Helpful Tips to Prevent Winter Plumbing Issues

November 15th, 2016

Whether you love or hate winter, one thing is certain: it’s a time of year that can be hard on your home. Understanding some of the potential plumbing risks that might come with the cold weather can help you better prepare, and hopefully prevent, these issues.

Frozen Pipes

Perhaps the most common issue that homeowners face is the risk of frozen pipes. Newer homes often have safeguards to protect against this as much as possible, but both new and old homes could be at risk when temperatures dip below freezing. When that happens, the water inside the pipes can freeze, causing it to expand and burst the pipes. Even when you’re home and you can quickly identify the problem, this can cause significant water damage in your basement, walls, ceilings, and floors; if you are away at work or on vacation when it happens, you could come home to find a completely flooded house.

Well-insulated pipes have a much lower chance of freezing, but pipes that are exposed in areas like an unfinished basement may not have much insulation. Find any uninsulated pipes and wrap them with foam insulation, blankets, or similar material that can keep the water inside warm. Most hardware stores sell small foam tubes that are open on one side to be able to slide them on your pipes. If temperatures are going to be below freezing in your area and you notice signs of frozen water in your pipes—the most common is that your water pressure slows to a trickle—take action immediately to thaw the water in the pipes before it freezes.

Exterior Plumbing Leaks

There’s not really a good time to have a plumbing leak in the pipes around the exterior of your home, but winter can make these leaks particularly damaging because it might be harder to get to the pipes once the weather gets cold or the ground outside is covered in snow. The best option is to have your pipes inspected by a plumber in Salt Lake City before the winter weather hits, but if you notice a problem during the winter, definitely don’t wait to have a plumber come and check it out.

Water Heater Issues

Taking a cold shower might sound great on a triple-digit day in the middle of summer, but in the bitter cold of winter, problems with your water heater could leave you and your family feeling frozen. Common signs of a problem with the water heater include:

  • Excessive banging noises
  • Frequent water temperature changes
  • Rust-colored water coming from the faucet
  • Strange smells when you turn on the hot water

If you notice any of these things, have a plumber come and check the appliance for any signs of damage, and drain and clean it if necessary, to avoid a complete water heater breakdown.

Outdoor Hoses

Another common issue for many homeowners is the outdoor hose. If you leave one connected to the faucet and temperatures drop, water that is backed up inside the hose could freeze, expand, and cause damage to the pipes inside the house. Before temperatures drop, go outside and disconnect all your hoses and store them safely inside the garage, basement, or shed for the season.

Plumbing issues are never something people want to have to worry about, but cold winter weather can put your pipes and your plumbing at even higher risk than normal. If you think you might have a problem, or just want to have someone come and check things out to make sure you won’t have any issues, call a Salt Lake City plumber today.