5 Common Winter Plumbing Issues

5 common winter plumbing issues in Vancouver WA and Portland OR - D&F Plumbing Services

5 common winter plumbing issues in Vancouver WA and Portland OR - D&F Plumbing ServicesOnce you’ve got your fuzzy socks and a warm mug of cocoa, you’re all ready for winter – right? Well, though these things are definitely essentials, you might be missing a couple of important steps. Before you bundle up for the winter, it’s important to prepare your home – or more specifically, your plumbing system – for the cold weather.

Your plumbing system is particularly susceptible to breaking in freezing temperatures, and damages could be quite expensive to repair. Experts estimate that a single burst pipe costs about $5,000 in damages (eek!). To ensure your home is protected from the cold weather, it’s important to know about the common winter plumbing issues and how to prevent them:

1. Burst Pipes

When water freezes inside of a pipe, it expands and causes an increase in pressure that could cause the pipe to break. That’s why burst pipes are such a common problem in winter, and why it’s crucial to protect your plumbing system as temperatures drop. To avoid a burst pipe, you can insulate exposed pipes with heating tape or other pipe insulation. If you aren’t sure how to properly insulate your pipes, an expert may be able to help.

2. Clogged Drains

Clogged drains are a common plumbing issue that can happen during any season. However, winter holidays often mean more cooking and more guests. The combination of increased usage and possible substances – like oil or fat – going down the drain could cause a tough clog. To prevent a backup this winter, try to keep things like coffee grounds, eggshells, and grease from going down the drain.

3. Water Heater Failure

When cold temperatures hit, your water heater has to work much harder to bring you the same amount of warm water – especially if you have guests who are increasing your water usage. The extra strain on your water heater could increase wear and tear while amplifying any problems with your unit. To ensure your water heater is prepared for winter, we recommend draining your tank and scheduling a professional inspection.

4. Frozen Septic Tanks

Septic systems are particularly susceptible to the cold. If your tank freezes over, it could prevent bacteria from treating the sewage, which may cause your tank to overflow or leak raw sewage. That is why it’s critical to winterize your septic tank before winter is in full swing. You can do so by insulating exposed pipes, regularly using hot water, and keeping the drain field clear of any traffic. If it has been 2 or more years since you last pumped your tank, you may also want to do so before winter to avoid backups. To ensure your septic system is totally protected from the cold, you could also contact an expert for personalized recommendations.

5. Leaks and Drips

Leaks and drips are common plumbing problems year-round, but they are more common in the winter. Cold temperatures often cause old or weakened pipes to freeze over and develop more leaks, which are often more challenging to fix in winter weather. To prevent more leaks and drips in the winter, we recommend scheduling a professional inspection to fix any weakened pipes before cold weather sets in.

Plumbing Winterization in Portland OR

Winterizing your plumbing system is an important part of protecting your home from the damage that freezing temperatures can cause. A little bit of preparation and maintenance could save you a lot of time, money, and stress.

If you want to ensure your plumbing system is completely protected from the cold, call a licensed plumber like those at D & F Plumbing to get personalized recommendations. Our skilled technicians have been proudly serving the greater Portland OR area for nearly 100 years, and we can use our expertise to help keep your home safe all winter long. If you want help winterizing your plumbing, call the experts at D & F Plumbing today!

Oh Snap! Don’t Let a Frozen Pipe Ruin Your Winter

Learn how to avoid frozen pipes with the D&F Plumbing experts in Vancouver WA!

Learn how to avoid frozen pipes with the D&F Plumbing experts in Vancouver WA!A frozen or burst pipe can really throw a wrench in your winter plans. The last thing you want is to be patching leaks over the holidays or redirecting a waterfall on New Year’s. But, as temperatures drop, your plumbing system could freeze or crack, leading to some serious and potentially costly problems.

So, as winter sets in, it’s time to get snappy and protect your plumbing! Here are some tips for keeping your pipes in good shape through freezing temperatures this winter:

