Frozen Pipes

Running faucet
@norcal (3215)
Nevada City, California
December 1, 2015 6:27pm CST
I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and went to get a drink of water. All I got was a little trickle out of my faucet. Here I was thinking we were all prepared for the snow, cold and possible power outage. I forgot to leave the water going at a trickle to keep the pipes from freezing. I knew that this could be a big mistake, it could take days for the pipes to thaw. When my husband got up he went to the well house and put his propane heater on out there. I had the valves open in the bathtub, and soon I heard air and water spurting out of the faucet. Crisis averted. You can bet I won't make that mistake again, at least not this winter. Do you take steps to prevent your pipes from freezing? Photo by the author
16 people like this
17 responses
@JudyEv (121004)
• Bunbury, Australia
2 Dec 15
I love this site! This is another thing that is totally foreign to me. Fancy having to leave a tap dripping all winter just so the pipes don't freeze. So much to learn - and I'm so old already.
4 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
Yep, it is a fact of life around here in the winter.
2 people like this
@Marcyaz (35695)
• United States
2 Dec 15
@norcal It sure is a fact of life around here.
2 people like this
@T_gray (7821)
• Salina, Kansas
2 Dec 15
I was just told I needed to turn my heater on before the weather started to get below freezing out. If I had my way I wouldn't have my furnace in, I would just use my space heaters. But I just turned the furnace on just a little bit so the pipes wouldn't freeze and I still use my space heaters. Lol.
3 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
We have gone back to wood heat after years of heating with propane.
3 people like this
@T_gray (7821)
• Salina, Kansas
2 Dec 15
@norcal I honestly didn't know I had to worry about a houses pipes freezing. When I lived in a mobile home I know I had to there, and I left the sink dripping
1 person likes this
@Marcyaz (35695)
• United States
2 Dec 15
e have had our furnace on for a while now but I do have a space heaer in the bathroom as I tend to get cold real easy.
1 person likes this
@marlina (72624)
• Canada
2 Dec 15
Yes, we did do the necessary things for the winter.
3 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
You really get some cold weather there.
@Marcyaz (35695)
• United States
2 Dec 15
Glad to hear you took precautions against the freezing weather and your pipes.
2 Dec 15
our house stays pretty warm, but my parents had to always leave the water running when i was a kid
3 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
I think it is the pipes in our well house that froze.
2 people like this
@nanette64 (17470)
• Fairfield, Texas
2 Dec 15
@norcal Hubby should probably add more insulation to the pipes in that area.
2 people like this
@Rollo1 (16649)
• Boston, Massachusetts
2 Dec 15
I had pipes that froze in a house we lived in a few years ago. It was just one set of pipes in one particular spot that obviously was not well insulated. I haven't had the problem in this house, though.
3 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
It can be a really serious problem. In one house we lived in, we had to replace all of the water pipes after there was an especially hard freeze and the pipes burst.
2 people like this
@Marcyaz (35695)
• United States
2 Dec 15
Good thing you don't have that problem in the house you live in now.
1 person likes this
@PhredWreck (6051)
2 Dec 15
I used to have that problem a few places I lived, but the bottom of one of the central heating ducts here is rusted out...I just left it that way since it keeps the pipes under the house from freezing.
3 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
Nice tip. Thanks
2 people like this
• Minneapolis, Minnesota
2 Dec 15
Yup I had my pipes freeze three times within a month. I had a guy come out to unthaw my pipes it only took about an hour but I had to leave the faucet at a steady trickle so they wouldnt freeze again and that lasted for the entire winter and my water bill was really high. I didnt realize your pipes could freeze in Cali
2 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
Well, I live in the Mountains. There are several ski resorts in California. We are not all Bikini Beach here.
2 people like this
• Minneapolis, Minnesota
2 Dec 15
@norcal Thats how I picture California, how clueless I am lol.
2 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
@Castlerock34 Don't feel bad, you are not the only one.
2 people like this
@ataboy (755)
• United States
6 Dec 15
If you can hear me from way over here in Florida, then I must ask "What is this madness you're speaking of? Frozen pipes? Huh? I thought things only froze when placed in the freezer - hence the name!" But I'll trust you at your word, Sherry! Interesting factoid, hot-water pipes generally tend to freeze first before cold-water pipes. And by "freeze" I mean to actually inhibit or impede the flow of water through them. The concept is referred to as the Mpemba effect, however the mechanism and validity of the effect are debatable under even more controlled conditions. Nevertheless, it can be observed in water pipes, although significant levels of impurities also are likely to play a role when comparing water pipes in this way too. By the way, how much does 'wasting' a winters worth of water to trickle/drip one's pipes ice-free all winter cost? Do you usually repurpose the water for other uses? Just curious...
