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.

Is it Time to Replace Your Plumbing?

Frustrated women holding bucket to catch water leaking from ceiling. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals ways to determine if it's time to replace your home's plumbing.

Frustrated women holding bucket to catch water leaking from ceiling. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals ways to determine if it's time to replace your home's plumbing.Pipes, like most other things, will eventually need to be replaced. This is especially true if your plumbing is over 50-years-old and still has galvanized steel piping. Your plumbing can begin to fail due to age, lack of maintenance, or extreme weather fluctuations. And when your plumbing completely fails, you run the risk of property damage.

Your plumbing, for the most part, is concealed behind walls and concrete so you may not often think about it; out of sight, out of mind. So today, we’re delving into home plumbing and discussing ways you can help identify a failing plumbing system.

Signs of Failing Plumbing

Some of the most obvious signs that your plumbing is failing are:

  • Water leaks
  • Corrosion
  • Cracked pipes

However, you may also experience:

  • Water-stained floors
  • Warped flooring
  • Wet baseboards
  • Low water pressure
  • Unusual noises in your plumbing, like gurgling or rattling
  • Frequent clogs
  • Rust-colored water

Frequent plumbing repairs are another indicator that your plumbing is failing. If you’re constantly spending time and money on repairs, you may want to consider entirely replacing your home’s plumbing. Getting your home repiped will save you more money in the long run.

Types of Piping

There are a variety of pipe materials out there used in home plumbing, each with its own set of lifespans. At D & F Plumbing, we strongly believe in copper and PEX (PolyEthylene Cross-linked) for home plumbing.

PEX blue piping. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals ways to determine if it's time to replace your home's plumbing.
PEX piping.
  • PEX: This is a high-density plastic material manufactured without solvents, chemicals or glues. It is durable, flexible, and it doesn’t corrode, freeze, or scale. PEX also requires fewer fittings and less labor, making the installation process quicker and affordable.
Up close of copper piping. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals ways to determine if it's time to replace your home's plumbing.
Copper piping.
  • Copper: Copper has been the preferred material for decades. This material is corrosion resistant and has a lifespan of about 50+ years.

It’s also worth noting, both of the materials can be used in conjunction with one another.

The Benefits of a Whole House Repipe

  • Improved water pressure
  • No more water leaks
  • High-quality water
  • Peace of mind
  • A positive selling point for your home
  • Increase in home’s value

The Problem with Galvanized Pipes

If your home was built over 20 years ago, you may have corroded or damaged pipes that could cause you costly problems for you later. Galvanized metal pipes which were common before 1960 can deteriorate very quickly and cost you thousands of dollars in water damage. They can also contain amounts of lead.

If you think your home could use a copper repipe or PEX repipe, you’ll want to contact your local plumbing company, for an estimate.