At What Temperature Do Pipes Freeze?

temperature-pipes-freeze Credit: iStock

Anytime the temperature outside drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the water inside the pipes starts expanding, which may cause the pipes to burst. Pipes or hoses that are located outside, in unheated areas of the house or along exterior walls without sufficient insulation are most likely to freeze and burst.

Frozen pipes are a common problem in the winter months, when temperatures are regularly below freezing. However, there are many ways to avoid frozen or burst pipes.

Drain Water From Hoses and Pipes
Before the weather starts to cool down in the fall, drain water from outdoor swimming pools and sprinkler systems. Drain water from outdoor hoses and keep all valves open, so that if water remains in the pipe it can safely drain out over time. The easiest way to prevent pipes from expanding and bursting is to empty the water out when the weather is still above freezing, before the water has a chance to begin freezing and expanding.

Insulate Exposed Pipes
Look around the home for areas where pipes are exposed to the cold. Insulate attics, basements, and crawl spaces. This will help these cold areas retain heat, reducing the chance of pipes in these areas bursting. Insulate pipes in places such as kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and in basements or garages.

Keep Water Moving
When the temperature drops below freezing, keeps faucets on at a slow trickle. Water moving through the pipes can help to prevent the pipes from freezing and expanding. Keep faucets on at a low level overnight and when the house is empty until the outdoor temperatures have risen to above freezing.

Keep the House Warm
During cold weather, keep your home at a stable temperature throughout the day and night, so that cold nighttime temperatures don't freeze any water in the pipes. If leaving your home for an extended amount of time, set the thermostat at at least 55° F.