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Dripping Water Can Prevent Frozen Pipes & Damage

It’s here….that time of year when temperatures drop below freezing & can stay below freezing for days on end.  Now is also the time to consider letting water faucets drip during those extended periods of extreme cold. 

The common belief is that dripping faucets prevent water from freezing because it stays in motion when it's running through the pipes. While that does help, even moving water can freeze if it’s cold enough long enough.  The primary reason a dripping faucet helps prevent pipes from bursting is that the constant drip relieves pressure that can build up in the pipes between an ice blockage and the faucet & it helps prevent the pipes from bursting when they begin to thaw. 

The best faucets to drip are the ones farthest from the incoming water source as possible so the water will flow through the entire length of the house’s water system.  Faucets that are attached to exposed pipes & pipes in exterior walls should also be allowed to drip.  Keeping cabinet doors open where pipes are located will expose them to the home’s interior heat, adding an extra layer of protection especially to pipes located on exterior walls.     

While dripping water may cause concern for those who like to keep their water bills low, letting faucets drip can save a resident from even bigger bills for repairing line breaks & the damage caused by those breaks.  And a slow drip will work just fine….there’s no need to have steady streams of water flowing out of every faucet.  Consider placing a bowl or pitcher under the faucet to catch the dripping water....water that can then be used to water plants, make a pot of coffee or hot chocolate, or any other common use for household water. 

If your pipes do freeze, do not turn the faucets off.  Leave them open so the water will have a place to go when it thaws.