Bathrooms

When to drip faucets – and the biggest mistakes to avoid

This is the temperature when your faucets become a 'real threat' – and the biggest mistake to avoid during the dripping process

A split image of bathroom taps
(Image credit: VitrA / Getty Images / Julie Soefer/Marie Flanigan Interiors)

Knowing exactly when to drip faucets is far from common knowledge. However, as temperatures continue to fringe on freezing on both sides of the Atlantic, it's a question that needs answering. 

Can you get away with waiting another week – or are your taps under threat right now? Here, those in the know share exactly when to drip faucets – and the most common dripping mistake you should avoid in the process. These bathroom ideas might just save your taps this season.  

When to drip faucets – your questions, answered

White sinks in a white bathroom

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

'Frozen pipes become a real threat at 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.6 Celcius) or lower,' explains Jake Romano, a plumber at an Ottawa Plumbing and Drain Cleaning Company. In these temperatures, Jake explains that you should drip your faucet if it is connected to a pipe. 

'When the temperature falls below freezing, and a water supply is exposed to these freezing temperatures, the water can freeze in the pipe. When this happens, the water in the pipe expands. Without anywhere to go, your pipe can expand and break,' he shares.

Similarly, Enoch Heise, from one of the highest-rated plumbing companies in the Dallas Metroplex, Legacy Plumbing, reiterates Jake's warning. 

Headshot of Enoch Heise from Journeyman Plumber at Legacy Plumbing, Inc.
Enoch Heise

Enoch Heise is a professional plumber at Legacy Plumbing, Inc., one of the highest-rated plumbing companies in the Dallas Metroplex. 

Bathroom mirror ideas with round mirror and red wall

(Image credit: Future)

He adds that he also recommends dripping your faucets at this time of the year – especially when they are located on the exterior walls of the home. 'It is also a good idea to open the cabinet doors to help circulate warm air near the pipes,' Enoch adds. 

What is the most common faucet dripping mistake?  

Cole & Son Leopard walk wallpaper in bathroom

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti )

You may now know when to drip faucets, but the tricky part is still to come. Enoch warns that many people often forget to drip both the hot and cold water through the faucet – leaving your pipes unprotected at the end of the process. 

'This can be trickier with single-handle faucets like many kitchen sink faucets. It is critical, though. If water isn't flowing through either the hot or the cold, then you won't have any freeze protection for those pipes,' he says. 

After designing a bathroom, the plumber adds that you should also remember to 'make sure that any toilets on the outside wall are flushed on a frequent basis' for the same reason.

These large and small bathroom ideas will ensure your home flows throughout the winter season. For now, we're keeping a watchful eye on the thermometer.

FAQs

When can I stop dripping my faucets? 

Knowing when to stop dripping faucets is important for several reasons: conserving water, reducing your water bill, and preventing potential damage to your plumbing system.

If you've left your faucets dripping to prevent pipes from freezing during cold weather, you can stop once temperatures are consistently above freezing. This is typically when the weather forecast indicates that the daytime and nighttime temperatures will stay above 32°F (0°C).

How many faucets should I drip?

To answer this question, it’s important to consider the layout of your plumbing and the areas that are most vulnerable to the cold. Start by identifying faucets that are connected to pipes in unheated or exposed areas, such as exterior walls, unheated attics, basements, or crawl spaces, since these are most at risk.

In general, you should let at least one faucet drip in each section of your home. This is particularly crucial if your home has multiple floors or distinct areas, like an extension or a wing. If you have the option, choose faucets that allow you to control hot and cold water separately and let both drip slightly. This ensures that both hot and cold water lines are less likely to freeze.

Will shutting off water keep pipes from freezing?

Shutting off the main water supply to your home can be an effective step in preventing your pipes from freezing, particularly if you're planning to be away during cold weather. When the water is turned off, it's also important to drain the pipes by opening faucets. This helps by removing water that could potentially freeze and cause pipes to burst. Remember, it's not just about stopping the flow of water but also about ensuring there's no standing water left in the pipes that could freeze.

What temperature should my home be to prevent pipes from freezing?

To prevent your pipes from freezing during winter, it's generally recommended to keep your home's interior temperature at around 55˚F. This is also the ideal temperature to set your thermostat on when on winter vacation

This temperature is warm enough to help reduce the risk of freezing in the pipes inside your house, particularly those running through unheated areas like basements or attics. Maintaining this temperature is key to protecting your pipes throughout the cold season.


In addition to staying on top of your internal plumbing systems, it's important to learn how to protect an outdoor faucet too. External faucets are directly exposed to the elements and can be the first to freeze in winter, so covering your outdoor faucet is usually a good idea. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.

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