5 Common Plumbing Issues During Winter

If you’ve lived in Washington long enough, you’ve seen the challenges that winter can bring. The weather gets cold, the roads get icy, and snow can pile up. By being proactive, the following plumbing issues during winter can be lessened or eliminated.

Frozen Pipes

Your home’s pipes may freeze, leading to ruptures, water damage, and other plumbing issues during winter. It’s easy to prevent frozen pipes, though. Simply insulate any piping that’s near an outer wall or exposed. Turn off the water before a hard freeze or turn on the faucets slightly to keep water flowing. After the freeze passes, call a plumber to make any necessary replacements or repairs before using the home’s water fixtures.

Broken Water Lines

As mentioned above, standing water causes serious plumbing issues during winter. When it freezes in the pipes, it creates a blockage that leads to a buildup of pressure and eventual leaks. By disconnecting outside hoses and draining the lines, you’ll reduce the risk of pipe damage. Ask a plumber about the use of inside shutoff valves to keep your home’s piping running smoothly. 

Septic Issues

As your family spends more time indoors, it’s inevitable that the septic system may have the occasional problem. When erosion uncovers the lines linking the tank to the home, a freeze may stop the system completely. It’s important to handle these problems delicately; don’t try to thaw pipes with heat, and call a plumber to assess the system and make repairs. Filling in eroded areas may reduce the risk of a harmful freeze, and a straw layer will provide good insulation.

Once the system’s issues have been resolved, water conservation will do much to prevent their reoccurrence. Solvents, oils, grease, and fats shouldn’t go down the drain, and the garbage disposal should be used sparingly. Septic tank issues are never fun to deal with, but preventive measures and routine maintenance can reduce them.

Water Heater Failure

When the temperature falls, your water heater will have to work harder to keep up. Running at peak capacity throughout a tough winter can put an enormous strain on a water heater, especially if it hasn’t had the care it needs. Water heater problems can affect a home’s pipes in several ways, from low flow to an insufficient hot water supply. 

It’s a real challenge to prevent these problems. As guests fill the home, showers, kitchens, and bathrooms get busier, but these troubleshooting tips may help.

  • Tank water heaters are powered by electricity or fueled by natural gas. For gas-fired units, be sure the pilot light is on. If your home has an electric water heater, check the circuit breaker to ensure that it hasn’t flipped. 
  • If the unit is putting out lukewarm water or if it’s not providing hot water fast enough, it’s safe to turn the thermostat up a little. Be sure to turn it back down when your guests leave, though, or you’ll pay more for utilities.

If neither of these tips resolves the issue, it may be time to call a plumber for an evaluation. Regular water heater maintenance will greatly extend a unit’s service life and flushing and descaling the tank will improve the system’s efficiency. Call today to get your water heater ready for wintertime guests and Washington’s harsh weather.

Clogged Drains

When bathtubs, showers, and sinks are used more often, drain clogs are more likely to occur. Thankfully, most of these plumbing issues during winter are easy to prevent.

  • A drain snake is a useful tool to have in the kitchen and in the bathroom; it will quickly remove even the most stubborn clogs.
  • Sink clogs can be prevented and removed with degreaser and hot water. Slowly combine the two ingredients and pour the mixture down the drain before finishing the job with a plunger. It’s not a good idea to overuse drain cleaners, as they can cause pipe damage and septic tank issues.
  • Using drain catches in the kitchen and the bathroom will catch harmful contaminants and troublesome debris before they can create a clog.
  • It helps to scrape plates before loading them into the dishwasher. By pre-cleaning your dishes, you’ll ensure that they’re ready to use and the dishwasher’s drain stays clear.

Clogged drains are tough to deal with, but these simple tips can help in most cases. When the problems get too big to handle, though, we hope you’ll give us a call.

An Uncommon Problem: Sump Pump Issues

Sump pumps work to drain water away from low-lying areas. However, a snowmelt can overwhelm a pump, and the entire system may back up if there’s a freeze. Use these tips to keep the sump system in good condition. 

  • Keep the pump clean. During the fall, clear the sump pit of any debris and dirt that may cause a clog.
  • Test the pump. In the winter, test the pump by pouring water into the pit until the float activates. 
  • Keep water far from the foundation. Minimize the load on the sump pump by keeping water from gathering around the home. Consider improving drainage or upgrading the home’s gutters to reroute water.
  • Protect the system’s lines. Check the intake and discharge lines for blockages and ice dams and insulate them to prevent future freezes. Because larger hoses aren’t as prone to freezing, it may be a good idea to upgrade the system’s drainage lines.

plumbing issues during winter

Whether you’re dealing with a small sump pump issue or a more extensive one, we can help. Call or click today to learn more about our pump maintenance and repair services. Count on Us to Meet Your Wintertime Plumbing Maintenance and Repair Needs

Throughout Washington’s long, tough winters, the smallest things can quickly turn a good day into a bad one. Similarly, small steps can prevent major plumbing issues during winter. With these cold-weather home care tips and our expert service, you can keep your home’s pipes, appliances, and fixtures working as they should throughout the season. Request more information via our online contact form or call today to schedule service.