Providing Plumbing Solutions Since 1986

Top 5 Winter Plumbing Problems

Now that winter has arrived, it’s more important than ever to look after the plumbing as well as the water sources in and around your home. You might think the plumbing in your home is working as usual, but there are a few things to consider once the freezing temperatures arrive.

#1 Frozen and Burst Pipes

One of the worst winter plumbing issues is frozen pipes. On really cold days, if your pipes are in a part of your house that isn’t heated and pipes themselves not heat-traced and insulated, you could run into frozen pipes. When water freezes, it expands, which can cause your pipes to split and create water damage. Make sure your pipes are appropriately protected in areas of your home that are cold during the winter.

If you go away during the winter, make sure that you have someone checking in on your home. If there is a cold snap, your pipes could freeze if your heating source stops working – if the hydro goes out, for example, that will take out your electric heat and/or furnace. It’s never a bad idea to shut your water off at source it you plan to be away for any length of time.

Remove all hoses from your outside frost-free hose bibbs – if you don’t, they’ll freeze. Unless you use them over the winter to flood a skating rink, it’s best to add a Stop +Drain in your basement ceiling, a shut-off valve that will allow you drain water out of the tap back to the shut-off.

#2 Water Heater

On a cold winter’s day the last thing you need is lukewarm or cold water coming from your hot water tank. It could be that your hot water heater has been on its way out for a while. Perhaps it takes forever to heat up between showers, water is leaking from the tank or it makes a rumbling noise from all the sediment in the bottom. If your tank is over 10 years old, it might be time to look at a new one.

#3 Clogged Drains

During the winter, drains are more prone to clogging due to the cold temperatures. Buildup from soap combined with hair can harden and cause a back up more often when the weather outside is below freezing. Always refrain from sending grease or food waste down your drain to help prevent clogging.

#4 Frozen Sewer Vent

Water vapour in very cold weather can freeze at the top of your sewer vent stack. A sewer vent stack is a pipe that is attached to your drain line and runs up vertically to your roof. It provides air to allow drains to function properly as well as venting sewer gas from your home.

If the vent is blocked, drainage from sinks and toilets will be compromised. It can also cause a buildup of sewer gases, which, not only smells bad, but is toxic for anyone in the home. One clue that you might be having a problem with your vent is your toilet makes a gurgling sound and isn’t flushing properly.

#5 Flooded Basement

Our Ontario winters provide us with variable temperatures as well as precipitation that ranges from snow to rain that require us to be prepared for almost anything. In the warmer seasons the ground can absorb the extra rainwater, but when the ground is frozen the water has nowhere to go but in your basement. And, if your sump pump isn’t working properly, you could be dealing with water damage. A functional primary sump pump with a secondary pump on a battery backup can help temporarily if your power goes down.

We hope that you learned a couple things about plumbing during the winter and we wish you a trouble-free winter season. If you do run into any issues with your plumbing, we are just a quick call away.

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