Why the water in the pipes doesn't freeze in Winter?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by McGiord, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. McGiord, Feb 2, 2008
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    McGiord macrumors 601

    McGiord

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    #1
    is something added to the tap water during winter that prevents it from freezing?
    :confused:
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  2. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #2
    Antifreeze?


    Actually, as I understand it, water does freeze in pipes when it's cold enough. That's why pipes rupture and flood basements in the winter. Although, most pipes are either insulated or underground to prevent freezing.
     
  3. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #3
    Is that the latest conspiracy now? Poison the water and then raise the price of medical insurance? :p

    In all seriousness I think it's what EricNau mentioned about how most pipes are well insulated and usually kept under ground.

    I know that out here in California we had a really cold winter a few years ago (20F or below for pretty much all of December IIRC-which is pretty cold for the Bay Area) and we had to insulate our pipes (just the ones on the outside that feed the sprinkler system).
     
  4. McGiord, Feb 2, 2008
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    McGiord thread starter macrumors 601

    McGiord

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    #4
    Antifreeze would be harmful/toxic, doesn't it?
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  5. motulist macrumors 68040

    motulist

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    #5
    3 answers:

    Firstly, water in pipes does often freeze. Many pipes burst in the winter due to the water inside them freezing. Water expands when it freezes, bursts the pipe, and causes a major problem for home owners and businesses.

    Secondly, water can only freeze in the pipes to a significant degree when it is stationary. In pipes where water is frequently flowing through them ,the water is not sitting still in the freezing temperature areas for long enough to form significant ice crystals.

    Thirdly, below ground temperatures are usually significantly more constant than above or near the surface ground temperatures. In fact, just a few feet below the surface the temperature of the earth will basically be the same whether it's the dead of winter or the swelter of summer.
     
  6. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #6
    Something like that. ...Or maybe they really add fluoride to the water to prevent it from freezing!


    By the way, if the water is flowing it won't freeze. On really cold nights some will leave a faucet dripping overnight to prevent the pipes from freezing, or leave their pool pump on all night to prevent their pool pipes from freezing.

    Very much so. I was only joking (and before you ask, I'm joking about the fluoride - it doesn't lower the freezing point of water and is indeed added for our health). ;)
     
  7. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #7
    It most certainly is toxic. There have been many murder cases where antifreeze was the culprit because its poisoning pattern can often mimic other diseases (colds and the flu) and the person might not know for some time (usually after it's already too late).
     
  8. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #8
    Water in pipes most certainly can freeze and burst. Every winter at my high school, we were almost always guaranteed at least one snow day not due to snow, but due to a frozen, and thus burst, water main. We loved their crappy plumbing :D
     
  9. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #9
    True say. Additionally, the constant temperatures below the surface can be harnessed to cool and heat a room with the proper piping installation.
     
  10. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #10
    Fluoride in the water supply can cause dental fluorosis (permanent discoloration spots on teeth). This is why small children are either recommended to either not brush with fluoride toothpaste or be closely supervised to make sure they don't swallow any toothpaste.
     
  11. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

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    #11
    That's why everyone in the Northern areas drains those pipes for the winter. ;)
     
  12. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #12
    Far easier to move to a sunnier place I say. ;) :p
     
  13. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #13
    When is the last time you saw sun.:p

    First there is the frost line, anything below that won't freeze, (usually). When most pipes in the street freeze it isn't the pipe but the road that shifts causing the pipes to break. Water that moves won't freeze, unless it is really really cold out. That is why they say let the faucet drip a bit on cold nights.
     
  14. Hankster macrumors 68020

    Hankster

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    #14
    Being a firefighter with experience in New England and now in the Washington DC area I can attest that pipe DO FREEZE and causes massive damages. This is why you are suppose to shut down your pipes when it gets cold outside :)
     
  15. Luis macrumors 65816

    Luis

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    #15
    I suppose because water is flowing? Either way, sometimes it freezes.
     
  16. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #16
    I'll have you know there was some sunshine on Friday morning! :mad:

    Hmph! :mad::eek::(
     
  17. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #17
    People with summer houses always drain the pipes for winter so nothing freezes. I have to do it every fall.
     
  18. theman macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 26, 2007
    #18
    its similar to the fact that rivers don't easily freeze. moving water cannot freeze easily because the water has to be held stationary for crystals to form. it can sometimes freeze, if it is cold enough for long enough that the ground gets completely frozen.

    interesting to see if someone on the forums lives in Alaska or something. seems like it would be a real issue there.
     
  19. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #19
    move water does not freeze as off.

    Tap water is not pure water. It has other minerals and what not mix in with it so its freezing point is going to be below 32 degree F and about 0 degree F.
     

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