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How Cold Does It Have to Be for Pipes to Freeze?

Frozen plumbing pipe

While there’s plenty of plumbing maintenance for California homeowners to worry about during the winter, you might assume that frozen pipes would not be a major concern for homeowners in this state. However, this is not necessarily the case.

At What Temperature Do Pipes Freeze?

frozen and burst pipeInformation varies on how cold it has to be for pipes to freeze, but the freezing temperature of water is 32 degrees. So, theoretically, your pipes could freeze at any temperature lower than that. But for your pipes to literally freeze overnight, the temperature would probably have to drop to at least 20 degrees. The good part of this is that in California, even in the coldest months we rarely experience temperatures in the 20s and 30s for prolonged periods of time.

On the other hand, it’s key to remember that water expands as it freezes. This means that your pipes do not have to be frozen solid for them to become damaged. Think of it this way: if you leave a glass of water out overnight, and it freezes even part way by morning, that means the same thing can happen in your pipes. So during the chilliest months of the year, if your exterior pipes have any amount of frozen water in them, they can still burst from pressure if the water gets cold enough.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Chances are it will be your outdoor pipes, such as the ones attached to sprinklers and pools, or the spigots around your house, that will be most vulnerable to freezing. Pipes in locations such as your garage, attic, or basement (though there aren’t many basements in Southern California) can also be at risk, and even some pipes under your kitchen and bathroom sinks can freeze if it gets too cold.

Fortunately, you can take the following steps to keep your pipes from freezing:

  • Winterize your plumbing system. Make sure your outside lines, including sprinkler systems, are turned off and completely drained prior to the approach of cold weather.
  • Insulate your pipes. You can purchase products such as pipe sleeves to prevent your exterior pipes from freezing. These products are very inexpensive, especially compared to how much it will cost you to have to repair a burst pipe.
  • Leave the heat on. If you plan on being away from your home for a while during the winter months, don't turn off your heater completely. Leave it on at least 55 degrees to keep your home and pipes from getting too cold.
  • Let your faucets drip. If the weather gets particularly frigid and you're worried about water lines that are exposed to these temperatures, you may wish to leave any faucets connected to those lines running at a trickle. Even that small amount of flow can make it more difficult for the water in your pipes to completely freeze.

All City Plumbing Knows How to Protect Your Pipes

Perhaps the best way to ensure your pipes are safe this winter is to call our skilled Rancho Cucamonga plumbers for an inspection. Our repiping experts will always do everything in their power to keep your pipes safe, and provide water line repair and replacement for a range of properties. And if you do end up with a frozen pipe on your hands this winter, All City Plumbing offers burst pipe repair, so you never have to worry for long.

Call today to schedule a plumbing appointment at (909) 552-7550 or send us a message online.

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