With the temperature expected to remain below freezing for the next several days, homeowners are urged to take steps to prevent frozen pipes. When water freezes, it expands, and when it expands within a pipe, it could burst and seriously damage property.
Research conducted by the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois determined that the “temperature alert threshold,” that is, the temperature at which pipes are at risk of freezing, is around 20 degrees, but pipes exposed to cold air (especially flowing air, as on a windy day) because of cracks in an outside wall or lack of insulation are vulnerable to freezing at temperatures above the threshold.
Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. Opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes.
If you open a faucet and no water comes out, don’t take any chances; call a plumber immediately. If a water pipe bursts, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve and leave the faucets open until repairs are completed.