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How To Protect Outdoor Faucets From Freezing in Winter

stan's ac staff member demonstrating how to protect outdoor faucets from freezing

When water freezes, it expands. This can cause a pipe to burst—causing a flood—which could end up putting hundreds of gallons of water into your house. This could leave you with major water damage and costly repairs—a huge hassle. Fortunately, there are many ways to winterize your home to prevent plumbing damage, such as insulating your pipes, winterizing your heat pump, and taking steps to conserve heat in your home.

Another way to prevent pipes from freezing is to simply let water run through the pipes. By letting your faucets drip, you can keep the water moving through your pipes, rather than keep it stationary, where it’s more susceptible to freeze.

How to Drip Faucets To Prevent Freezing

Learn how to drip your faucets by following along as we answer the following frequently-asked questions.

Which faucets should I drip? Indoor faucets or outdoor faucets?

It’s generally recommended that you drip your kitchen faucet and outside hose-bibs only. Stan’s can cover all your exterior faucets with insulated foam to prevent your outdoor faucets from freezing as well.

How do I drip my faucets?

Turn on your faucet and let it drip. That’s the first step.

How much should I drip to prevent freezing?

Just enough to get the water to move through your pipes. It doesn’t have to be a lot. A flow of one gallon per hour is often enough to prevent them from freezing.

If you’re concerned about wasting water, consider setting a cup or bucket underneath your faucet to catch the drips and dribbles, rather than letting them flow down the drain. Then you can use the water for household cleaning or to water your plants later on.

How fast should the faucet drip to prevent freezing?

Let it drip slowly. It doesn’t have to drip fast. Just make sure it’s a consistent, even flow.

Should the water be hot or cold?

Cold works best. But any temperature will do.

How long should I let them drip?

Let the faucet drip until temperatures are above freezing.

What else should I do?

One way to make the drip even more effective is to open your cabinets and place a bright lightbulb inside. This will allow ambient heat to gently increase the temperature under your cabinets–increasing the temperature of your pipes–and making it easier for water to flow through them.

As mentioned above, it’s also important to keep the heat on in your home—at no less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit—day and night. This too can prevent the water in your pipes from freezing. For extra protection, you can also cover your outside hose bibs with foam insulation.

What do I do if Austin has a no drip ordinance and/or a boil water order?

If Austin orders a “no drip ordinance”–as the city sometimes does due to limited water supply–it means you shouldn’t drip water from your faucets. You can continue to protect your pipes from freezing by…

  • Opening your cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Disconnecting your hoses and insulating your outside faucets.
  • Setting your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If there is reason to suspect that public water could be contaminated, “a boil water order” may also take effect. In these instances, water you intend to drink should be brought to a full rolling boil for one minute and then cooled before consumption.

Prevent Your Faucets from Freezing With Professional Assistance

While many people assume that ‘protecting their faucets’ is only important for those who live up North, in traditionally ‘cold climates,’ people who live in the South often file just as many insurance claims for frozen pipes. Remember: uninsulated pipes in an outside wall or across an uninsulated attic are just as likely to freeze and burst. That’s why it’s important to take the aforementioned steps to prevent your pipes from freezing, as well as take other steps to insulate your pipes, even if you live in the Austin, Texas area.

Want professional assistance to prevent your pipes from freezing? Contact the heating and plumbing experts at Stan’s AC today. We can make sure all your pipes are ready for winter, and help with any repairs or replacements you might need to keep your home comfortable all year. Schedule your service now!