Heritage Council Neighborhoods What Temp Do Pipes Freeze in a House

What Temp Do Pipes Freeze in a House


What Temp Do Pipes Freeze in a House?

Winter can be a challenging time for homeowners, especially when it comes to protecting their plumbing system from freezing temperatures. Frozen pipes can lead to costly repairs and extensive damage to your home. Therefore, it is crucial to understand at what temperature pipes freeze in a house and take necessary precautions to prevent such incidents.

Pipes typically freeze when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius). However, it is important to note that this is a general guideline, and several factors can contribute to pipes freezing at higher temperatures. For instance, the duration of the freezing temperatures, the insulation of the pipes, the location of the pipes within the house, and the presence of drafts can all impact when pipes freeze.

To prevent pipes from freezing, here are some precautionary measures you can take:

1. Insulate your pipes: Insulating pipes located in unheated areas such as attics, crawl spaces, and garages can help protect them from freezing.

2. Keep a consistent temperature: Maintain a consistent temperature throughout your home, especially during cold spells. Lowering the thermostat at night can put your pipes at risk.

3. Open cabinet doors: To allow warm air to circulate around pipes under sinks, open cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathrooms.

4. Let faucets drip: Allowing faucets to drip slightly can relieve pressure in the pipes and prevent them from freezing.

5. Disconnect outdoor hoses: Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses to prevent water from freezing within them and potentially damaging the connected pipes.

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6. Seal drafts: Inspect your home for air leaks and seal them, especially in areas where pipes are located, to prevent cold air from reaching them.

7. Use pipe heating cables: Consider using pipe heating cables, which can be wrapped around pipes to provide an additional layer of insulation.

8. Locate your main water shutoff valve: In case of a frozen pipe burst, knowing the location of your main water shutoff valve can help you quickly stop the flow and minimize damage.

9. Drain your sprinkler system: If you have an irrigation system, make sure to drain it before the first freeze to prevent damage to the underground pipes.

10. Maintain adequate heating in unoccupied spaces: If you have a vacation home or a vacant property, ensure that the heating system is properly maintained to prevent frozen pipes.

11. Seek professional help: If you are unsure about the insulation of your pipes or need assistance with preventive measures, it is wise to consult a professional plumber who can evaluate your system and offer expert advice.


1. What happens if pipes freeze in a house?
When pipes freeze, the water inside expands, potentially leading to a burst pipe. This can cause significant water damage to your home and require costly repairs.

2. How long does it take for pipes to freeze?
The time it takes for pipes to freeze depends on various factors, including the temperature, pipe insulation, and location. In general, it can take several hours for pipes to freeze.

3. Can pipes freeze if the heat is on?
Yes, pipes can still freeze even if the heat is on. If the temperature drops significantly and the insulation is inadequate, pipes can still freeze.

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4. Will a dripping faucet prevent pipes from freezing?
Allowing faucets to drip can relieve pressure in the pipes, reducing the risk of freezing. However, it is not a foolproof method and should be accompanied by other preventive measures.

5. How can I thaw frozen pipes?
If you suspect frozen pipes, it is best to call a professional plumber to safely thaw them. Using heat sources such as hairdryers or open flames can be dangerous and potentially cause further damage.

6. How can I tell if my pipes are frozen?
Signs of frozen pipes include little to no water flow, frost or condensation on exposed pipes, and strange odors coming from faucets or drains.

7. Are certain pipes more prone to freezing?
Pipes located in unheated areas such as basements, attics, crawl spaces, and exterior walls are more susceptible to freezing.

8. Can I use antifreeze to prevent pipes from freezing?
Antifreeze should not be used in plumbing systems, as it can be harmful to humans and the environment. It is best to utilize insulation and other preventive measures.

9. How can I protect water pipes during a power outage?
Keep cabinet doors open, use a backup generator, and consider draining the water system if a power outage is expected to last for an extended period.

10. Should I leave the heat on when I’m away during winter?
It is recommended to maintain a minimum temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius) to prevent pipes from freezing when you are away for an extended period.

11. Are there any signs of frozen pipes I should look out for after thawing?
After thawing, check for leaks, unusual noises, or changes in water pressure, as these could indicate damage caused by frozen pipes.

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