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Tips For Dealing With Common Winter Plumbing Problems


Winter is here, and for the next several months there will be the lingering possibility of bitter cold that could not only be a health risk if you spend any extended time outdoors, but also a risk to your property. As plumbers, we are particularly focused on the potential problems that could occur to your pipes and plumbing systems during the coldest months of the year.

You can avoid an emergency plumbing situation this winter by being proactive about your preventative maintenance. Here are a few examples of some of the most common winter plumbing problems and what you can do to avoid them.

Frozen Indoor Pipes

The simplest method of preventing your indoor pipes from freezing is to make sure you maintain an indoor temperature of at least 13 degrees Celsius during the winter, including when you are away from home. That is a bare minimum temperature—we’d generally recommend going higher than that, and if you’re going to be home you’ll want to keep it warmer to stay comfortable anyway.

If you have pipes located in cabinets near outdoor walls, it can be beneficial to open those cabinets at night or when you will be away to let warm air into the cabinets and circulate around the pipes. You could also consider insulating your pipes so you don’t have to remember to open those cabinets. If you notice a sudden drop in water pressure, it could be a sign of freezing pipes—keep an eye on your plumbing fixtures and pipes and make sure they don’t show any signs of freezing, especially during extreme cold.

Frozen Outdoor Pipes

If you have pipes located outdoors, you’ll need to act while the weather is still warm. Turn off water to the outdoors using the shut-off valves somewhere on your property (often in the basement, under sinks near the outside wall or in the garage). In addition, make sure you open the outside value too to allow the residual water to drain out of the line. This will prevent those pipes from freezing during winter and from cracking or bursting. You can also add insulation to outdoor pipes or cover them with permanent or temporary shelters.

Basement Flooding

Basement flooding tends to occur with the melting of snow during or after the winter. Check all the main drainage areas on your property and make sure there’s a clear path for the water runoff to go. Clear out leaves and other blockages so the water doesn’t collect in a single area, which could cause it to run down through your foundation.

Water Heater Inefficiency

Ensuring the efficiency of your water heater can help you save money during winter and also keep the appliance in good condition for a longer period of time. Keep the area around the water heater as warm as possible. This is especially going to be an issue for homes with unheated basements, or if the water heater is located in the garage. It can help to add insulation or caulk to any areas where cold air could get in, and to close off crawl spaces where appropriate. If your water heater is showing signs of malfunctioning, get it serviced as soon as possible.

For more tips to help you prevent some major plumbing issues this winter, contact one of the professionals at PipeMasters today: info@pipemasters.ca or (289) 404-9063. Pipemasters is part of Oakridge Plumbing Ontario Ltd. All rights reserved.
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