The Most Common Winter Plumbing Problems and How To Fix Them

Winter can present a hefty challenge to your home’s plumbing system. It is no secret that cold weather can affect the plumbing within your home. From frozen pipes to leaks, having issues with your plumbing during the dregs of winter can take a toll on any homeowner.

Here are the most common problems you will face with your plumbing during the winter and how you can solve them so that you and your family can make it through the onslaught of Old Man Winter.

Frozen Pipes

Ah, this is probably one of the biggest headaches for homeowners and plumbers alike.

There is nothing more demoralizing than realizing that you have frozen pipes during a bitter cold snap. Frozen pipes are a common issue that homeowners in cold states have to deal with during the dregs of the season. When a pipe freezes, it can cause all sorts of problems. Water is a liquid that expands, and frozen pipes can cause the freezing water from doing just that.

This can result in cracks in your pipes and ultimately can cause them to burst, leaving you with a mess on your hands that can also do damage to your home. Luckily, there is a simple fix to this problem, and it all has to do with your kitchen cabinets. When the temperature falls below 30 degrees outside, leave your lower kitchen cabinets open.

Leaving your cabinets open will allow the heat in your home to ventilate and keep your pipes warm, thus lowering the chance for your pipes to freeze over.

Burst Pipes

If you forget to open your cabinets when the mercury dips below 30 degrees, you will learn quickly what a 24 hour emergency plumbing situation will feel like.

As mentioned earlier, frozen pipes can cause your pipes to burst, leaving you with a holy mess to clean up (more on that later). To keep your pipes from bursting, you might want to invest in a stainless steel hose clamp that can do wonders for the pipes.

A stainless steel hose clamp can be used to prevent damage to your home from an exploding pipe, sealing up a busted pipe long enough for plumbing professionals to come in and repair the damage. It’s a handy tool that will come in quite handy if it’s ever needed.

Flooded Home

There may be nothing more disheartening than walking down to your basement and hearing a squishing or splashing sound. That is the sound of a flooded basement, another common problem for homeowners in the winter.

So what causes the flooding in your basement? If you ever heard of ice floes and blocked drains, those two words just made you shutter. Those two can cause flooding in your basement thanks to heavy snowmelt. When the drain is blocked, it can cause your basement to flood and pain in your wallet.

You can prevent this scenario from ever taking place even during the winter. After major snowfall, head out and make sure that you clean your drains and gutters. That is the quickest way to ensure that water doesn’t back up into your home. Now, what do you do if the water still clogs up the drains and floods your basement?

There’s only one solution to this problem: You’ll have to get your hardwood flooring replaced. It is not an ideal situation, yes, but it’s the only solution because water can seriously damage hardwood floors, and more often than not, you will have to replace the floor completely. Before thinking about buying another hardwood floor, you’ll have to get the water out of your basement first.

Flood water cleanup services can come in and suck up the water out of your basement. After the water is gone from your basement, then you can start thinking about buying a new set of hardwood flooring.

Water Heater Failure

Imagine this scenario: You head to the bathroom to take a hot shower. Not too long after you cut your shower water on, you will notice that there is no hot water coming out of the showerhead.

This is a telling sign of water heater failure, and you will need to have this repaired ASAP as it is no fun taking a cold shower in the middle of winter. There is a multitude of reasons as to why heating systems fail, but the most common problem is a faulty thermostat. Call a heating repair company to come out and inspect your unit to make the repairs needed to allow you to take hot showers once again.

Uncooperative Hoses

You may look at your outside hose and think nothing of it during the winter. However, we implore you not to ignore your water hose.

Leaving your hose exposed to the elements of the winter season can cause a lot of problems for you. Frozen water hosers can cause build-ups and freezing surrounding your hose spigot, and the amount of pressure from your frozen hose can back up into the pipes, causing it to burst. If you don’t want to pay a hefty plumbing bill, make sure that you put up your water hose so that it will be in proper working order as soon as the weather warms back up.

Clogged Gutters

You don’t want to be caught with clogged gutters when the winter season strikes.

Some may attribute cleaning out the gutters for spring or fall when the weather is warm and the rainfall is more imminent. However, winter can bring its problems to a clogged gutter system, namely in the form of snow. If you haven’t cleaned all of the trash out of your gutters, the accumulation of snow and ice can cause your gutter system all sorts of grief and cause multiple plumbing problems for your home. So the simple solution is to clean out your gutters. Your pipes will thank you later.

