How Long Does it Take Pipes to Freeze?

Time between pipes freezing depends on several variables, including temperature, insulation levels, pipe material type and the location of your home’s water lines.

Frozen pipes can do considerable damage to both your home and contents, so it’s essential that you understand how to protect against their burst. Here are a few suggestions:


If you are wondering how long it takes for pipes to freeze, several factors will play a part. Temperature outside, insulation on pipes and where they’re situated in your home all have an effect on how quickly pipes freeze over.

Pipes tend to freeze when temperatures fall well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, as when water freezes it expands by 9 percent and puts pressure on the walls of the pipe, potentially resulting in its burst.

So it is vitally important that you ensure your pipes are properly insulated, in areas where temperatures are expected to remain below freezing, in order to protect the water in them from freezing and bursting, potentially causing severe property damage. This will keep the temperature from fluctuating too drastically between different seasons, potentially putting them at risk of freezing over and bursting which would damage both your property as well as being potentially life-threatening for yourself and those nearby.

Help avoid the need to call in a plumber by using space heaters or hair dryers to heat up the area surrounding frozen pipes and then using towels soaked with hot water on any frozen areas inside them.

Insulated pipes typically take four to six hours before freezing at temperatures below 20 degrees F; this timeframe will significantly shorten when exposed to air temperatures below this mark. Conversely, non-insulated pipes usually experience freezing within hours compared to their insulated counterparts.

Outdoor pipes present additional challenges as they’re exposed to colder air for longer, increasing their susceptibility to freezing and burst sooner, especially in extreme cold environments.

When it comes to predicting how long it will take for pipes to freeze, it is wise to consult the weather forecast in your region. In colder climates where temperatures may remain subfreezing for extended periods, homes in such regions often feature pipes designed specifically for such conditions.


Pipes in cold regions often need insulation to prevent their pipes from freezing over and bursting, potentially leaving a significant mess behind. Without such protection, water could freeze within and then burst, creating extensive damage and leaving you dealing with an enormous mess to clean up afterwards.

Insulation is an inexpensive and simple way to protect your pipes from freezing. Plus, it keeps your home warm and cozy!

Insulation should usually be installed before a cold snap hits, to make the job faster and simpler for both you and your plumber. This will make installation faster and less disruptive during its execution.

Foam-and-foil pipe insulation, bubble film pipe wrap, foil-backed natural cotton insulation tape and rubber pipe insulation tape are among the many forms of pipe insulation products that you can use to insulate your pipes, available in multiple sizes at hardware stores.

Foam-and-foil pipe insulation is an easy, effective, and hassle-free method of insulating small lengths of pipe, or difficult-to-fit sections that may not accommodate pre-slit sleeves. Installation is straightforward and it works on both hot and cold pipes.

Foam insulation sheets or rolls are ideal for protecting larger lengths of pipe from heat loss and can easily be cut to fit around it, creating an easy insulating blanket. Soft like modeling clay, these materials allow you to shape them around pipes with precision.

When choosing pipe insulation, it’s essential that it features a high R-value. This indicates that your insulation will help prevent heat from escaping through its joints, keeping your home warmer while decreasing risk of frozen pipes.

Make sure your insulation is airtight by sealing any holes or gaps that allow cold air to enter. Fill these with spray foam insulation to seal up and keep warmth inside while keeping cold air outside.

If you need help selecting an insulation type for your plumbing system, consulting with a professional is best. They will advise the ideal insulation option for you while also providing an estimate for installation costs.

Pipe Material

As temperatures become colder, it’s vital that homeowners take steps to safeguard their homes against freezing. Pipes are among the most vulnerable components to cold temperatures and may freeze or burst if left without care.

Material choice of pipes has an enormous effect on how quickly they freeze. Some materials like copper and steel may be more vulnerable to burst when frozen than others.

PVC plumbing material is one of the most sought-after options, available in an assortment of sizes and allowing it to conform to almost any shape imaginable while remaining lightweight yet strong.

Copper pipe material is another excellent choice for hot water systems, due to its natural resistance against corrosion. Unfortunately, however, copper can be expensive.

Aluminum and cast iron are also popular choices, due to their resistance to corrosion, painting capabilities, and ability to be customized visually with decorative paint finishes or coatings.

These materials are also more flexible than their alternatives, reducing the likelihood that they’ll rupture when frozen temperatures arrive.

PEX and ABS plastic pipe materials are among the most frequently used, as they’re both durable, easy to manufacture, resistant to rusting, lightweight, flexible enough for bendable use and can flex to bend around corners easily.

Polypropylene plastic pipe is another popular choice for rigid plastic piping applications, as it makes an excellent re-piping and retrofitting solution.

How long it takes pipes to freeze depends on a number of variables, including insulation levels in the pipe and its exposure to outdoor temperatures. According to research conducted at the University of Illinois, some pipes can freeze within three hours when exposed directly to external temperature conditions.

Research demonstrates that to prevent pipes from freezing, insulation is of critical importance in keeping the temperature warm enough. If you need assistance in doing this yourself, calling in professional plumbers might be your best bet.

Burst Pipes

As soon as your pipes freeze, the first thing to do is switch off the main water valve to avoid further damage to your home and allow a plumber to begin fixing it quickly.

Once this step has been taken, use a space heater or hair dryer to slowly heat the frozen area of your pipe. Alternatively, hot towels soaked with hot water may help. Just be sure not to get too close and don’t try using any open flame such as a blow torch for this process as that could spark a fire within your home.

As water inside of your pipes freezes and expands into solid ice, pressure builds within them which could result in them bursting.

Therefore, it is crucial to insulate pipes as much as possible – this is particularly relevant in northern climates where temperatures frequently dip below freezing. Insulation also provides valuable protection from potential water leaks from burst pipes or corrosion issues in plumbing.

As another way of lowering your risk of pipe freezing, be sure your interior temperature does not dip below 55 degrees. This will both prevent pipes from freezing as well as decrease their likelihood of bursting if they do freeze.

Insulating outdoor pipes and any exterior lines is especially crucial in older homes that may lack insulation like newer houses do.

Avoid leaving your home unattended for extended periods in cold weather as this will decrease the time required for pipes to freeze and burst, thus decreasing your risk.

Frozen pipes can often be found near the exterior walls of homes. These areas are especially susceptible to freezing as they’re exposed to weather elements without much protection from outside elements.

Frozen pipes can occur anywhere within your home and often go undetected until it’s too late and there’s a major mess to clean up. To minimize potential damages and maintain them throughout the year, take preventative steps and schedule maintenance regularly.

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