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Prevent Freezing Pipes by Leaving Cabinet Doors Open

Leaving your cabinet doors open is one of our go-to tips to prevent the disaster of pipes freezing and pipes bursting. In fact, it’s tip #3! Freezing burst pipes are one of the most destructive plumbing disaster’s possible — repairing the damage can cost you $20,000+ and keep you from living at home until it’s fixed.

Leaving your cabinet doors open allows room temperature air to keep your pipes warmer. With the doors closed, your pipes are essentially sealed-in with the cold outdoor air, like a refrigerator.

Sure, we understand this freezing pipe prevention theoretically, but how does it work in practice, for an average home, on a cold?

We decided to find out. We conducted a 100% unscientific experiment to contrast the temperature with the cabinet doors open and the cabinet doors closed. Remember every home is different and every cold, wintry day is different.

In our experiment for our average house, how much difference do you think having the door closed made? Zero degrees? Five degrees? Ten degrees?

Keep reading and find out.

Prevent Freezing Pipes Experiment: The Set-Up

To take our measurements, we used a basic digital thermometer, the type you’d have lying around the house. Measurements were taken in Fahrenheit.

We set up our experiment in an ordinary first-floor bathroom cabinet against an exterior wall of the house.

So, how ordinary is this bathroom cabinet? Notice the dust — nobody remembers to clean their bathroom cabinets!

a dusty pipe in the bathroom cabinet

Outdoor temperature: 25 degrees Fahrenheit

25 degrees is below freezing — yet a little warmer than the weather that typically causes freezing pipes and burst pipes.

Prevent Freezing Pipes Experiment: The Measurement

First, we established a baseline of indoor room temperature air.

An image of a thermostat at 73 degrees Fahrenheit

Room Temperature: 73 degrees Fahrenheit

Balmy, especially for the winter. Gotta love reliable indoor heat during a chilly winter day.

an image of thermostat at 61 degrees

Cabinet Temperature with the doors open: 61 degrees Fahrenheit

Notice the 12 degree drop between the cabinet temperature and the indoor room temperature. Easy to see why room temperature air is a tool to thaw freezing pipes and frozen pipes.

an image of a thermostat at 52 degrees

Cabinet Temperature with the doors closed: 52 degrees Fahrenheit

The difference between cabinet doors open and closed: 9 degrees Fahrenheit

Prevent Freezing Pipes Experiment: The Meaning

This experiment was non-scientific and the results would most likely be different in other homes. The housing material, insulation, and the weather outside all play a role.

In our experiment leaving the doors open made a 9 degree difference. Even if our experiment house was never at risk for frozen pipes, in colder weather, 9 degrees could make the difference between freezing and above freezing.

Prevent Freezing Pipes: The Wrap-up

Remember, every house is different. Like the ordinary house in our experiment, with your cabinet doors open vs. closed, you may also experience 9 degree difference — or more — or less.

In order to prevent the costly disaster of freezing pipes and burst pipes, you need to take every precaution possible — especially ones that are as easy as opening you cabinet doors. It’s free, it only takes a second, and there are no downsides. Yet open cabinet doors could prevent a $20,000 disaster that forces you camp out in a hotel for a few weeks.

Contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Pleasantville to discuss preventing freezing pipes, to thaw your frozen pipes, and for all of your plumbing needs.