Dec 1, 2022 | Columbus, Back Up, Clog, Damage, Emergency Plumber, Five Star, Frozen, Frozen Pipes, Indoor Pipes, Kitchen Drain, Outdoor Drain, Outdoor Pipes, Pulumbing Problems, Septic Tank, Sump Pump, Water Heater, Winter

With winter at our door, we are once again reminded of the frigid temps that grace our threshold. Cold weather affects everyone differently. Some people love it, while others don’t. However, no matter what your seasonal preferences are, there’s no doubt that harsh winter weather can be detrimental to your plumbing system without proper preventative measures. And even then, we sometimes have to accept the fact that the unpredictable still happens. For this reason, we at Five Star Columbus Plumbing are talking about seven of the most frequent plumbing issues that occur in the wintertime. Though you may not be able to completely deter unfortunate events from happening, knowing the source of the most common issues can help you plan ahead and decrease the chances of them surfacing this winter.  


As we are all familiar with how much temperature drops around the holiday season, it makes sense that water temperatures are also drastically affected as well. However, your warm water needs will not decrease, thus leaving your water heater with only one thing to do – work harder to compensate for the colder weather. Because of this, water heaters take a big hit in the winter season and therefore are one of the most common reasons your plumbing system may experience problems from being overworked. To prevent this, keep in mind that your water heater should be inspected, cleaned, and drained by a service professional once a year. Furthermore, you may increase your water heater’s temperature by a few degrees if you feel the need to do so, but you should never set it higher than 125 degrees, as this can be a safety hazard.  


Pipes are susceptible to freezing in extremely cold temperatures. Because metal is a thermal conductor, when cold air is met with the water within pipes, coupled with built-up pressure, it can result in frozen pipes, which is never ideal. Moreover, frozen pipes are prone to bursting. To avoid this, you can leave your faucets slightly open on particularly cold nights, so water can flow and prevent freezing. You may also leave your cabinet doors under the sink open, thus showcasing the pipes to warm up from the inside. And finally, using operational valves can reduce pressure in your pipe system. Remember that water damage can have both short- and long-term consequences. Any possible damage could lower the value of your property. You will not only have to pay for repairs, but you may also need to replace everything that has water damage.   


Next, think about your kitchen drain. The winter season also signifies the holidays, which means lots of cooking, baking, and hosting gatherings with loved ones. It’s a busy time of the year for the residential kitchen. So, be sure not to let it slip away from you. It’s more important than ever to ensure you practice proper care of your kitchen sink and garbage disposal. It’s probably safe to assume you don’t want to deal with a nasty kitchen clog in the middle of your house guests’ arrival. Avoid this unpleasant situation altogether by cleaning your garbage disposal frequently. There are garbage disposal tabs you can purchase that will aid in this. Just be sure to follow the instructions to a tee. Secondly, don’t pour grease, thick fluids, and improper foods down the drain. In addition, to deter guests during house parties from clogging up your sink with food particles, placing a trashcan in front of or near the sink should signal them to throw their scraps in there.  


Typically, we suggest that if you have a sump pump in your home, you should test it before winter. But it’s not too late to test it out now, either. Making sure it is functional is important in a huge snowstorm because once the snow starts to melt, you will need your sump pump to operate at its highest efficiency. One thing to keep in mind is if your sump pump is in the basement, make sure to maintain the temperature in the basement as well, as this will prevent it from freezing. Secondly, clean the vicinity of the sump pump, making sure dust, debris, and other particles (such as pet fur, etc.) don’t accumulate that could potentially clog up your sump pump. To test the pump out directly, you may pour water into it to see if the float activates and responds. If it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! 


You read that right. Septic tanks can freeze too! So, we highly recommend inspecting the area around your septic tank to see if it is adequately covered for the winter. A frozen septic tank is an unpleasant but common winter plumbing issue we witness repeatedly. But with just a few minor prevention methods, you can significantly reduce the chances of dealing with this undesirable issue. In addition, frozen septic tanks can lead to sewage backup in your home. So, don’t delay in trying these tips out:   

  1. Check the area over the septic tank for soil erosion. You may find that some parts may need soil added on top. Just be sure not to compress the soil down.  
  2. Straw acts as an excellent and affordable insulating layer. So, once you have confirmed the soil layer is adequate, cover the top of the soil with straw to insulate your tank even further.  


Pipes located outdoors are not completely out of the clear when it comes to freezing issues. They can freeze up and burst too. Next, think about your outdoor faucets, fixtures, etc. If you have any garden hoses, by this time, they should have already been disconnected, drained, and stored for the winter. But if you haven’t done so yet, it’s not too late. You can do this as soon as possible. Another great means of protection is using foam hose bibs to provide an extra layer of insulation over the faucet. And lastly, be sure to turn off the outdoor faucets as well. Water damage is most common on exterior walls because, typically, they are not protected as well as interior walls. So, when water from outdoor pipes freezes and then expands, it can lead to cracks and deformation of your pipes, resulting in leaks in difficult-to-reach places inside your walls. Often, homeowners don’t realize a problem until the damage has already been done.  


Outdoor drains are also vulnerable to freezing and breaking. If you have plastic outdoor drains, consider replacing them with metal pieces. Plastic gets brittle under freezing temperatures, causing them to break when placed under the weight of ice. And most importantly, try to keep the area surrounding the drains clear of outdoor debris such as leaves, twigs, and other loose particles. Doing this will enable the snow to drain properly when it melts.  

Due to the water inside your pipes, drains, fixtures, etc., your plumbing system is in a vulnerable state during the cold winter Ohio is so well known for. But keeping these tips and tricks in mind, provided by your loyal Five Star Columbus Plumbing professionals, will help you to stay ahead of potential plumbing issues and assist you in understanding just how these plumbing dilemmas come about. Today at (614) 401-8086, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here!