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#1
Old 03-03-2013, 01:40 PM
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Do I need to let all the faucets in my house drip on very cold nights?

Growing up my parents would let all the faucets drip on very cold nights. Now I have my own home and my father in-law says that only the last faucet in the pipe line needs to drip. Is my father in-law correct or my parents?
#2
Old 03-03-2013, 01:45 PM
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We've never done this. How old is your house?

If there are there pipes in the exterior walls with no insulation between them and the exterior, I could see the need. I welcome other experiences, but a house built in the last... 50?, 100? years should not have a problem with pipes freezing.

ETA: OK, maybe not 100. But more than 50, I'd think.

ETA2: Where do you live? I live and grew up in Michigan.

Last edited by ZenBeam; 03-03-2013 at 01:48 PM.
#3
Old 03-03-2013, 01:46 PM
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it depends where your pipes run. Any pipes along outside walls or that run through a crawlspace are subject to freezing. So the faucet at the end of any such run would have to drip to prevent that. A dripping faucet will pull water from the source, either the street or a well, but it won't pull it from pipes that branch off along the way. Those branches need their own dripping faucet to keep from freezing. Adding pipe insulation is also a good way to deal with this, and on hot water pipes it keeps your energy bill down.
#4
Old 03-03-2013, 01:54 PM
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Totally depends on specifics. At my business, here is one fixture whose plumbing lies on an exterior poorly insulated wall. I let it drip anytime the temp drops below 10 Fahrenheit.

Our house never has problems, as the plumbing was done with freezes in mind.

Our barn water is housed in a small closet like space with two 100 Watt incandescent bulbs (getting hard to find them). Even with this setup, we have the line freeze if it is below zero.
#5
Old 03-03-2013, 02:04 PM
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I live in metro Atlanta, so I don't have to drip very often, only once so far this season. But the temp got down to 27ish last night and I think it's supposed to do the same tonight. The pipes in the crawl space are not wrapped, but there is insulation between the pipes and the floor boards.
#6
Old 03-03-2013, 02:11 PM
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If it gets below freezing and stays there for more than a couple of days, we just open the under-sink cabinet doors at night, which allows the warmer house air to circulate there. It really depends on where your pipes are routed and whether any areas nearby are heated. Insulation alone will not protect pipes from freezing.
#7
Old 03-03-2013, 03:00 PM
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To answer your question, your FIL is correct. You may have more than one line which would require you to drip more than one faucet.

Just a note. The drip does not need to be more than the thickness of a pencil lead. Not a pencil but the lead inside.
#8
Old 03-03-2013, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
Our house never has problems, as the plumbing was done with freezes in mind.
This has to be the most important factor, doesn't it? I've never heard of anyone with a house less than a hundred years old doing this around here except when the power goes out, but houses in northern New England are built with the understanding that dropping below freezing is something that happens regularly for months at a time.
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#9
Old 03-04-2013, 04:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
If it gets below freezing and stays there for more than a couple of days, we just open the under-sink cabinet doors at night, which allows the warmer house air to circulate there. It really depends on where your pipes are routed and whether any areas nearby are heated. Insulation alone will not protect pipes from freezing.
I agree. Excellent advice because closed cabinet doors definitely prevent warm air from circulating inside cabinets.
#10
Old 03-04-2013, 06:43 AM
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Exposed pipes in a crawl space can also be wrapped in heat tape if you're having problems.
#11
Old 03-04-2013, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
We've never done this. How old is your house?

If there are there pipes in the exterior walls with no insulation between them and the exterior, I could see the need. I welcome other experiences, but a house built in the last... 50?, 100? years should not have a problem with pipes freezing.

ETA: OK, maybe not 100. But more than 50, I'd think.

ETA2: Where do you live? I live and grew up in Michigan.
Well, our townhouse was built in the late 1980s.... and we had to leave the master bathroom shower dripping on especially cold nights. Just a handful of times over the 13 years we lived there, but it was necessary (stupid construction, that shower's pipes were on the back wall of the house and were almost certainly inadequately insulated).

We certainly never did it for any other faucets; none of them were on outside walls so were highly unlikely to freeze.
#12
Old 03-04-2013, 09:57 AM
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if you have a bathroom over an unheated crawlspace there is some chance of freezing the drain traps in the toilet and tub/shower. dripping water will add water to the tub/shower drain and will help and flushing the toilet will help.

if the crawlspace is uninsulated and unventilated during winter then heat may come from the living area. if the floor is insulated or it is ventilated then heating tape may be needed on pipes that contain water.
#13
Old 03-04-2013, 10:05 AM
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One way to tell how well insulated or not your pipe/particular pipe run to a given faucet is. Wait until you have a cold snap. Don't use the faucet for awhile. How cold did the water get after an hour, a few hours, a day with no use? Turn on the faucet and feel (or even better, measure the temp of the water coming out). A little cool after a couple days of cold weather? Pretty good. Very cold? Some caution might be in order. Obviously you kinda need to do this carefully and incrementally to not accidentally freeze the pipes.

Getting that very slow drip just right on many faucets can be a pain. So what I've often done is let the water blast right before bedtime until the water is as warm as it gets in addition to the drip.

Last edited by billfish678; 03-04-2013 at 10:06 AM.
#14
Old 03-04-2013, 10:30 AM
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If you reside in a mobile home, you want to let the faucets drip unless you have heat tape on all the pipes under the home.

I live in a home with a crawl space. If the temps get down to below 0 F, then I'll let the water drip. I do have foam insulation covering all the water pipes in the crawl space.
#15
Old 03-05-2013, 09:39 PM
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and, if you dislike the sound of a dripping faucet: tie a bit of string to the spout long enough to reach the bottom of the vessel - the water will flow down the string.
#16
Old 03-05-2013, 11:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
and, if you dislike the sound of a dripping faucet: tie a bit of string to the spout long enough to reach the bottom of the vessel - the water will flow down the string.
Or put a rag or sponge under the drip.
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