout of freezing temperatures, with homeowners averaging more than $10,000 in damages. One dripping faucet can actually save the day — if it’s the right one. The dripping faucet should be as far away from the water source as possible so the water will flow through the entire length of the system. If you aren't sure where the incoming water source is located, setting any faucet to drip will help. A common misconception is that the drip prevents water from freezing because it stays in motion when it's running through the pipes. Although this helps, the truth is that at extreme temperatures water can freeze even while it's flowing. The real reason a dripping faucet can help prevent pipes from bursting is that the constant drip relieves pressure that's building up in the pipes between the ice blockage and the faucet, and it helps to prevent them from bursting when the pipes begin to thaw. When a cold snap hovers around or below 20º F, it's time to let at least one faucet drip. Pay close attention to water pipes that are in attics, garages, basements or crawl spaces because temperatures in these unheated interior spaces usually mimic outdoor temperatures. If a faucet is located in a base cabinet in a kitchen or bathroom, open the cabinet doors to allow the home's warmer air to reach the pipes. It’s also a good idea to know where the main shut-off valve is in your home, in case a pipe does burst or leak. If you know how to quickly shut off this water source, it could turn a huge flooding disaster into a minor inconvenience — and save you money in the process.