Tell anyone from out of town that you live in Chicago, and what’s the first response you get? We’re willing to bet it’s something along the lines of:

“Oh, what a great city! But how on earth do you handle the winters?

Chicago is known for its windy, frigid winters for good reason – they’re awful (no matter how much we locals try to downplay the chill). We’ve had some mild weeks this year, but only a few weeks back we were freezing our wrenches off!

And, what’s more, our legendary winters can wreak havoc on the parts of our homes that many of us take for granted, including our plumbing systems. One of the most common problems that winter poses to your Chicago home? Frozen pipes!

The Problem With Frozen Pipes

Besides their annoying side effects – including a drop in water pressure and a lack of cold water – frozen pipes pose some real, dangerous hazards to your home. As blockages and pressure build up in your home’s icy pipes, they’re much more susceptible to leaking or bursting; as anyone who’s ever faced down a wet spot knows, even a small trickle of water can lead to weeks of headaches in the form of mold and water damage.

Instead of waiting for that inconvenient flood, stop water damage in its tracks by preventing your pipes from freezing. There are plenty of tried-and-true methods for preventing frozen pipes, but the easiest – and the one you’ll hear most often – is to leave a small drip running in each of your faucets.

We’re willing to bet you’ve heard this advice before. In many ways, it’s the original plumbing #hack. (Did we use that hashtag correctly just now?) But just why does this tip – endorsed by even the Red Cross – work so well?

Why Leave a Drip in Your Faucets?

When you leave a small drip running in all of your home’s fixtures – meaning bathroom sinks, kitchen sinks, bathtubs, and any other faucets or spigots – you keep the water moving through your pipes. Water is much, much more likely to freeze when it’s stationary, rather than mobile, so enabling even just a little bit of a gradual flow can make a big difference for your system – without you having to lug out a space heater, crank up your thermostat, or, heaven forbid, break out a blowtorch to combat the effects of winter.

One way to make your drip even more effective? Open up the cabinets that hide the pipes in your bathroom, kitchen, or basement; letting even a little bit of the room’s ambient heat in can make a big difference for the pipe’s temperature.

And one extra little hack from the green plumbing pros? While your faucets are open, set up cups to catch the drips and dribbles, rather than letting any flow down the drain. This way, you can use any water that you catch for household chores like watering plants or cleaning, without having to waste any more tap water.

Have any other plumbing questions? Looking for service for your Chicagoland home today? You’ve come to the right place! Our team of experts is always here and ready to help. Drop us a line for all of your plumbing needs, and be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter for even more plumbing insights.