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Running a Faucet Keeps Pipes from Freezing - True or False?

We’ve always heard to run a faucet in freezing temperatures to prevent our home’s pipes from freezing, but does it actually work?Frozen pipe

Leaving a faucet open during freezing cold weather can actually help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting during the winter months. However, there is a right and a wrong way of doing this, plus additional factors to take into consideration before you start.

Why Frozen Pipes are Problematic

Pipes that freeze are those that are exposed to severe cold. Pipes in areas like crawl spaces, basements, attics, garages, or underneath the kitchen sink are prone to freezing because they’re in unheated areas of the home. Exterior wall pipes that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

Water expands when it freezes, which, in turn, will put extreme amounts of pressure on the pipes that are containing it. Pipes, metal or plastic, can only handle so much pressure before they eventually burst, causing flooding in your home.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

A trickle of water helps prevent frozen pipes, but it can still happen even with a slow flow. Rather, opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that can build if a pipe begins to freeze. If there is no excessive water pressure, a pipe can’t burst even if the water inside the pipe is frozen.

There is a correct way of running the faucet to prevent your pipes from freezing. Here are the do’s and don’ts to take into consideration:

  • Allow a slow drip to reduce pressure.

  • Run a faucet in the back of the home.

  • Run hot and cold water.

  • Run multiple faucets.

  • Run faucets in colder areas of the home.

  • Don’t turn off the faucet if the dripping stops.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. If your pipes do freeze, knowing how to thaw them out quickly can help prevent problems such as flooding and mold growth.

  • Apply heat to frozen pipes using an electric heating pad, a hair dryer, a portable space heater, or towels soaked in hot water. Continue doing this until full water pressure is restored.

  • Don’t use any open flames to thaw a frozen pipe.

  • Keep the faucet open. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.

  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

If you cannot find the frozen pipe, if the area is not accessible, or if the pipe won’t thaw, call a licensed plumber.

Protecting your Pipes

There are steps you can take to protect your pipes from freezing in the future.

  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.

  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces.

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.

  • Drain water from water sprinkler supply lines and swimming pools.

  • Place an insulating dome on outdoor spigots.

  • Consider installing specific products made to prevent water pipes from freezing such as foam pipe wrap insulation, UL-listed heat tape, or heat cables.

If you suspect a frozen pipe, let the experts at Raby Plumbing help. Give us a call at (918) 224-6471 any time for emergency service. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience.

Resources found on our website are provided as general guidelines, and Raby Plumbing does not assume any liability resulting from the provided information.

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