Does One Dripping Faucet Really Prevent Frozen Pipes?

2 Mins read


The winter season is that time of the year when burst pipes claims are the most prevalent especially during the occurrence of freezing temperatures. The claims for homeowners during that time of year average greater than $10,000 for frozen pipe damage. This $10,000 figure can seem mild when considering the claim average for business owners. Business owners claims for water leakage from pipes that have been frozen can average $27,000. 

A Philadelphia Insurance Company even documented that these types of claims can go into the millions of dollars. Now, imagine that one does not have insurance and would have to come up with this amount of money out of pocket to make repairs. Even consider the insurance companies who would not want to see a voluminous amount of claims in reference to freezing pipes during the winter season. Could there be a simple solution? Well, this plumber in Garland and others say leaving a dripping faucet can prevent frozen pipes which can lead to heavy damage and costly repairs. However, there was some documentation found that stated a dripping faucet left on to prevent bursting pipes is a myth. 

This plumber in Garland advised that a running water tap can actually have a knock-on effect or as some would say an unintended effect. This adverse effect could cause issues elsewhere. It documented examples of the fact that the water could freeze the drain as it is trying to leave the sink. The drain could be blocked leaving the sink to fill up with water and cause an overflow. However, on the other hand, there was lots of documentation that supports leaving a dripping faucet. One can put a lot of value on this small little tip to help prevent property damage due to bursting pipes during those cold winter months. 

The information found in the documentation was convincing as it explained that most think that the water constant flow is what keeps the pipes from bursting. Although the continuous flow of water helps some, water can actually freeze while moving if temperatures are extreme enough. However, further investigation explained that it is the fact that the dripping faucet relieves pressure. Yes, the actual drip helps to alleviate the build up of pressure. So, when the water in the pipes begin to melt down, the pipes will not have any pressure and will not burst or explode. (It was also stated that the main incoming water source and the faucet that is left dripping should have a great amount of distance between them so that the flow of water can run through the length of the entire system.)

Water expands when it freezes. This expansion of water can put a stress on metal and/or plastic pipes especially at the pipe joints. This is the cause of the damage of the pipes which leads them to burst when they begin to thaw. To further explain, the ice blockage that has been expanded and shrunk increased the water pressure which simply bursts or explodes when the ice blockage begins to melt (the pent=up water pressures has to be relieved). Therefore, this simple tip of leaving a dripping water tap can actually help. Also, always be mindful of attics, garages and even basements and crawl spaces because these unheated areas can impersonate the temperature outdoors. In addition, exterior walls that have pipes that run along them should be well insulated. For faucets and pipes that might be located in a cabinet in a less used area, make sure to open the cabinet so that the warmth of the house can help.