A Snowy Roof

There is no other way to put it: Your roof is very vulnerable in the winter. Why? Because heavy snowfall can cause a roof to collapse.

Granted, roofs in colder climates may be built so that it can sustain heavy snowfall, but it is still wise to clear out your roof after a heavy snowfall. Allowing the snow to pile up on your roof can cause it to collapse, and that is a scenario that no one wants to think about.

Water, Water Everywhere

October is usually the month when your grass decides to take its four-month hibernation. Around this time watering your lawn will be a done deal and you have already flushed out the irrigation lines so that no water will be in the system to freeze up.

Even the most prepared, though, are not immune to surprises. In addition to flushing out your irrigation system, you should also close up the valve so that outside drains can stop the water flow during the winter, preventing the pipes from freezing up and unleashing all sorts of issues on your home.

You may also want to watch your water usage, as leaving the water on, especially when the mercury dips below 30-degrees, can cause your pipes to freeze up when the water pressure increases. The signs that point to potential pipe problems can be right there on display to see: Icicles.

Those icicles can give your home a holiday feel can also be a tell-tale sign that your home is not prepared to handle the wrath of Old Man Winter. Those cute icicles can indicate that you have ice dams, in which plumbing problems will soon follow as the water from snowmelt can back up to these dams. Water will always need somewhere to go, so the next logical place the water will flow is into the attic or sidewalls of your home.

Again, make sure your gutters are free and clear of debris and gunk so that the snowmelt can run free and clear through the drainage system. The last thing you want is for water to seep into the home during the depth of winter.

Watch Your Dumping And Sewage

If you haven’t been bombarded with this fact already, count this as the millionth time that you’ll hear it. With winter coming, you will be in your home more often than usual.

Being at home more often leads to more cooking, especially with food that contains starchy particles. Those particles can cause plumbing concern, which is why you should be careful as to what you throw down your garbage disposal as it could cause it to back up. Scraps that you believe could be problematic for your garbage disposal should be tossed in the trash can.

Also, pay close attention to your toilets. Sometimes, we tend to use more toilet paper than we need. You should avoid this because it can cause all sorts of plumbing chaos if you throw too much down your toilet. If you’re not sure as to how much you should flush down your toilet, get in contact with plumbing experts that can tell you what you should and shouldn’t flush down your toilet.

The last thing you want in your home as the cold weather rage on is sewage problems. They stick, literally.

A Slow Draining Sink

Once you’re washing your dishes, you shut the faucet off. Now you would expect the water in your sink to drain quickly, but it sits there, taunting you as it takes its time slowly going down the drain.

A slow draining sink is caused by a blockage in the pipes that keeps the water from flowing down the drain. Fat and food remains are the main culprits to causing a slow drain, which is why you should be very careful about what you throw down your sink.

The plague of the slow drain isn’t just restricted to your kitchen area, oh no. In the bathroom, sink blockage is also common, caused by hair and soap. There are ways you can remedy this agonizing experience, with one way using a plunger and pouring baking soda and vinegar down the pipes if you don’t have liquid clog removal. If you don’t have either available, plumbing services can come in a do the job of unclogging your sinks.

If the clog is bad, you’ll want to call a residential plumber to come in and snake the pipes. Snaking the pipes will break up all of the gunk sitting in your pipes, freeing it up so that your drain can do what it is designed to do: Drain.

Low Water Pressue

You cut on your faucet and find the water is trickling out slower than a near-empty ketchup bottle.

This is a perfect sign of low water pressure, which can be caused by water leaving the plumbing system due to pipe leaks before it reaches the faucet. Pipes are not built for eternity, and over time, those pipes can become worn out and corroded. One in ten homes in America suffer from pipe leaks that can waste up to 90 gallons of water every day.

Not only that, but sediment and other minerals can get on aerators, causing the pipes to lose even more of its fizz. If you find that the aerator is having issues, soak it in vinegar and clean it off. That should get your water flowing again.

In conclusion, winter presents a unique number of challenges to your plumbing system. From frozen pipes to clogged drains, plumbing can seriously take a beating during the cold season.

This is why you should call a professional to come and inspect your plumbing system before the first freeze set in. Having your system looked at for potential issues will go a long way to preserving the integrity of your plumbing system. Nothing sucks more than having plumbing issues during the winter, and those issues can add up in your wallet. So save yourself some money and headaches by identifying the problems and having them resolved.

Winter is already harsh enough, so make sure to make it more comfortable by keeping the water warm and free-flowing so that you and your family can make it through the season in peace.

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