At AdvantaClean, we field dozens of calls related to frozen pipes and water damage during the winter months. And, it is not just the copper and metal pipes that can freeze and burst, even the more modern plastic and PVC can become victims of the cold weather.
When should homeowners be alert to the danger of freezing pipes? That depends. According to a recent article on Weather.com, in southern states and other areas where freezing weather is the exception rather than the rule (and where houses often do not provide adequate pipe insulation or protection), the temperature alert threshold is 20°F.
In northern states where winter weather is harsher, longer and houses are built to sustain lower temperatures (and pipes are often insulated), it has less to do with outside temperature and more to do with cracks or openings that allow cold air to come in contact with pipes that lead to freezing and bursting.
In general, pipes that are adequately protected along their entire length are typically safe. Homeowners that are at risk, either because pipes are often exposed to low temperatures or insufficiently insulated, have a few options. It can be worth having a plumber reroute at-risk pipes to protected areas or adding pipe sleeves to protect them from the cold. You can also let a faucet drip during extreme cold weather to reduce pressure and offer constant flow from both hot and cold lines.