The Optimal Water Temperature for Dripping a Faucet

During the winter months, many homeowners wonder what temperature to set their faucets to prevent freezing pipes. This is a common concern, especially in areas where temperatures drop below freezing. Freezing pipes can lead to costly repairs and water damage, so it’s important to take preventative measures.

One common method to prevent pipes from freezing is to let the faucets drip. When water is flowing through the pipes, it creates movement and reduces the likelihood of freezing. However, it’s crucial to set the faucet to the right temperature to balance prevention and water conservation.

Experts recommend setting the faucet to a temperature slightly above freezing, around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). This temperature is generally enough to keep the pipes from freezing without wasting excessive amounts of water. It’s important to note that this method is not foolproof and may not work in extreme cold conditions.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to insulate any exposed pipes, especially those in unheated areas such as basements, attics, or crawl spaces. Insulation can further protect the pipes from freezing and reduce the need for excessive dripping. Taking these precautions can help ensure the integrity of your plumbing system during the winter months and prevent costly repairs.

Benefits of Dripping Faucet

Dripping faucets may seem like a nuisance, but they actually have several benefits that can make them worth the slight annoyance. Here are some of the advantages of dripping faucets:

1. Prevents Frozen Pipes: One of the main benefits of dripping faucets during colder weather is that it helps prevent frozen pipes. When the temperature drops below freezing, water inside the pipes can freeze and expand, causing the pipes to burst. By allowing a small amount of water to flow through the faucet, you can prevent the pipes from freezing and save yourself from potential water damage and costly repairs.

2. Reduces Pressure Build-up: A dripping faucet can also help reduce pressure build-up in your plumbing system. If there is too much pressure within the pipes, it can lead to leaks or damage to the plumbing fixtures. Allowing water to slowly drip from the faucet helps relieve this pressure and prevent any potential damage.

3. Prevents Corrosion: Stagnant water can lead to corrosion in your plumbing system. By allowing the faucet to drip, you ensure that there is a constant flow of water, reducing the chances of corrosion. This not only helps maintain the longevity of your pipes but also saves you money on repairs and replacements.

4. Maintains Water Quality: Dripping faucets can prevent water from becoming stagnant and developing an unpleasant taste or odor. By keeping the water flowing, you ensure that it stays fresh and maintains its quality. This is particularly important if you live in an area with hard or mineral-laden water.

5. Provides Emergency Water Supply: In case of a temporary water outage or emergency situation, a dripping faucet can provide you with a small supply of water. While it may not be enough for all your needs, it can be useful for essential tasks such as drinking, cooking, and cleaning.

6. Peace of Mind: Lastly, having a dripping faucet can provide peace of mind, knowing that you are taking proactive measures to prevent potential plumbing issues. It can give you a sense of control over your plumbing system and help you avoid unexpected and costly repairs.

While dripping faucets do use a small amount of water, the benefits they offer outweigh the water usage. However, it is important to note that dripping faucets should only be used during cold weather or when recommended by a plumbing professional. It is also essential to fix any leaking faucets promptly, as continuous dripping can waste a significant amount of water over time.

When to Drip Faucet

Dripping a faucet can help prevent freezing in your pipes during cold weather, but it’s important to do it at the right times. Here are a few instances when you should consider dripping your faucet:

1. Freezing Temperatures: Drip your faucet when the temperature drops below freezing, usually around 32°F (0°C). This helps to keep water moving through the pipes and prevents them from freezing.

2. Extended Cold Spells: If you’re experiencing a prolonged period of cold weather, consider dripping your faucet continuously. This extra precaution reduces the risk of frozen pipes as the constant flow of water prevents ice from forming.

3. Power Outages: During power outages in cold weather, dripping your faucet can help prevent frozen pipes. If the power is out, the heating system may not be functioning, so running water from a dripping faucet can act as a temporary solution.

4. Vacation or Absence: If you’re planning to be away from home for an extended period during cold weather, it’s a good idea to drip your faucet. The constant flow of water can help prevent frozen pipes while you’re away.

