At what temperature do water pipes burst

Winter frost: protect water pipes in the cold season

The cold season is associated with many problems for home and garden owners. Temperatures below freezing point create problems for many installations and plants in the garden. Water pipes are particularly problematic. At temperatures below zero degrees Celsius, the water freezes and can burst. Below we explain what measures do-it-yourselfers can take to ensure that the water pipes survive the winter.

As autumn draws to a close and temperatures slide into the single digits, DIY enthusiasts should take steps to protect their water pipes. With the preparations you can be sure that there will be no expensive damage over the winter. Broken water pipes in the ground can only be replaced with great effort.

Why frozen water is problematic

Water is a necessity in the garden. It is channeled into rain barrels, irrigates the lawn and supplies the well with water. In winter, the cool water loses its classic properties. When water freezes, it expands. Its volume grows by about nine percent. No water pipe can withstand this pressure, so that it either ruptures or, in the worst case, explodes.

Elastic materials like a garden hose are less affected by the phenomenon than a plastic water pipe. Plastic loses its elasticity as the temperature drops, so that the material becomes very rigid.

Pipes and lines are also subject to a natural aging process. According to the GDV, the first damage occurs after around 20 years. Every year around one million tap water damage occurs in the living area, which causes costs of two billion euros.

Lay the water pipes correctly

Ideally, measures to protect water pipes start with laying them. At this point, do-it-yourselfers have a lot of leeway when it comes to protecting the cables.

Theoretically, it would be possible to lay pipes for a well, for example frost-proof. The problem: The lines must be laid at least 1.2 meters deep. A complex and expensive undertaking that is not worthwhile for most do-it-yourselfers.

The alternative is to lay it under the surface. Do-it-yourselfers usually lay inexpensive plastic pipes or garden hoses, depending on the purpose of the lines. If damaged, they can be easily replaced.

They can be sheathed to protect the cables. This protection rarely helps, because the problem is not the cold, but the water in the pipes.

Drain the water in the pipes

In winter, most of the water pipes are dormant so there is no need for the cool liquid to flow through them. Do-it-yourselfers should turn off the water supply completely shortly before the first frost period. Then they open all the taps in the garden and empty the pipes. With compressed air you can be sure that every drop of water leaves the pipes.

If you have an above-ground garden hose, you should also empty it. You should choose a sunny day for this work. Lay out the garden hose in the garden. Uncouple the hose from the tap and open the valve. Now lift the end of the hose pointing to the tap and let the water flow out on the other side.

The garden hose needs a frost-proof place to overwinter. A high place in the garden house or in the basement is suitable for this.

Installation of frost-proof taps

There are do-it-yourselfers who need water in winter. There is a practical solution for them: frost-proof outdoor water taps (source: This faucet has a volume compensator that is able to absorb the excess amount of ice or water.

Such a system is suitable both for installation when building a house and for retrofitting. Do-it-yourselfers only need to consider the wall thickness to be compatible with the system.

Maximum hygiene thanks to self-draining fittings

Frost-proof faucets are a sensible investment for all DIY enthusiasts. The installation of self-draining fittings is also important. These are especially important where the faucet is seldom used. The water in the tap stands for many hours or days, so that germs can easily form there. Because it is emptied independently, the water remains clean.

Thaw frozen pipes

If unprotected pipes are frozen and do-it-yourselfers want to prevent damage, there is a solution: Carefully thaw the frozen part of the pipes.

Equipped with the above tool, turn off the main water tap and open the tap where the problem occurs. Now you begin with the tools to slowly thaw the pipe.

The aim is to slowly thaw the line. Otherwise there is a risk that the line will burst.

Insurance as protection against damage

According to the General Association of Germans
Insurance industry protects a residential building insurance against water damage to the house, the garage and the tool shed. Many property owners take advantage of this policy in addition to home insurance.

Even if damage is covered by insurance, it always makes sense to take steps to eliminate these defects.


Do-it-yourselfers can use simple measures to avoid the risk of a water pipe freezing outside. The installation of frost-proof faucets is particularly recommended, as water remains usable in this way in winter. As an additional protection, it is worth taking out residential building insurance.

Article image: © Jorge Cacho / Shutterstock

  • Has this article been helpful?
  • Yes No
Corresponds to a rating of 4.8 / 5