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While plumbing mishaps can happen at any time during the course of the year, they are far more likely to occur during winter months. This is due to the temperature extremes. Even in the mild winters of Arlington, TX, homeowners are more likely to experience plumbing issues in the colder months.
According to the Insurance Journal, nearly a quarter of all homeowners insurance claims in 2016 were due to damaged plumbing pipes from freezing and/or bursting between November and April, and the average claim was over $4,000. To help avoid a costly and inconvenient emergency that will require a professional plumbing service this season, here’s a guide to some of the more common winter plumbing issues, how to prevent them, and what to do if they do occur in your home.
Pipes freezing and bursting are a top plumbing service concern in the winter months even in TX, as they can cause thousands of dollars in damage to a home. When ice gets trapped in a pipe, as pressure builds or if it begins to thaw at all and expand, that water and ice has nowhere to go but directly through the pipe walls, resulting in disaster. Older and poorly-insulated pipes, as well as those in areas that are not well heated such as above a garage or in a basement, are in the most danger of becoming frozen.
One of the best things homeowners in can do to prevent frozen pipes is to call a professional plumber like Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to insulate them. Many pipes in older buildings and in basements or crawl spaces are not insulated, making them considerably more vulnerable to freezing. As a general rule of them, if you can see the metal of a plumbing pipe, it needs insulation.
A simple thing homeowners themselves can do during the coldest days and weeks of winter is allow the faucets to very slowly trickle overnight. This gives the water a place to escape to, versus being trapped inside and potentially freezing solid. This is especially effective from faucets on an exterior wall of the home, like a garden hose hookup. Another trick homeowners can put into practice is opening cabinet doors that are under sinks or appliances, which allows a bit more heat to flow and come into contact with those plumbing pipes.
If you do still experience frozen pipes despite using these tips, shut off your home’s main water supply (the valve is typically located under the kitchen sink or may be outside) right away and contact a professional plumbing service.
Water Heater Failure
People use more cold water during the winter months, and the water entering the water heater is also much colder than in the summer, which puts additional strain on it. Even under normal circumstances, deposits of sediment and rust can form and build up in water heaters, gradually causing cracks and leaks inside the metal.
Keep an eye on the water flow in your home to monitor its pressure and temperature. If you notice a loss of water pressure or decreasing water temperatures, or any bizarre sounds coming from the water heater itself, contact a plumber right away. A professional plumbing service such as Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Arlington TX can perform any necessary maintenance or repairs before you’re facing a plumbing disaster in your home.
With the holiday season comes an increase in the amount of cooking done in your kitchen and the number of guests in your home, putting additional stress on your home’s plumbing system as sinks and toilets are used more and food scraps are put down drains more often. Whether it’s simply a slow shower drain or a completely backed up kitchen pipe, this is a plumbing issue seen commonly during the winter months.
A professional plumbing service in Arlington, TX can perform a drain inspection or drain cleaning service to relieve a clogged drain or pipes, but in the meantime, here some things you can do to prevent a clog or backup from happening in the first place:
- Avoid putting greasy or starchy items down your garbage disposal. These items essentially act like glue and can stick to and build up on the sides of the disposal, narrowing the opening and making it function much less effectively.
- Do not put large food items into the garbage disposal. There is a common misconception that disposals are meant for exactly that, but larger items cause them to work far too hard, and there is a large risk of a blockage occurring in the pipe if the item is not broken down enough.
- Turn hot water on and continue to run it as items are going through the garbage disposal. This prevents a potentially dangerous buildup and ensures those items flow completely through the pipes.
- Consider putting inexpensive drain screens in showers or bathtubs and kitchen sinks to prevent hair and soap residue from going down the drain. Hair is one of the leading causes of drain clogs and it can really cause a significant problem.
- Only flush toilet paper down toilets. Baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, diapers, facial cleansing cloths, or anything similar do not belong in toilets and cause serious backups.
Winter is a festive time to be cozy in your home and enjoy celebrations and special moments with family and other loved ones. The last thing you want to have to worry about is a plumbing emergency, so keep this guide and tips in mind to maintain the health of your home’s plumbing system.
If you do encounter a plumbing issue, contact the plumbing service professionals of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Arlington, TX to take care of it. A time of celebration is not when you want to be attempting a DIY repair for the first time. Happy holidays!