Don’t Trust the Trickle

Crank the heat too! Other pro tips for your pipes this winter, from master plumber Joe Giannone

In the plumbing business we hear a lot of wrong advice, and some of it can get homeowners in real trouble. When it comes to frozen pipes, lots of people think they know how to keep their home safe, but … they really don’t.

The truth is that just running a trickle of water from a faucet won’t always keep you safe from frozen pipes. And the result of a frozen pipe — a burst or cracked pipe — can cost $3,000 or more for repairs and damages.

Here’s some real talk about frozen pipes.

Your Pipes Need Heat

The only surefire way to keep a pipe from freezing is to give it heat. Keep in mind that just because the area around your thermostat is 70 degrees, the rest of your home cools faster, especially areas far from vents or are on the interior of outside walls. Change your smart thermostat to keep your home warmer and protect your pipes.

In addition, many pipes are located in unconditioned areas like unfinished basements or crawlspaces. To take care of pipes in unconditioned spaces, you could add a vent in adjacent ductwork or a space heater nearby. You could also insulate the pipes and get a licensed plumber to add heat trace tape, which acts like an electric blanket for your pipes.

Trickle with Caution

Running a trickle of water from one faucet can also help protect your pipes, but it’s not a magic bullet. And if left unattended it could turn into a flooding hazard. If you run a faucet on cold days, make sure the drain is clear and unobstructed, and don’t leave it alone.

New Construction, Beware

Old homes are far from the only ones at risk for frozen or burst pipes. At least 90% of the frozen pipe calls I answered last year were in new construction homes. Use extra caution in your new home this winter, because a wall could be poorly insulated and you would never know it until your pipes freeze. Turn up the heat and make sure every room is warm. If a room isn’t warm, add a space heater.

Disaster doesn’t strike when the pipe freezes. It strikes when the pipe unfreezes. That built-up pressure of water can break the pipe, and it might not be obvious if the pipe is inside a wall. I recommend getting a smart water sensor for your home that tracks water usage or at least turning off all faucets and then checking your meter. That way, you can tell if you have a damaging leak going on.

If you would like more information about protecting your home’s systems this winter, visit or call us at (215)375-7134.



About Joseph Giannone 6 Articles
Joseph Giannone, is a local expert and owner of Joseph Giannone Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, proudly serving NW Philly (and all of Philadelphia & Delaware counties). More info at or call 215-375-7134

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