It’s the season for winter plumbing issues, so here are a few tips to avoid them. There’s no mystery as to why plumbing takes a hit during the winter: cold weather. Freezing temperatures typically occur during four months of an average year here in Indianapolis (temps have plummeted as low as 22 degrees below zero in extreme cases). During the winter, plumbing problems are generally related to frozen pipes and the effects on water-related appliances, specifically the water heater. Here are some typical scenarios where winter and plumbing don’t get along.

Frozen Pipes

In winter, plumbing doesn’t really freeze at exactly 32 degrees. Usually, temperatures down in the 20s are required. However, once freezing occurs, pressure caused by ice formation inside a pipe can rupture it, flooding the house with hundreds of gallons of water in a short time. Here’s how to avoid winter plumbing problems by preventing frozen pipes:

  • Insulate exposed pipes in unheated zones of the house like the attic or crawl space with foam insulation sleeves.
  • Eliminate cracks or other openings in exterior walls that permit frigid outside air to penetrate the interior structure where pipes are routed.
  • If temperatures significantly lower than 30 degrees are in the forecast, set the furnace thermostat to 65 degrees and keep it on. Reduce winter plumbing damage by opening faucets to allow a continuous trickle of water all night and relieve pressure in the pipes. Open cabinets and closets to allow circulating warmth to infiltrate into the walls.
  • If you see signs of a frozen pipe, such as a sudden loss of water pressure, contact a professional plumber ASAP.
  • Winter plumbing problems also affect drain pipes. Drains are less likely to freeze if the pipe is clear and waste water flows freely. Have chronically sluggish drains professionally cleaned to reduce the risk of freezing.

Water Heaters

To prevent heat loss from water heaters during frigid conditions, ask a plumber about installing an insulating blanket on the heater tank. Also, make sure water heater inlet and outlet pipes are properly insulated.

For professional service to prevent winter plumbing problems, contact Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.