When Do Pipes Freeze? 3 Tips to Prevent Pipe Bursting This Spring [Video]

By Mengning Heil

April 1, 2022

Plumbing Tips

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Don’t be deceived by the first warm days after a cold winter. Many states begin to see drastic temperature swings in late winter and early spring. Maryland residents are very familiar with the back and forth of warm sunny days that lead to unexpected snow forecasts before spring fully hits, leading many to wonder: When do pipes freeze?

After being holed up in your house for months during a cold dark winter, predictions of 60-, 70-, and even 80-degree weather begin popping up. You break out your flip flops, open your windows, and see the tiniest buds of green. You might even be tempted to turn on your hose, but beware. Your plumbing could still be vulnerable to freezing.

The 12 Seasons of Maryland  

  1. Real winter
  2. Fool’s spring
  3. Flurries of winter
  4. Spring of deception  
  5. The pollening
  6. Actual spring
  7. Summerish
  8. Living in a volcano
  9. False fall
  10. Last heat wave
  11. Factual fall
  12. Descent into darkness ← We are here 

When Do Pipes Freeze (What Temperature)?

winter home

Seasonal temperature fluctuations could lead to frozen pipes that are susceptible to bursting. So what temperature do pipes freeze, and how can you keep it from happening?

Pipes are at risk of freezing when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but they most commonly freeze at temperatures of 20 degrees and below. (Keep in mind, wind chill increases the risk of freezing.) Pipes are most likely to burst when exposed to below-freezing conditions for six hours or more, which can happen throughout winter and early spring.     

Burst pipes could lead to a disaster, bringing severe water damage to your home. To protect your plumbing this spring, follow our three tips to help prevent frozen pipes.

Frost-bitten outdoor faucet surrounded by frozen plants. When do pipes freeze?

1. Safely Transition Your Plumbing for Spring

Most people are aware of the risk of freezing pipes during the winter. Burst pipes could lead to severe water damage, so it’s important to learn how to winterize your plumbing. It’s also important to remain vigilant by screening for any potential pipe damage as spring approaches.

Be aware that burst pipes are not always apparent until your faucet is turned on full force. When you turn on your hose bib or outdoor faucet for the first time this year, be sure to check for leaks before proceeding to take care of your lawn or plants. 

To check for leaks, stand near the outdoor valve when you turn on the faucet. You should also have a friend stand near the indoor valve. Listen for any hissing or dripping noises inside the wall. They could indicate a leak in your pipes.

If you hear any concerning noises, turn off the water and call a plumber as soon as possible. To prevent further water damage, it’s best to keep the water off until a plumber arrives. You should also make sure you know where your emergency water shut-off valve is located in case the faucet’s shut-off valve is defective. 

2. Prepare for Cold Weather: Hose Bib Shut Off Valve Maintenance

The last average frost date in Maryland is mid-May, so temperatures could drop below 32 degrees into early spring, bringing the risk of frozen pipes.

If you need to turn on your hose before warm weather fully hits, you’ll want to winterize your plumbing again. Watch the video below or keep reading.

When the weather forecast anticipates below-freezing weather, prepare your plumbing by turning off the hose bib shut-off valve. It’s usually located inside your home — on the ceiling or wall that’s closest to the outdoor hose bib. 

Next, go outside and drain the water out of the hose faucet by briefly turning it on. This ensures there’s no water left in the hose or pipes that could freeze.

Turn off hose bib shut off valve and drain water from outdoor house bib

3. Protect Your Plumbing While You’re Away

If you plan to take a vacation anytime from November through May, don’t try to save on your energy bill by turning off your heat. Always keep your thermostat to a minimum of 50–55 ­­degrees. This will help prevent your pipes from freezing. If your vacation is longer than a week, arrange for a friend or family member to check on your property to ensure there are no obvious leaks. 

Taking these simple steps to protect your plumbing during seasonal changes can help prevent costly water damage to your ceiling, floors, furniture, and electrical outlets.

If you’re looking for a trustworthy plumber in Rockville, MD, or the surrounding areas, contact Heil Plumbing. We serve the greater Baltimore-D.C. metropolitan area, from leak detection in Baltimore County to sewer line repair in Montgomery County and everything in between, Heil Plumbing is your trusted hometown plumber.

Heil Plumbing is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services, including toilet installation and repair, leak detection and pipe repair, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, and water heater repair in Baltimore County and the surrounding areas.