2 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
6 Dec 15
We are on a well. It does take electricity to pump the water though. I can't say how much it costs, but less than replacing the pipes. We can put a bucket under the facet to catch water for the dogs or whatever. It will usually overflow though. We don't have to run the water all the time, just at night when we are expecting a hard freeze.
1 person likes this
@ataboy (755)
• United States
6 Dec 15
@norcal Well, I'm on a well too, two wells to be specific. Although I get city water as...uhh...[I]well[/I]. But, my well-water (which some colleges and I dug many a'year ago) has recently become saturated with dissolved sulfides (H2S: that, oh, so pleasant, rotten egg smell). It's to acidic to use on many of my plants or my ponds (more specifically the fish that inhabit them dislike it when I kill them by adding some, so I don't do it!) I've all but stopped using it these days, since this was largely what I used it for anyway. Frankly, in my climate the only real danger involved might be the pump itself overheating. Quite a stark contrast from freezing water pipes I suppose. I've heard it's actually quite nice to have more than one season! I can almost remember covering a plant or two for a few nights one winter, to protect them from the "cold" when I was a bit younger! LOL... As far as using the water, I'm neither a critic nor a proponent of recycling, myself. I personally do my part by reusing/repurposing unused, antiquated or broken things I own rather than immediately junking them, and of course I don't just haphazardly or carelessly waste anything for no reason either when I can help it. But it does seem like quite a waste of water if you think about how many people must leave their water 'running' just a little during such very cold nights, weeks or however long in some cases! That's really the only reason I asked about it. Very interesting information in an area I'm totally unfamiliar with! Thx!
1 person likes this
• Ireland
2 Dec 15
Usually we don't get temperatures much lower than -5 C ( 23F) here but it has fallen to about -15 C (5F) on occasions during extended snowy periods. If the weather is extremely cold during snowy weather, I leave the loft trapdoor open to allow some heat into the roof space to prevent any pipes or the water header tank from freezing. There is always the option of getting electrical heating wire which can be wrapped around pipes to prevent them freezing, but it probably wouldn't be worth the expense since it doesn't get really cold too often. Another option are small frost prevention electrical heaters which can be installed near points in the plumbing system which are vulnerable to cold. Pipes are supposed to be buried deep enough under the ground so that they don't freeze during normal duration spells of cold weather. However vulnerable points are where pipes rise towards the surface and are close to the inner side of old solid brick or concrete walls. Insulating these walls and burying plumbing without insulating it can cause problems. This is because heat from the room which originally prevented the pipes from freezing, is prevented from reaching the pipes. It's a good idea to "exercise" gate valves about once a year. Otherwise they can seize, and this is the last thing you want happening if water needs to be turned off in an emergency. Write the function of the valves on the wall behind them using a thick marker, or tie a label around the stem of the valve.
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
Interesting, our pipes are underneath the house.
1 person likes this
@sharon6345 (121304)
• United States
2 Dec 15
I heard of freezing pipes but not in buildings where I live at. I would not know how to handle that either.
2 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
I am sure you would figure it out.
1 person likes this
@Lucky15 (33423)
• Philippines
2 Dec 15
Whoah. I never thought that could happen. I mean i know pipes has water in it.
2 people like this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
2 Dec 15
It is a common occurrence in cold climates.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (151795)
• Switzerland
2 Dec 15
We closed the valve of the water outdoor to prevent the pipes to freeze. The pipes that bring the water inside the house have special coating that prevent them to freeze.
2 people like this
@UncleJoe (9731)
• Virginia Beach, Virginia
3 Dec 15
Oh yes! That reminded me of thawing poorly insulated pipes in a farm house we use to rent. I had to crawl under the house with my wife's electric hair drier. LOL
1 person likes this
@norcal (3215)
• Nevada City, California
3 Dec 15
My husband uses a heat lamp, or a heater that screws onto the top of a 5 gallon propane tank.
1 person likes this
@mom210 (6696)
• Atlanta, Georgia
3 Dec 15
Oh no, I sure hope that they do not burst or anything, what a mess that would be
@birjudanak (7155)
• India
2 Dec 15
that kind of problem not come here because of snow but you can drop hot water on it or if in sinks then drop in sinks so they are melt and clear.its just my imagine.
@nanette64 (17470)
• Fairfield, Texas
2 Dec 15
Oh yeah @norcal . Since my brilliant (idiot) husband ran all our water lines only 12" at the deepest (most only 4"), I have to go out and wrap all upstanding pipes and spigots and plug in the heater on the main line into the house. I will be doing that today, as it should get slightly below freezing tonight and the next 2 nights as well.
@Marcyaz (35695)
• United States
2 Dec 15
Yes we do take preventive steps to keep our pipes from freezing.