While dripping a faucet can help prevent pipes from freezing, it’s important to remember that it can increase your water usage. Be mindful of the water you’re wasting and try to strike a balance between protecting your pipes and conserving water.

How to Drip Faucet Properly

Dripping your faucet can help prevent pipes from freezing during extremely cold weather. Here are some steps to follow to properly drip your faucet:

1. Determine the temperature: Check the weather forecast to see if the temperature will drop below freezing. It is recommended to start dripping your faucet when the temperature is expected to be at or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius).

2. Choose the right faucet: Select a faucet that is located on an exterior wall or in an unheated area, such as a basement or crawl space. This will help protect the pipes that are most vulnerable to freezing.

3. Open the faucet: Slowly turn on the faucet to a small, steady stream. The water flow should be about the thickness of a pencil lead. This continuous flow of water will help prevent the pipes from freezing by keeping them at a constant temperature.

4. Monitor the faucet: Keep an eye on the faucet to make sure the water is flowing properly. If the stream becomes too thin or stops altogether, it may indicate that the pipes are starting to freeze. In this case, you may need to increase the flow or take additional steps to prevent freezing.

5. Check other vulnerable areas: In addition to dripping your faucet, it is important to insulate any exposed pipes in unheated areas. This can be done using pipe insulation or heat tape. Pay attention to areas such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces.

By following these steps, you can help prevent your pipes from freezing and avoid potential water damage. Remember to turn off the drip when the temperature rises above freezing to conserve water.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

When temperatures drop below freezing, it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent your pipes from freezing. Frozen pipes can lead to costly and extensive damage to your home.

Here are some steps you can take to prevent frozen pipes:

  • Keep your home heated to a consistent temperature, even when you are away. This will help keep the pipes warm and prevent freezing.
  • Insulate any exposed pipes in your home. This can include pipes in crawl spaces, attics, and basements. Insulating these pipes will add an extra layer of protection against freezing temperatures.
  • Seal any cracks or openings near pipes. Cold air can seep in through these cracks and cause pipes to freeze.
  • Open cabinet doors in your kitchen and bathroom to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes. This is especially important for pipes that are located against exterior walls.
  • Drip faucets when temperatures are below freezing. Allowing a small trickle of water to flow through the pipes can prevent freezing.
  • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses. This will prevent water from freezing in the hose and potentially causing damage to the faucet and pipes connected to it.

By following these preventive measures, you can greatly reduce the risk of frozen pipes and avoid the headaches and expenses that come with them.

Other Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes

In addition to dripping faucets, there are other measures you can take to prevent your pipes from freezing:

  • Insulate your pipes: Ensure that all exposed pipes, especially those in unheated areas such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces, are properly insulated. This can help keep the pipes warm and avoid freezing.
  • Seal air leaks: Look for any gaps or cracks in your home’s exterior walls and seal them with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from entering and reaching your pipes.
  • Open cabinet doors: If you have pipes located inside cabinets, open the doors to allow warm air from your home to circulate around them. This will help prevent them from freezing.
  • Keep your home heated: It’s important to maintain a consistent temperature in your home during cold weather. Set your thermostat to a temperature above freezing to ensure that pipes stay warm.
  • Use heat tape: Heat tape is an electrical heating element that can be wrapped around pipes to provide warmth and prevent freezing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and usage.
  • Drain and disconnect outdoor hoses: Before the winter season, make sure to drain and disconnect any outdoor hoses. This will prevent water from freezing and potentially causing damage to the connected pipes.

By taking these additional preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of frozen pipes and avoid potentially costly repairs.


Let your faucets drip before you leave for work Thursday morning. Here’s why.

Expert tips on how to make sure your pipes don’t freeze during winter weather

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Ryan Pietrzak

Ryan Pietrzak, a licensed plumber with 12+ years of experience, is the trusted expert behind Plumbing.Academy. With a wealth of practical knowledge, Ryan guides you through plumbing challenges, making informed decisions easier. His reputable advice, rooted in real-world expertise, empowers both DIY enthusiasts and seasoned plumbers.