Plumbing problems are extremely common this time of year. Families have busy school and work schedules, and many homeowners let winter plumbing problems fall to the wayside. Sadly, this often leads to pipe bursts, floods, and expensive repairs or restoration bills.
But fear not! The experts at Royal Renovations are coming to your rescue with our best tips and tricks for catching pipe freezes and other winter plumbing problems before the put a damper on your day.
Below-freezing temperatures always increase the risk of frozen pipes. Pipes in unheated interior spaces like basements, attics, and garages are especially vulnerable. However, even pipes that run through exterior walls or spaces can freeze if the temperature drops low enough.
Signs of a Frozen Pipe
Anytime you suspect pipe freezes or other winter plumbing problems, your best bet is to call a plumber to come check for you. If you want to avoid an expensive plumbing bill for what you fear may be a small problem, here are signs you can look for:
Persistent Leaks or Flooding
Leaks and floods are the most obvious sign of plumbing issues. Anytime you find puddles of water inside your home, a bad leak or burst pipe is almost always the culprit.
Changes in Water Pressure
You might notice a sudden, drastic reduction in pressure when you turn on a faucet or flush your toilet, which could be a good sign you have a burst pipe.
If your tap water has gone from clear and drinkable to cloudy or dark, this is a sign you may have a damaged pipe that’s allowing dirt and debris into your water.
Listen for muffled sounds coming from within your walls or in your basement or crawl space, including gurgling, hissing, or clanging.
Skyrocketing Energy Bills
If your energy bill is higher than normal, this could be a sign of trouble with your plumbing.
Preventing Pipe Freezes
Insulate Your Pipes
Applying insulation to pipes in your unheated interior spaces can keep them from freezing.
Seal Air Leaks
Many homes have air leaks that allow frigid air from the outside to seep indoors and wreak havoc on not only your pipes, but your energy costs.
Secure Your Outdoor Plumbing
Garden hoses and all other outdoor plumbing valves and pipes should be disconnected before the first freeze.
Keep Water Trickling
Pipes that have a small, continuous drip of water are much less likely to freeze. Allowing a small stream of hot and cold water to drip overnight can keep pipes from freezing.
Open Cabinet Doors
Allow warmer air to reach pipes behind cabinets, under appliances, and near exterior walls.
Other Winter Plumbing Problems
Unfortunately for homeowners, preventing winter plumbing problems doesn’t stop at pipe freezes.
Water Heater Issues
Your water heater works much harder in the wintertime, which can be detrimental if it stops working properly. To avoid a water heater disaster, make sure you perform water heater maintenance regularly.
Maintenance includes draining the tank and testing the pressure relief valve annually. You might also consider insulating the pipes running in and out of your water heater and covering it with a water heater blanket to prevent freezing.
Clogged Kitchen Drains
Your kitchen drain can clog any time of the year, but it’s especially prevalent in the winter. Over time, the interior of your pipes becomes coated with grease and debris. In the warmer months, this grease and debris is softer and easier to move down the pipe.
When temperatures drop, grease and debris in your sink harden and can cause clogs. If you don’t have a septic tank, you can periodically clean your pipes with a chemical pipe cleaner to keep them free of clog-causing barriers.
If your home is on a septic tank, consider purchasing a snake specifically for clearing kitchen drains to keep on hand. If all else fails, be prepared to call a plumber for help.
Frozen Sump Pump
During the winter months, sump pumps experience increased usage due to melting ice and snow. Another winter plumbing problem is that sump pumps can also freeze or become inoperative without proper maintenance.
The most important thing you can do to maintain your sump pump is to check it regularly, clean the sump pit to remove debris, and try to aim water away from your home’s foundation to reduce your sump’s burden.
Ready to Call In the Experts?
Plumbing problems are bad enough when the weather is nice, but winter plumbing problems are much worse. If you suspect any of these things have happened, give the experts at Royal Renovation a call to get your home back to normal.