What Temperature Do Plumbing Pipes Freeze?


As winter approaches and temperatures start to drop, it’s important for homeowners to know the temperature at which pipes can freeze. When the water in pipes turns to ice, it expands and can cause burst pipes that can lead to massive water damage in your home. By knowing the freezing temperature of your area, you can take preventative steps to keep your pipes from freezing. Read on to learn more about what temperatures cause pipes to freeze and how you can protect your home!

What temperature do pipes freeze?

Pipes can freeze when the temperature outside dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the actual temperature that causes pipes to freeze can vary depending on the factors mentioned above. Most plumbing pipes are at risk of freezing at or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This is commonly referred to as the pipe’s “temperature alert threshold”. The University of Illinois actually conducted a study that analyzed the freezing point of pipes. They placed water pipes in an unheated, insulated attic and found that ice would begin below 20 degrees.

What factors affect if pipes freeze or not?

 There are actually a few different factors that can affect whether or not your pipes are likely to freeze.

First, the type of pipe material can make a difference. For example. copper pipes will typically have thin walls, and are more likely to freeze than the flexible walls of PEX piping. Most pipe bursts are caused by the water freezing in the pipe. As the water freezes, it expands and puts pressure on the pipe walls. If the pipe material is unable to handle that pressure, it will burst.

Second, the location of the pipes also plays a role. Pipes that run through an outside wall or an unheated space are more likely to freeze than those that are located in a heated area of your home. Pipes that are insulated are also less likely to freeze than those that are not.

Finally, the temperature outside also affects the risk of frozen pipes. Obviously, the colder it is outside, the more likely it is that your pipes will freeze. 

How long does it take for plumbing pipes to freeze?

It can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days for pipes to freeze depending on the outside temperature, the amount of wind, and how well your home is insulated. Pipes that are exposed to the elements or not properly insulated are most susceptible to freezing.

What should I do if my pipes freeze?

If you think that your pipes might be frozen, it’s important to take action quickly. The longer the pipes are frozen, the greater the risk of them bursting. First, test your faucets to see if the water is still flowing. If the water is not flowing, or if it’s coming out in very small drips, this is a sign that your pipes may be frozen. Once you’ve confirmed that your pipes are frozen, you’ll want to call a plumber. They will be able to thaw your pipes and make any necessary repairs.

You can try thawing your pipes yourself, but it’s important to exercise caution. Never use a blow torch or any other open flame to thaw your pipes, as this can be extremely dangerous. Instead, use a hair dryer or space heater. Start by heating the area around the frozen pipe and then work your way down the length of the pipe. Once the water starts flowing again, be sure to open all of your faucets to help relieve any built-up pressure in the system.

If your pipe bursts, you will want to shut off the water to your home immediately. You can do this by locating the main water shut-off valve and turning it to the “off” position. Once the water is shut off, you’ll want to call a plumber to make the necessary repairs.

How can I prevent my pipes from freezing?

There are a few things you can do to help prevent your pipes from freezing. First, make sure that all of your exterior doors and windows are properly sealed to help keep the cold air out. You can also insulate your pipes to help keep them from freezing. This is especially important for pipes that run through an exterior wall or an unheated space. You can use pipe insulation sleeves, heat tape, or pipe wraps to insulate your pipes. Heating cables can also be used, but should only be installed by a professional.

You should also allow a trickle of water to flow from your faucets when the temperature outside dips below freezing. This can help keep the water moving and prevent it from freezing in the pipes. Just be sure not to let the water run too long, as this can waste water and increase your bill. Finally, make sure that your thermostat is set to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even when you’re not home. This will help ensure that your home stays warm enough to prevent your pipes from freezing.

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