Are Bathroom Faucets Supposed to Have Icicles?

Before I get the responses, please note that yes, I do realize bathroom faucets should not have icicles. I’m not *quite* that dense. However, this didn’t stop me from having a bathroom freeze so solid, it took hours to get it to thaw.

Allow me to provide a little context.

When I left for Thanksgiving, I debated draining the water to my new bathroom. This was still November, after all. Even if it got below freezing outside now and then, surely inside my house it wouldn’t get that bad. Not in an insulated place, even if the heat was off, right?

Still, I ended up deciding it would be best to drain the pipes just in case. But I really just went through the motions. Turned off the water in a couple spots, drained a couple others. I saw water come out when I drained them, so I didn’t think too much more of it.

While we were away, the windchill at home got to around 10 below Fahrenheit. The temperature itself was about 4 degrees. Our friends keeping an eye on the house texted to note the bathroom had icicles hanging from the faucet and asking if they should do anything about it. Speaking from experience now, that’s a bad feeling to have when you’re 500 miles away. In the end, I told them not to do anything, mainly because if they turned on the heat and there was some sort of a leak going on, I wanted someone there who knew the house well enough to easily turn things off.

When we got home yesterday afternoon, I set about looking into the problem. The good news is that (from the research I did), pipes typically burst when they’re under pressure. As long as there’s space for the water to expand, then it expands, but if there’s a bunch of water pressure pushing it one way, and no space for it to expand, then it bursts the pipes. By draining the pipes as much as I had, I’d given it the space it needed. Good thing, too, since it took hours for the bathroom to thaw. The toilet water (what was left in it after draining) was frozen solid. There was a little stalagtite of water in the shower underneath the shower head. The pipes themselves were frozen through and through.

The water all came back eventually, and I see no drips or water leaking from anywhere so (knock on wood) hopefully we avoided a catastrophe. Next time I’ll be more diligent in my draining. Go figure.

In the mean time, it’s a bit chilly up here. Another foot of snow is forecast for tonight. Thank goodness summer is over.


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