What Temperature Do Pipes Freeze? A Guide to Keeping Your Home Safe

If you live in an area with cold winter temperatures, frozen pipes can be a major concern. When pipes freeze, they can burst, causing costly damage to your home. In this article, we’ll explore what temperature pipes freeze, how to prevent frozen pipes, and what to do if your pipes do freeze.

What Temperature Do Pipes Freeze?

Pipes can freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, but it typically takes a sustained period of time at that temperature for freezing to occur. In general, a pipe needs to be at freezing temperatures for at least half a day before homeowners have to worry about any freezing occurring.

Several factors can influence the likelihood of pipes freezing, including the type of material the pipe is made of, the amount of insulation surrounding the pipe, and the ambient temperature outside.

Pipes made from metal are more susceptible to freezing than those made from plastic, as metal conducts heat more efficiently. Pipes that are not properly insulated are also more likely to freeze. Homeowners should ensure that their pipes are properly insulated with materials such as foam pipe insulation or electrical tape. Additionally, if the outside temperature is extremely cold, there is a greater chance that pipes will freeze.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

There are several things homeowners can do to prevent their pipes from freezing:

  • Keep the temperature inside the home above 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • Let faucets drip slightly during very cold weather.
  • Insulate exposed pipes in unheated areas, such as the basement or attic.
  • Seal any cracks or openings around doors and windows to keep cold air from coming into contact with your pipes.

What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze

If you do find yourself with frozen pipes, there are some things you can do to thaw them out:

  • Use a hairdryer on the affected pipe.
  • Wrap the pipe in a heating pad or an electric blanket.

If you can’t thaw the pipe out yourself, you’ll need to call a professional plumber. They will have the tools and experience necessary to get your water flowing again.

When To Be Worried About Pipes Freezing

As a general rule, the “temperature alert threshold” for freezing pipes is about 20 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, water inside exposed pipes will begin to freeze and expand, putting pressure on the pipe walls. If this expansion is significant enough, it can cause the pipe to burst.


Frozen pipes can be a major issue for homeowners, but with a little prevention, you can avoid the headache and expense of burst pipes. Keep the temperature inside your home above 68 degrees Fahrenheit, insulate exposed pipes in unheated areas, and let faucets drip slightly during very cold weather. If your pipes do freeze, take action to thaw them out, or call a professional plumber. Stay warm and safe this winter!