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How to avoid emergency plumbing problems during the winter

With temperatures staying consistently low in the Midwest, and the wind chill dipping into the single digits and below, it’s expected that this cold weather will start to affect home plumbing. Which is why homeowners will want to do what they can now to prevent any emergency plumbing problems in the near future. Because being able to avoid dealing with a burst pipe, lack of hot water, or a frozen pipe blockage is always better than waiting to deal with the issue after an accident has already happened. Get out ahead of the issues, and use these tips to proactively avoid emergency winter plumbing problems.

Address the Small Leaks First

Slight dripping from small leaks is easy to overlook, but those drips become dangerous to leave unattended for too long when the cold weather sets in. These small leaks in pipes or around connections can become vulnerable spots for bursts to occur, as freezing water will cause these little cracks to expand into large holes. Identifying these relatively small issues and making sure they’re taken care of by a professional before water freezes within the cracks and crevices will help ensure pipes avoid bursting. 

One beneficial leak, though, is the leak from a faucet. Let faucets maintain a steady, minute drip to keep a small amount of water flowing through the pipes. This small amount of running water acts as a deterrent against water freezes, as the motion of the water keeps the water slightly warmer than if it was stationary. It might not seem like a lot by itself, but it should be enough to stop the water from freezing in most indoor sinks and faucets.

Pay Attention to a Lack of Water Pressure

Speaking of faucets, if there is an increasing lack of water pressure coming from faucets in the kitchen or bathroom, this is a tell-tale sign of an issue to look into more closely. More than likely, the sudden change in water pressure is coming from a minor blockage forming within the home’s plumbing. Left alone, this blockage will cause issues in its own right, but combined with freezing water in the pipes will quickly lead to a burst pipe, as frozen water increases the pressure in the pipe until it splits. 

Make sure more vulnerable pipes — those in more exposed areas such as basements, or outside — are insulated using foam insulation. This can easily be done as a weekend DIY project with materials from any major retailers, but homeowners that are unsure about the process can contact professionals for assistance as well.

Don’t Turn to Liquid Drain Cleaners — Keep Pipes Protected

One resource that homeowners should avoid when addressing a clogged pipe is over the counter drain cleaners. While these chemical drain cleaners can provide temporary relief, the damage they create leaves the piper worse for wear, and incidentally, more vulnerable to issues such as bursting in freezing temperatures. As the cleaner eats through the clogged material, it also erodes the interior of the pipes, thinning the walls, and creating interior pockets and divots closer to outer wall of the pipe which are ideal areas for ice to form. 

Sump Pump Problems

Tucked away in the basement, out of sight and mind, the sump pump is easily overlooked every season. While snow and ice pile up outside, though, the sump pump has to be ready to play an important role in redirecting all of that potential moisture. If a sump pump is older, or already having issues, it can easily be overwhelmed by the sudden influx of water created by melting snow and ice collecting around the foundation of a home, potentially causing a sump pump to back up or partially flood a basement. This is a major headache to have to deal with, so it’s best to make sure the sump pump is well maintained and has been looked at by a professional to ensure it’s ready for the winter and spring thaw long before it’s time to be called to action.

A Professional Inspection

The most important step homeowners can take is scheduling a professional pipe inspection before freezing temperatures swoop in, especially if there are any major issues identified by homeowners. A professional will be able to conduct a thorough examination of the home’s pipes, noting and addressing any issues before they end up snowballing into something worse. An annual inspection is always a safe bet for ensuring the integrity of a home’s plumbing, so if one hasn’t been completed yet, now is an excellent time to have one scheduled and completed.

If you are looking for help to address any at-home plumbing fixes, or are worried about a potential plumbing issue you spotted around the house that could worsen with the cold weather, reach out to the experts at Duane Blanton Plumbing, Sewer, Heating, and Cooling. The plumbing experts at Duane Blanton can provide helpful advice and solutions to homeowners to ensure their plumbing stays safe no matter the weather outside. Schedule a plumbing inspection today with the licensed professionals at Duane Blanton Plumbing, Sewer, Heating, and Cooling, or reach out with questions by calling (815) 781-2567. You can also schedule service right from your online or mobile browser through their convenient online scheduling portal!


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