How Winter Affects Your Plumbing System

Your home’s plumbing system is susceptible to problems during winter. If not looked after, the icy season can cause leaks, broken pipes, clogged drains, and other issues that may entail inconvenience or expense. Here are some problems that usually happen to plumbing systems during winter:

Frozen Pipes

Water freezes at temperatures of 32°F and below. This means water can solidify mid-flow through pipes and obstruct the flow. Outdoor pipes that are not insulated or installed below the frost line are very prone to freezing. Even those inside your house are at risk of icing up, especially if the room they are in is unheated. Here are some signs of frozen pipes:

  • No (or very little) water coming out of the faucets
  • Frost on a pipe’s exterior
  • A pipe that has a bulge or crack on it
  • Whistling or banging sounds from within the pipes
  • Unusual sounds when flushing the toilet
  • Damp spots in the ceiling or drywalls

    Frozen pipes will most likely swell or crack. This brings us to another possible plumbing problem during winter.

    Burst Pipes

    As water expands and freezes, it increases pressure inside a pipe. When the pressure becomes too much to contain, the pipe/s can burst open. This is something you would not want to happen, as it can cause flooding or extensive water damage to your house, especially if you don’t notice the issue early. Here are signs to watch out for:

    • Weak or fluctuating water pressure from faucets or showers
    • Water bill spiked significantly
    • Hot water from the shower suddenly gets cold
    • Foul smell coming from the faucets, sinks, drains, and toilets
    • Bulging walls and ceilings
    • Puddles of water on floors
    • Gurgling or bubbling sounds from within the pipes

    Clogged Drains

    While sink drains can get clogged at any time, it is more likely to happen in the winter. For kitchen sinks in particular, water isn’t your only concern; grease and food debris can also freeze up and clog the drains. To help prevent clogging from getting worse, be mindful of these signs:

    • There is a foul smell coming from the drain.
    • The water goes back up the drain.
    • The water drains slowly.
    • Fruit or drain flies come in and out of the drain.

    Clogged drains and frozen water piping are things you should prevent during the winter to avoid bigger problems and expenses. Here are some important things to keep in mind during cold weather to help keep pipes from freezing:

    • Keep the temperature in the house set accordingly
    • Maintain good air circulation
    • Open cabinet doors to areas that are on outside walls
    • Remove hoses and turn off water to outside faucets.

    If you live in Madison, WI, and need to get your home’s plumbing system winterized or fixed, contact HJ Pertzborn Plumbing & Fire Protection. We have been providing residential and commercial plumbing services in Madison, WI since 1928.