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3 Common Winter Plumbing Problems

and how to deal with them


winter plumbing issues

Wintertime in Indianapolis brings frigid temperatures along with freezing rain, snow, and ice, which can wreak havoc on a home’s plumbing system. While we highly recommend winterizing your home to avoid cold-weather plumbing issues, sometimes things happen anyway. Here, we’ll discuss three of the most common plumbing woes brought on by freezing temperatures.

1. Frozen/burst pipes

Water expands when it freezes, and when it freezes inside of a pipe it can exert over 2,000 psi, enough pressure to burst any pipe filled with water. With no place to go as it expands, the ice can completely destroy the pipe and cause thousands of dollars in repairs to your home.

A burst pipe needs immediate attention. Left unchecked, it can cause extensive water damage to your property, creating a potentially inviting environment for mold and mildew.

So how do you know when a pipe has burst? Since it’s not always a loud event, it could happen without your knowledge, while you’re asleep or away from home.

Here are the most common clues that you have a burst pipe:

  • A sudden decrease in water pressure
  • Foul smells coming from the drains
  • Yucky-looking water
  • New or persistent leaks
  • Weird noises
  • Skyrocketing water consumption

To avoid the extreme inconvenience of dealing with the fallout from a burst pipe, it’s important to maintain your plumbing all year round, and keep a keen eye on it once the cold weather hits.

TIP: If you see a layer of frost on an of your pipes, it could have frozen water inside. You can try to thaw pipes before they burst by carefully using a hairdryer, heat lamp, or space heater. Avoid using an open flame.

winter plumbing issues

2. Clogged Drains

Even the most careful homeowners sometimes accidentally wash down the drain something you thought was innocuous. We’ve advised many homeowners to avoid putting anything other than water down your drains, but pipes still collect debris, whether it’s hair, soap scum, or cooking sludge that builds up over time. When the air turns cold, these things can freeze and solidify or get stuck in the frozen water to contribute to a bad clog. To unclog a frozen pipe, try pouring boiling water carefully down the drain to thaw the obstruction. Better yet, call a professional to get the problem taken care of without risking damage or injury, as the clog could be more serious than frozen gunk.

winter plumbing problems

It’s not an emergency if: Your water consumption has moderately increased and you don’t know why. You could have a small leak that will need attention when the plumber’s office opens in the morning.


3. Worn out water heater

Wintertime causes your water heater to work even harder than it does all year in an effort to meet the demands of hot water usage. Needless to say, but this is the worst time for your overworked water heater to break down. If you experience a lack of hot water, inconsistent water temperatures, hear unusual noises coming from the water heater or see water leaking around the base of the unit, call a plumber immediately. Not only is a broken water heater inconvenient and costly, but it could present a legitimate danger, as it could, in certain circumstances, explode.

Moral of the story: Seasonal maintenance is a must. Have your water heater inspected at least twice a year to eliminate costly or dangerous problems later.

winter plumbing problems

Leak Maintenance and Prevention

Maintaining your plumbing components is the most critical action you can take to prevent leaks or other cold-weather-related problems. Be sure to check the pipes around all of your fixtures (sinks, showers, tubs and toilets) for early signs of leaks at the beginning of the winter season.

Finally, if you encounter a plumbing emergency at any time during the day or night, give Hamm & Sons a call at 317-202-9853. Our plumbers are licensed and experienced in all things plumbing and can solve any of your plumbing issues promptly and professionally. We’ll always provide you with honest, up-front pricing and time frames and we’re committed to providing the highest level of service and expertise in the Indianapolis area.

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