Winter is hard on plumbing. As the temperatures drop, the potential for damage to your pipes and plumbing system increases. Whether you’re new to homeownership or new to Washington, it’s good to know what to expect during the winter months as the temperatures trend downward so you can protect your Lynnwood, WA, home.
Dealing with your plumbing in winter is a lot easier if you know what to look for. Having even just a little knowledge of what some of the biggest issues look like can help you to quickly diagnose a potential problem and get it fixed before the situation can get any worse.
Here’s a quick look at some of the most common winter plumbing issues so you aren’t caught off guard this season:
By far the most common problem that can affect your plumbing, frozen pipes are something you’ve likely already been warned about.
Frozen pipes are the result of water trapped in the pipes freezing solid. As the water freezes and expands, it gets bigger and heavier and can potentially lead to the pipes bursting. This issue can affect both the pipes inside and outside of your Lynnwood, WA, home.
Plumbing lines that run along the exterior walls of your home or pipes in uninsulated areas are the most vulnerable. These pipes are exposed to colder temperatures and have an increased likelihood of freezing when the temperatures fall too low. To prevent the pipes bursting, it’s helpful to:
Turn On The Water
As soon as the temperatures drop to or below freezing, turn on your faucets to allow water to keep moving through the pipes. This steady dripping helps to reduce the pressure in the lines. You don’t need to turn them all of the way on, just enough to where there’s a noticeable drip.
There are a lot of different ways to insulate pipes, from foam sleeves to heating tape, all of which are easy to install. Focus on your home’s most vulnerable pipes, the ones that are along exterior walls, as these are the ones closest to the cold outside.
Open The Cabinets
Open up the cabinet doors under your sinks to exposed closed-off pipes. This exposure allows warm air from the home to circulate through the cabinets and helps prevent frozen lines or pipes bursting.
It’s no surprise that the plumbing outside your home is particularly susceptible to freezing temperatures. You can reduce the risk of damage with a few simple preparations prior to the cold arriving.
Get the Pipes Blown Out
When sprinkler season ends, it’s a good time to have your pipes blown out. This process eliminates any water sitting in the lines, so it can’t freeze up in the winter. Once the pipes are cleared, shut off the valve that serves the outdoor spigot to prevent any more water or moisture from accumulating in the pipes.
Disconnect any hoses that are attached to your outdoor plumbing fixtures and bring them inside for the winter.
Insulate outdoor pipes the same way you insulate indoor pipes protect the lines that carry water to the outdoor spigots.
Signs of Burst Pipes
If a pipe bursts in your home from the freezing temperatures, it can create some pretty costly damage, so the sooner you can catch it, the better. If the pipes are frozen, you’ll tell right away from the lack of running water. You’ll need to call a licensed plumber to help thaw them out before they burst.
If you aren’t able to catch the pipes before they burst, there are some key signs to let you know that it’s happened, such as:
- Damp drywall
- Rings on ceilings
- Bubbling paint on the walls or ceiling
- Musty smells
- Banging, clanking, or whistling sounds
If you notice any of these issues around your home, call a plumbing professional immediately.
With the winter months comes the holiday season, and with the holidays, more guests potentially stay in or visit your home. This increased traffic leads to one of the most common winter plumbing issues: clogged drains.
The increased number of people in your Lynnwood, WA, home puts additional strain on the plumbing. With increased food waste going down the drains from holiday meals, more hair accumulating in the shower drains, and more toilet flushes, it can all add up to the potential for more drain clogs.
A clogged drain in your home, though frustrating, is an easy fix for a skilled plumber. If you’re thinking about saving money by using a liquid drain cleaner, don’t. These cleaners contain caustic chemicals that can make the problem worse.
If your drain is backed up, call in a professional to make sure it’s cleared correctly the first time. The only thing worse than a clogged drain is a damaged one, so don’t take any chances.
If multiple drains in your home are clogged, it’s not a coincidence. It’s likely a clog in your plumbing’s mainline that requires a professional plumber to fix.
If you’re expecting an influx of family and friends in your home during the holidays, you can also get ahead of the game by making sure your drains are ready for the additional strain. Professional drain cleaning is the best way to make sure your plumbing is clear prior to the increased workload.
Drain cleaning should be done annually to keep your pipes clear of grease build-up and debris, but if it’s been a while, or you feel the lines are due for a cleaning, call the pros to help avoid any unexpected plumbing problems this holiday season.
Water Heater Issues
An increase in people staying in the home isn’t just hard on the pipes. It places an increased demand on your water heater as well. You may begin to notice that showers aren’t lasting as long as they used to or that it’s taking a lot longer for the water to heat up.
Problems with water heaters during the winter months aren’t uncommon, but that doesn’t make them any less frustrating.
You can avoid some of these issues by having your water heater serviced prior to the busy holiday season. A plumbing professional can help to eliminate any sediment build-up in the tank and inspect it for any signs of wear or damage that may become amplified with the upcoming increased usage.
Toilets also see an increase in usage during the holiday season, which means more chances for potential clogs. You can avoid some of these issues by making sure your guests know what’s safe to flush and what isn’t to help prevent clogs.
Things such as feminine products and “flushable wipes” are big “No’s” when it comes to your plumbing. Even when products say they’re flushable, they really aren’t and can lead to sewer line clogs and back-ups, something no one wants to deal with, especially during the holidays.
Limit what goes down your toilets to waste and toilet paper as best you can with the increased traffic in your home.
If you do encounter a clog that a plunger can’t fix, it’s time to call in a professional. Avoid the home remedies you see online such as hot water (which can shatter your toilet bowl) and drain cleaners, which can do more harm than good.
A professional plumber can get the situation handled quickly and in a manner that’s safe for your plumbing system.
Sump Pump Problems
The role of your sump pump is to drain water in low areas away from your home. Snow can make it challenging for your sump pump to keep up, making sump pump trouble one of the most common issues for plumbing in winter.
In years where the snowfall is particularly heavy, your sump pump may not be able to keep up. As it becomes overwhelmed, the moisture builds up, causing backups as the water freezes.
If you’ve seen this before during periods of heavy rain or snow, you may already know that preventive measures are the best course of action. Call in a plumbing professional before the winter weather starts to clean and inspect the sump pump in your Lynnwood, WA, home.
A frozen sump pump doesn’t just quit working. It tries to keep doing its job, ultimately causing it to overheat and burn out. If your sump pump freezes during the winter months, call in a professional plumber immediately.
Expert Plumbing Repair in Lynnwood, WA
In need of a local professional to help with your Lynnwood home’s plumbing? The plumbing professionals at Steve’s Plumbing are your local experts. For over 20 years, Steve’s Plumbing has provided expert plumbing repair and installation services for King and Snohomish counties.
With a staff of highly trained and experienced plumbers who stay up to date on the latest plumbing repair technologies, you can expect that whatever ails your plumbing will be quickly diagnosed and resolved.
With Steve’s Plumbing, you can always expect two-hour appointment windows, courtesy calls when the plumber is on the way, straightforward pricing, and courteous service throughout the entire process.
Don’t wait to address plumbing issues in your Lynnwood, WA, home. Contact Steve’s Plumbing today to schedule an appointment for your plumbing in winter and all year round.