Common Plumbing Issues In the Dead of Winter

Wednesday, 22 January 2020 15:57
Common Plumbing Issues In the Dead of Winter

Plumbing problems can happen any time of year and any time of day (though it seems like they wait until weekends and the middle of the night to maximize inconvenience, doesn’t it?). That said, along with cold weather, ice, rain, and snow, winter also brings several challenges when it comes to your plumbing systems. Let’s take a look at some common issues - and ways to prevent them from becoming big, costly problems.

Plunging Temperatures and Plumbing Problems

It’s best to have a plumbing “checkup” in the late summer or early fall to ensure your system is ready for winter. That said, some of the issues we see pop up frequently during the cold months:

Frozen Pipes 

Can pipes freeze in the South? They sure can! When the temperatures drop below 32, water turns to ice; we experience lows in the 20s (and sometimes colder - for fun Google the lowest temperature ever recorded in NC -34 F which occurred on 1-21-1985), so taking precautions to prevent frozen pipes is just as important for us as it is for folks up north. While ice can cause a lot of problems (including stopping the flow of water to your faucets), it’s really the pressure that causes pipes to burst. 

As water freezes, pressure builds up. If it has no safe place to go, it forces its way out through a weak point in the pipe (e.g. a hairline crack, a gap in a joint, etc.) Once the ice melts and water tries to flow through, it’ll leak. Even a small leak can be quite expensive to repair. 

There are a few steps you can take here:

  • Have any cracks, gaps, or leaks repaired immediately. 
  • Insulate your pipes. An investment of a few dollars and a little bit of time will definitely pay you back!
  • Leave a faucet dripping. This gives the pressure somewhere to go so it is released safely. It also keeps water flowing in order to prevent freezing.

If your pipes do freeze, do not hesitate to contact Action Service Co. We pride ourselves on providing fast, responsive, and respectful service.

Failed Water Heaters

The worst time to experience a water heater failure is during the winter… which is also the time it is more likely to occur. Its job is to keep water at a certain temperature, and in the winter, it has to work a lot harder to do this. Breaks or malfunctions are more common this time of year. 

If your water heater is nearing the end of its life (about 10 years), think about replacement. At the very least, have it checked out by an experienced plumber. 

Clogged Drains 

Winter throws out several conditions that may make it more likely that we’ll experience clogged drains, such as visiting guests during the holidays, more food prep, more water use, and, of course, cold weather. Plumbing drain lines can freeze and break, just like water lines can. Commercial drain products may contain chemicals that can cause damage to older pipes, and fumes can be harmful. Your best bet to avoid messy, and pricey, problems is to have your drains cleaned professionally. 

Burst Septic Tanks

This is a situation that no one wants to experience. Snow on top of the tank actually helps because it acts as an insulative layer - unless it is compacted. Stay on the watch for this. A burst tank requires immediate action by a licensed septic tank installer to ensure your septic system runs properly. To prevent issues, have your tank cleaned out before winter (or if you have not done so, now!).

Action Service Co. is here to help you prevent winter plumbing problems or deal with them as they crop up. We provide fast, responsive service so disruption (and cost) is minimized and you can go on about your life. Do not hesitate to call us; we’ll be there.