At first, this question might seem to have an obvious answer. If there are faucets that are dripping that you cannot turn off, it’s probably worth calling a plumber and trying to fix the problem immediately. However, in this article, we are looking at a different kind of dripping faucet.
Instead, this article is about deliberately letting faucets drip to stop pipes from freezing during cold weather. Let’s answer a few questions about this activity below.
Why and When Should You Drip Faucets?
There is one reason why letting faucets drip is important for your taps, and it’s all got to do with cold weather.
During very cold winter months, some water pipes may begin to freeze if they are exposed to temperatures that are low enough. This will be more likely if they are located outside, or in areas that can become extremely cold.
Pipes freezing is, of course, a big problem. It will mean that water will not flow through, which will mean no running water in your household. In addition, frozen water in pipes can cause pipes to burst, which will require an emergency plumber.
Why do frozen pipes lead to rupturing? When water freezes, it will also expand. This will create a great deal of pressure in your pipes and could easily lead to bursting. Of course, burst pipes can lead to major damage and flooding in your home, which will be extremely expensive to repair.
So how do you prevent pipes from freezing? The solution is to let pipes drip during cold times, as this ensures water flows through and is less likely to freeze. A small amount of water will usually be enough to make sure that freezing does not occur. Something well worth doing to avoid a huge problem down the road!
How Many Should I Let Drip?
Since dripping faucets will help prevent your pipes from freezing or bursting in cold periods, it’s worth asking which faucets and how many you should let drip. The fact is that the most important thing to consider is which faucets you choose, rather than just how many.
To put it plainly, all faucets connected to pipes that are exposed to cold will need to be turned on. If you have a faucet that has a pipe leading directly to your hot water system, it won’t be necessary to let this faucet drip.
But any pipe that gets exposed to the cold, such as one that runs outside the house or through cold areas on the edge of your home, will need to be dripped. Any pipe that allows water to travel a far distance across your home will also need to be dripped, as the water may freeze on the long journey.
It’s worth noting that if you open one faucet along the pipe, especially ones closer to the beginning of the pipe, other areas of the pipe can still freeze up. A better idea would be to drip the faucets that are furthest from your water source, as this will get water moving through the whole system.
Should You Drip Hot Water or Cold In Order to Avoid Freezing?
If you have pipes used exclusively for hot water, you may think that these will not need to be dripped. This would be a mistake! In freezing temperatures, hot water pipes can still get to freezing temperatures very quickly.
In sub-zero temperatures, it can take just an hour or less for hot pipes to freeze. So both hot and cold water pipes must need to be allowed to drip. If you only drip one, you may still get problems with the other.
How Much of a Drip to Keep Pipes From Freezing?
You may be concerned about wasting water due to money or environmental concerns. There is no need to worry since you do not need to let the faucets drip too much. If you have faucets dripping at around 5 to 10 drops per minute, that will be fine.
Should You Allow Dripping From Indoor and Outdoor Faucets?
Absolutely! You will need to let both kinds of faucets drip at your household to prevent freezing. It’s the faucets that are outside your home that will be at the greatest risk since they will be most exposed to the elements.
Outside of your home, if you are not dripping faucets in freezing weather, these are sure to face the most problems. Even pipes that run along the edge of an exterior wall will need attention. Make sure to check all pipes in your household, and find out which ones will be exposed to harsh temperatures.
So outdoor faucets must be allowed to drip. Even though they are located outside, the water source will still be in your home, so if freezing occurs and pipes burst, there will be major problems in your basement.
How Expensive Are Dripping Faucets?
The answer to this question depends on your location. To put it plainly, you may live in an area where water costs are costly or where they are quite low. You may even be lucky enough to live somewhere where water usage is free. In that case, the only difficult thing about letting your taps leak will be the annoyance it causes!
Nevertheless, it has been estimated that leaky faucets can cost up to $20 a year. So if you only need to let faucets drip during the three months of winter, you are perhaps looking at around $5 a year. Given the cost, if freezing would occur, this is a pretty worthwhile investment.
The fact is that although it’s not perfect to have a leaky faucet in your home, it’s an absolute necessity if you’re facing freezing temperatures. Despite the cost and inconvenience, it will end up saving you a great deal of money and stress in the long run. Even if you need to turn on every tap in your house, it will still save you money in the long run!