We just discovered a cold, hard fact about SimpleSENCE: it’s not just a water detector but a freeze detector as well.

 OK, we’ve always known that. It’s just that we’ve been so caught up in how well the product detects water leaks and alerts homeowners to their presence so they can avoid costly structural damage that we’ve been somewhat underplaying the freeze detector part of our little device.

Given the increased probability of such an occurrence at this time of year – especially in the northeast and northeastern parts of the country – it’s worth checking out how SimpleSENCE can help prevent these costly, life-disrupting events. But first, a little bit of insight into the “hows” and “whys” of pipe freezing.

According to Consumer Reports, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage during frigid weather and can cause thousands in water damage - easily $5,000 or more, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety; our own sources put the average cost of frozen pipe failures at a heart-stopping $8,189.

Natural Hazard Mitigation Insights, a publication of the Institute for Business and Home Safety, offers some excellent insights of freezing and bursting pipes: at what temperatures they freeze, exactly why they burst (it’s doesn’t happen the way you think), and some helpful pointers on how to avoid the problem in the first place.

The most salient point in the article is understanding when pipes are likely to freeze. We all know that the freezing temperature of water is 32°F. The pipes inside your home, however, are protected from exterior freezing temperatures through your home's insulation. What this means is that it on days where it is 32°F outside, it does not necessarily mean that your pipes will freeze.


Typically, your home’s pipes begin to freeze when the outside temperature is at least 20°F. Again, this depends on your geographical location; for example, areas that expect lower temperatures have water pipes that are better insulated in the inner parts of your home, compared to other areas.

Interestingly, southern states are not immune to the problem. In fact, water pipes in houses in southern climates often are more vulnerable to winter cold spells. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, that’s because the pipes are more likely to be located in unprotected areas outside of the building insulation, and homeowners tend to be less aware of freezing problems, which may occur only once or twice a season.

Of course, like any situation that can potentially cause structural damage to your home, it’s best to be proactive. In the case of freezing pipes – and the subsequent bursting of said pipes - our SimpleSENCE® unit is the ideal solution. The unit features a temperature sensor with a sensing range of -40°F to 30°F, and will trigger a low temperature alarm at 38° F. This will provide you with plenty of notice before the area where your pipes are located goes down to the freezing point of 32°F (and even once it reaches that temperature, pipes don’t freeze immediately).

The only question left is where to put the units? Ultimately, you will want to put a SimpleSENCE unit in every unheated interior space in your home where pipes are located, whether they are visible or inside the walls. While this can vary from house to house, the most common unheated interior spaces are basements, attics, and garages. But even pipes running through cabinets or exterior walls can freeze. Placing a unit in an inconspicuous spot within each of those areas will allow you to keep track of the temperature and receive an alert if and when a freezing event occurs. This will give you time to take whatever action is necessary to remedy the situation – whether it means bringing in space heaters, wrapping your pipes with more insulation, sealing any obvious air leaks, or moving to Florida.

The cold weather is here – and it’s going to be here for a while. Buying some SimpleSENCE units may not be as much fun as a Caribbean vacation during the winter but think of it this way: with the money you’re going to save in potential repairs from burst pipes, you can afford one.