During the winter season, there are some plumbing issues that tend to occur more often than they do in warmer weather. Here is a look at some of the most common plumbing problems that homeowners may encounter during the colder months and how they can be avoided.
Frozen Indoor Pipes
One of the most devastating winter plumbing problems a home can experience is frozen indoor pipes. The water supply pipes in your home can freeze when the temperatures drop, particularly along exterior walls and those that are situated in uninsulated areas of the home. When pipes freeze, they can crack or burst, which results in significant water leakage. If you notice a noticeably light flow of water from your showers or sinks or no water flow whatsoever, it could be a sign that the pipes have frozen.
Prevent this common issue by leaving your faucets on at the lowest drip possible on days when cold temperatures are expected that could cause pipes to freeze. This reduces the pressure on the lines and ensures that water continues to move through them. It can also be helpful to keep the cabinets under your sinks open when the temperatures are especially cold so that heat from the home can circulate through the area.
You might also choose to install pressure relief valves on your water lines to prevent a buildup of pressure that can contribute to leaks and breaks in your pipes during freezing conditions. Pipe insulation can also protect your water supply lines. It may not be necessary to install it on all of your pipes, but those in uninsulated parts of the home and along exterior walls can benefit from this approach.
Water Heater Problems
Water heaters are subjected to heavier use in the winter, and this is not just because of the colder weather. Some people experience water heater woes during the holidays when their home has additional guests placing extra demand on their water heater. If you notice your heater struggling to deliver hot water or keep up with your family’s demand, you may need costly repairs or even a replacement.
Being proactive can go a long way toward ensuring you do not find yourself in this position. Have plumbers carry out regular maintenance on your water heaters and drain them each year. It is also important to test the heater’s pressure relief valve to make sure it is functioning properly.
One way of preventing freezing and retaining wall heat when hot water makes its way through your pipes is by insulating the water supply inlet and the hot water outlet pipes that go to and from the water heater. Some homeowners also choose to install a water heater blanket to stop their tank from losing energy. These blankets can be found in your local home improvement store.
Many kitchens see very heavy use throughout the holiday season, With additional food waste making its way into garbage disposals, this is a popular time for kitchen sink drain clogs to form.
Therefore, it is important to avoid letting risky items enter your garbage disposal. These include meat bones, coffee grounds, grease, fat, and cooking oil. Be sure to discard these items in the trash instead of your garbage disposal.
You should clean your garbage disposal from time to time by running ice through the unit, taking care to cover the drain using a stopper prior to turning it on. Every time you use the disposal, run cold water at the same time and for 30 seconds afterward to help the food waste make its way through the drain entirely.
Frozen Outdoor Pipes
The water lines that supply your home’s outdoor faucets may freeze if they have not been winterized. These lines are especially vulnerable because they do not run into the home and are often left unused in the winter. This means that a leak may not even be noticed until it is too late and severe water damage has occurred.
To avoid this problem, be proactive about winterizing your outdoor hose bibs during the fall months. Disconnect your hoses, drain them fully and then put them away for the winter. From inside, you can turn off the valve of the water line supplying the faucet. You should also open the hose bib valve outside, let the water drain from it, then leave it open to help reduce pressure should freezing conditions take place. An insulating cover can be used to protect your hose bib during the winter, and you may also choose to equip your outdoor faucets with frost-free hose bibs to help prevent freezing.
Reach Out To the Experienced Washington, D.C. Plumbers
Don’t let winter catch you off guard. The experienced team at O’Connor Plumbing can help you ensure your home is prepared for whatever winter challenges may occur. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a plumbing and water heater inspection.