  • Wrap pipes with insulating materials. Wrapping any exposed pipes in insulating materials, such as heating tape or mineral wool, is a great way to protect them from the cold. That way, they won’t freeze over and risk cracking and leaking.
  • Seal leaks around your home. A lot of homes have some drafty areas. But, if your home has a lot of cold air blowing near your plumbing system, it could become an issue. Sealing off any air leaks around dryer vents, pipes, or electrical wiring can keep your pipes from freezing.
  • Shut off and drain water from outdoor plumbing. Your outdoor pipes are most at risk of freezing and breaking. Since most of us don’t use our outdoor spigots during winter, it’s usually best to shut off water to your outdoor plumbing when cold weather hits. We also recommend draining the pipes and storing your garden hoses indoors.
  • Keep your thermostat the same temperature day and night. A lot of people are in the habit of shutting off their thermostat for the night – after all, you’ll be cozy and wrapped in blankets anyway! But, temperatures are lowest at night, and a particularly cold night is all it would take to freeze your pipes.
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks and near exterior walls. The heat inside of your home can seep into your exterior walls, keeping your pipes nice and toasty. Opening up cabinet doors near exterior walls can facilitate the transfer of warmth from your home to your plumbing system.
  • Keep garage doors closed as much as possible. The more you keep your garage doors open, the colder your home – and plumbing system – can become. Keeping your garage doors closed can protect the pipes near that part of your house.
  • Thaw frozen pipes with warm water or hair dryers. If worse comes to worst and you notice a pipe is frozen solid, you’ll want to thaw it out quickly. Warm water or the heat from a hairdryer will likely do the trick. It’s important to remember that this should only be used as a last-resort tactic, and you should never use an open flame to thaw out a frozen pipe.
  • Call for help immediately if you run into problems. If you wake up to a burst pipe or a flooded basement, it’s important to call for immediate help. An experienced plumber can help fix the leak quickly and efficiently while providing some guidance on how to prevent future plumbing problems.

Dependable Plumbers in the Pacific Northwest

Winter plumbing problems can be intimidating, not to mention costly without the right attention. However, you’re not alone! The expert technicians at D & F Plumbing in Vancouver WA and Portland OR are committed to helping you keep your plumbing system in great condition. Whether you are facing broken pipes or just want help with winterizing your plumbing, we’ve got you covered! Just give us a call today to get started!

Winter Plumbing Tips

Frozen outdoor pipe. D & F talks about winter plumbing tips to help prevent a pipe from rupturing in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Frozen outdoor pipe. D & F talks about winter plumbing tips to help prevent a pipe from rupturing in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Frozen pipes and burst pipes are expensive and stressful to deal with. During cold temperatures, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage, estimating about $5,000 in repairs. Yikes! Save yourself the cost, stress, and damage related to frozen pipes and follow these helpful winter plumbing tips from us instead, before Old Man Winter strikes! You’ll be glad you did.

Insulate Pipes

The pipes most at risk are the ones located in attics, garages, and crawl spaces. However, pipes in cupboards and exterior walls can also freeze. One way to protect the pipes in these vulnerable areas is with pipe insulation. Pipe insulation is affordable, easy to install, and can be found at most hardware stores.

You can also use a heat cable for vulnerable pipes as long as you have an electrical outlet nearby.

Apply Faucet Covers

Whether you call them faucets or sillcocks these outdoor plumbing fixtures can burst from cold air if left unprotected. Drain all of your outside faucets and cover them. You can purchase foam faucet covers from most retailers. After you’ve insulated your outdoor faucets, deactivate them at the shutoff valve.

Winterize Outdoor Drains

Remove foliage and other debris from your gutters, downspouts, and storm drains to ensure all of your exterior drains work properly. This will help prevent flooding during heavy rainfall and snow.

Shut off the Water When Leaving Town

If you’re heading out of town for a few days, you may want to shut off your main water supply. This will help prevent excessive damage if your pipes do freeze and burst while you’re gone.

Keep Your Thermostat Consistent

Although many homeowners tend to lower their thermostats to save money, this plan may actually backfire. Burst pipes cost much more than the money you’d be saving on your energy bill. Instead, we recommend you keep your thermostat settings consistent throughout the day and night. This will keep your home comfortable and keep your pipes free of ice.

Inspect Your Water Heater

You rely on your water heater for showers, laundry, and dishes. The last thing you want is for your water heater to break during a cold snap, so make sure it is running properly and efficiently. Signs you may need water heater maintenance or repairs include rusty water, water leaks, and unusual sounds from your water heater.

Keep Kitchen Drains Clear

This time of year is a common time for holiday gatherings and feasts. Just be sure to properly dispose of food. Don’t pour grease, oils, or fats down your kitchen drain or garbage disposal or you may suffer a drain clog.

Let the grease harden then scrape it in a trash can. If you do experience a kitchen drain clog, don’t use any store-bought products. These are not long-term solutions and can damage your pipes as they carve away at the lining. Instead, contact your local plumber. They have professional-grade equipment like snakes and video inspection tools.

What to do if you have a frozen pipe

If you have a frozen pipe, it’s important to react as quickly as possible before it bursts. Apply warm rags to the pipe. If the pipe is inaccessible, contact your local plumber to thaw it and inspect it for damage.

We hope these tips help you as you work to winterize your plumbing this year. If you have a frozen pipe or burst pipe on your hands, give us a call. We provide emergency plumbing services and affordable financing.