The days are getting shorter — and cooler. The nights are getting longer — and colder.

Yep — as much as we might want to avoid thinking about it, the inevitable changing of the seasons is upon us. That means long summer days turning into long winter nights.

Those of us on the western side of the Cascade may not have to deal with below-freezing temperatures as often as some of our Pacific Northwest neighbors. On the rugged eastern slopes of the mountains and in some of the high desert counties, freezing temperatures are as common as stars in the wintry midnight sky.

But in the greener, wetter western valleys, we’re blessed with a more moderate climate. Here, the weather is less prone to extremes. In fact, on average, Portland has just a few nights per year when temps fall below freezing.

Still, those frigid nights do pop up from time to time. And when there are several consecutive days of freezing temperatures, it’s wise to think about your plumbing.

Freezing, Bursting, and Generally Messing Things Up

What is it about cold weather and letting faucets drip? You may be wondering, “How many faucets should I let drip?” or when to drip faucets in the first place.

Well, as always, Meticulous Plumbing is here to help — with an assist from the city of Portland, where we do business.

As the city cautions, “rain, ice, and snow can play havoc with water pipes.” The reason we allow our faucets to drip during frigid weather is to keep the water moving through the pipes. Still waters may run deep, as the saying goes, but it also leads to frozen and bursting pipes — and expensive repairs. Running water helps prevent freezing.

Just listen to Consumer Reports.

“When temperatures plummet, the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting skyrockets,” they write. “In fact, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage during frigid weather and can cause thousands in water damage — easily $5,000 or more, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.”

The potential cost of damages is just one of the reasons to take precautions. (Some other reasons: to avoid worry, stress, headaches, ruined walls and floors, mold, missing work because you have to be at home when the repair people show up, etc.)

Let Those Pipes Drip!

Letting pipes drip during freezing weather keeps the water moving inside them. Water in motion is less likely to freeze. If your pipes are insulated — and they really should be! — then allowing faucets to drip is a tried-and-true method of avoiding freezing and bursting pipes.

You don’t have to run warm or hot water or even let the water run at a high volume. Just a drip is enough to prevent pipes from freezing.

Let’s answer those questions posed above.

When should I let my faucets drip?

Anytime the temperature is below freezing — especially if your pipes are not insulated and the weather will be below 32 degrees for several days straight.

How many faucets should I let drip?

You only need to let one faucet drip, but it’s best for that faucet to be the one farthest away from where the water enters your home.

The city of Portland and Consumer Reports both have some quick-and-easy tips on what to do if a pipe does burst or the water freezes. (All it takes is to locate the frozen area and use a blow dryer on the frozen section of pipe.) We recommend familiarizing yourself with their recommendations.

Meticulous Plumbing: Your Portland Plumbing Expert

If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact Meticulous Plumbing. We’ve been in business for a long time and have seen just about everything that can go wrong with pipes during freezing weather. In fact, you should call a licensed plumber at Meticulous for any and all plumbing-related problems and questions.

We’re here to help, and we look forward to speaking with you.

In the meantime, stay warm out there!

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