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How Long Will It Take Pipes to Freeze Without Heat?

When temperatures drop and ice sticks to every outdoor surface, frozen pipes can quickly become a genuine possibility. No homeowner wants to deal with frozen pipes because when pipes freeze, bursts can occur, causing devastating water damage to your home—not to mention costly repair bills.

The lower the temperatures outside your door, the more likely your pipes are to freeze over. But how long can a house go without heat before pipes freeze? We’ll answer that question below and also go over how to prevent frozen pipes in the winter.


How Much Time Will It Take?

Generally speaking, it will take around 6 hours for your pipes to freeze without heat. If you’re currently experiencing below-freezing temperatures and your home loses power (or you don’t have your heating system turned on), your pipes will have about 6 hours before they freeze over.

The exact outdoor temperature can play a role in shortening or prolonging the time it will take your pipes to freeze. While we know that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, keep in mind that indoor pipes are somewhat protected from the extreme outdoor weather. Without a heat source, pipes may take as little as 3 hours to freeze at 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Which Pipes Are at a Higher Risk of Freezing?

Not all pipes are created equal. Some factors can affect how likely a home’s pipes are to freeze, including:

  • Uninsulated pipes
  • Copper or galvanized steel pipes
  • Pipes located on your home’s exterior walls
  • Lines found in unheated locations (basements crawl spaces, attics)

Where you live can also play a factor in how long your house can go without heat before pipes freeze. To answer this question thoroughly, we have to discuss geological location.

Your Region & Your Pipes

In regions that experience cold weather during the winter months, such as Erlanger, heating services and precautions against frozen pipes are necessary. Most homes in areas where temperatures tend to be colder will have better-insulated lines than those in areas where temperatures skew warmer.

Plus, for some newer houses found in colder climates, the water pipes are closer to the inner parts of the home than near the outer walls. This design is to prevent frozen pipes in the winter.

How Do You Avoid Frozen Pipes?

Now that you know how long a house can go without heat before pipes freeze, it’s time to break out those preventive measures to avoid plumbing disasters.

Prevent frozen pipes in the winter with these five tips:

  1. Maintain your home’s warmth: Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature both night and day. If you want to know what temperature to keep your house at so pipes don’t freeze, the answer is above 55°F.
  2. Direct warm air to colder areas: Since pipes that tend to freeze are located near your outer walls or windows, make sure these areas are kept warm and away from cold air.
  3. Insulate your pipes: If you want to know how to keep pipes from freezing when your furnace is out, insulate your pipes. If your pipes aren’t insulated properly, take precautions and prevent freezing by protecting your lines, starting with those most likely to freeze.
  4. Remove outdoor hoses from faucets: Water can freeze in your hoses and lead to frozen and burst pipes, so remember to disconnect hoses during the colder months.
  5. Run a few faucets: During those extra-chilly days, you can keep a few faucets throughout your home trickling to prevent any potential freezing.

How Do You Thaw Frozen Pipes?

Now you know how long a house can go without heat before pipes freeze, but what do you do if the freezing has already happened? If you already know you have frozen pipes, apply heat to them with electric heating pads. You never want to try to thaw your pipes with any open flame. Plus, it’s essential to act fast and call your local plumber to help you prevent burst pipes.

At Arlinghaus, we’re here to help with all of your plumbing and heating needs to prevent frozen pipes in the winter. From furnace repairs to pipe repairs, we have the expertise to prevent pipes from freezing and can help keep your home safe from the threat of burst pipes. Call us today to learn more about our services!

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