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Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: February 02, 2011 04:43PM
Like most of the country, we'll be having a hard freeze here in Houston for the next few days. I believe low temps will get down to 21 or so. In fact, we had the freeze last night as well.

Anyway, our exterior pipes are pretty well insulated with the black foam or rubber wrap and I've placed those styrofoam "boxes" over all of our hose bibs.

I'm trying to figure out whether it's necessary to keep the taps in the house running overnight. What I did last night and the last time we had a bit of a freeze (several weeks ago) was to keep the hot/cold in all the bathtubs running (either fast drip or steady pencil-sized stream). Obviously, this wastes quite a bit of water and I'd rather not do it if it's really not necessary. On the flip side, I'd rather not "see" if it's okay not to do it and end up with a burst pipe.

So, I'm wondering if there's any current recommendations regarding this. I believe most of the piping in the attic is not really wrapped/insulated, but I'm not sure the air temp in the attic is going to be so cold.

I'd love to hear from anybody regarding this topic.

Thanks.



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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: mikebw
Date: February 02, 2011 04:49PM
I don't have any water pipes in the attic, but then my house was built for Maryland weather. I have never needed to leave my faucets running, even in the 10-20 degrees F range. Seems that if you are able to keep the air temperature in the house relatively warm you should not have any problems. But again, I don't know how construction for you house would differ from mine.
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: abevilac
Date: February 02, 2011 04:49PM
Is your home heater working? If no, then yes let them drip. If heat is on, then I'd say it's a waste of water. We're going down to 5 tonight and won't be doing anything like that. I do remember once when we hit -20 that we opened up the cabinets under the sink [which is an outside wall] to let the warmed air in a bit more. I'd say you're fine.
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: Michael
Date: February 02, 2011 04:49PM
Let them drip. Way better to waste a couple of gallons of water than to burst...
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: MacArtist
Date: February 02, 2011 04:55PM
I was under the impression you don't want warm air up in the attic because if you have warm air against a cold roof; you will have ice damming issues.

Our house is insulated very well and the attic is bone cold.

This is in Iowa so I'm not sure how things are insulated in Texas.

I would leave a steady drip on the faucets. I wouldn't want to fix a broken pipe in an attic unless it is easily accessible.



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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: February 02, 2011 04:57PM
Yeah, our heaters are working. In fact, we have 4 heaters and they've all been running to keep the house comfortable.

I read something online that it's not the water flowing through the pipe that keeps them from freezing but the release of pressure that prevents a burst pipe even if the water freezes (or something like that).

I'd imagine that our attic temp is maybe 10 degrees warmer than outside temp, which would mean something like 31 degrees tonite (if the outside temp is 21 degrees). I wonder if that plus the normal heating of our house is enough to keep the pipes safe.
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: billb
Date: February 02, 2011 05:01PM
If all your pipes are in the slab or interior walls they won't freeze.

Pipes in exterior walls can be problems but usually keeping the cabinet doors open at sinks keep those a bit warmer than usual.
You'd have to have no insulation at all and no heat to have problems at 21 overnight.

You probably have darned good insulation to keep the heat out of the cold water in the Summer. Will work well in the Winter, too.
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: maco
Date: February 02, 2011 05:02PM
I would err on the side of caution. If you are concerned about wasting water, then collect it and use it to water your plants.
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: February 02, 2011 05:03PM
Quote
maco
I would err on the side of caution. If you are concerned about wasting water, then collect it and use it to water your plants.

The plants will all probably be dead anyway by the time this freeze is over! J/K.
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: MikeF
Date: February 02, 2011 05:27PM
Come on, be a man! Take a bath in the freezing water that flows into the tub.
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: Jack D.
Date: February 02, 2011 05:57PM
I drip when the temp drops below 20 degrees. Wasting a couple of gallons of water is still way cheaper than what you'll pay a plumber to fix the busted pipes. Especially in hindsight...



- Jack D.




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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: February 02, 2011 05:59PM
depends upon whether the pipes will stay above freezing. but you knew that.

i don't see how insulation over exterior pipes could keep them from freezing if you have a decent temp drop.





VTPKL it!
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: testcase
Date: February 02, 2011 06:41PM
How difficult would it be to just drain the exterior lines?
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: Plumbking
Date: February 02, 2011 07:28PM
You just have to worry about the lines that are exposed (main coming in and hose bibbs).

If you are paranoid you can shut off the water main and drain the fixtures (releasing the pressure).

Good luck and stay warm.
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: Zoidberg
Date: February 02, 2011 07:29PM
Are we talking a drip, a trickle, or a small stream?

Freezing Temperatures
# For areas in which freezing weather is not common, faucets should be left dripping when the outside temperature hits 20 degrees F.


Read more: Dripping Faucets & Freezing Weather | eHow.com [www.ehow.com]



Now I know how my Dad felt when Elvis died. #RIPRobinWilliams
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: Jack D.
Date: February 02, 2011 09:14PM
Quote
Zoidberg
Are we talking a drip, a trickle, or a small stream?

Freezing Temperatures
# For areas in which freezing weather is not common, faucets should be left dripping when the outside temperature hits 20 degrees F.


Read more: Dripping Faucets & Freezing Weather | eHow.com [www.ehow.com]

I drip the hot and then crack the cold so it forms the smallest stream possible. That way I know I have both lines dripping.



- Jack D.




New tasteless sig coming soon!
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: February 02, 2011 10:32PM
Thanks for all of the replies. I think I'm going to go ahead and drip all the bathtubs in the house.
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Re: Let faucets drip during a hard freeze?
Posted by: Speedy
Date: February 02, 2011 10:59PM
Shut off your water heater, then let the water run from both taps.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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