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Month: December 2016

Frozen Pipes: What You Need To Know

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We’ve all heard them – horror stories of pipes bursting in winter, causing hundreds of dollars of damage. Those stories are exactly why it’s so important to understand what happens when a pipe freezes and how to prevent it from ever happening in your home.

We’re sure you remember learning that water expands when frozen. It’s a lesson every kid in grade school learns, and remembers when a frozen water bottle bursts in their car years later. When water freezes in a pipe, it expands and causes the pipe to crack, no matter how sturdy the pipe was before.

Generally the most vulnerable pipes are those exposed to the outdoors such as hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and pipes located in higher or unheated areas like attics, garages, crawl spaces, and outside walls.

One of the most noticeable signs of a frozen pipe is a drastic decrease in water pressure. More times than not, if your water pressure suddenly decreases in the winter, it’s probably due to a frozen pipe.

There has to be a way to prevent pipes from freezing though, right? You’re in luck! We’ve compiled a fairly lengthy list below to try and save you the trouble of calling us, even though we love hearing from you.

  • Installing your pipes in either an insulated or heated area can help to keep them warm.
  • If your pipes are already installed in an uninsulated area, you can fit them with insulation sleeves or wrapping. You can also install a heating cable to run alongside pipes.
  • Burying outdoor pipes lower in the ground, specifically below the frost line, can be very effective.
  • This one seems obvious, but turning up the heat indoors can help. We know you want to save money on your heating bill, but is a few dollars of savings worth hundreds in repair?
  • Believe it or not, opening cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathroom can help the heat reach pipes nestled in the wall behind them.
  • If you have pipes in your garage, make sure to keep the garage door closed at all times to help retain as much heat as possible.
  • Never let your thermostat reach below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, this even applies when you’re going out of town.
  • In extremely cold conditions, and we mean extremely cold, letting a faucet drip can help prevent a pipe from freezing or a frozen pipe from bursting.
  • Outdoor winterization is extremely important. Before the first freeze, make sure to remove, drain, and store all outdoor hoses. Close the inside valves supplying water to the hose bib and then open the outside bib to allow any remaining water to drain. You can even leave the outside bib open throughout the winter. That way, if there is any water still in there, pressure is never able to build and cause a pipe to burst.

We know it’s a lot to take in, but taking five minutes to learn about frozen pipes can really save you a lot of hassle in the long run. If you suspect a frozen pipe, please call us immediately! Acting quickly can help to prevent any further damage.

Common Winter Plumbing Problems

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It’s that time of year again – the holiday season! A time to welcome long days and nights spent with friends and family. What you don’t want to welcome are plumbing emergencies.

However, more times than not, plumbing emergencies tend to occur at the most inopportune times. If your home is the hub of holiday activity, your plumbing system is left vulnerable. The added guests using your sinks, toilets, and tubs can seriously strain your plumbing system.

Below are some of the most common winter plumbing issues and how to avoid them. The last thing anyone wants is for their holiday season to be tarnished by a plumbing emergency.

Clogged Kitchen Sinks

The holidays are often accompanied by plate after plate of delicious foods. It is important to be careful when preparing and disposing of those foods. Don’t ever pour grease, oil, or coffee grounds into your sink. Also, avoid disposing of fibrous foods with the garbage disposal. Instead, just toss them into the trash.

Water isn’t able to rinse these types of liquids and foods down the drain, leading to buildup in your pipes and an inevitable clog.

To learn more about keeping your pipes clear this holiday season, read this blog we previously wrote on the subject. And, if a clog does occur, please call us instead of using an over-the-counter drain cleaner – you’ll thank us in the long run.

Water Line Leaks/Breaks

Winterizing your plumbing is a lengthy but necessary process. If you fail to winterize correctly, it can lead to a lot of time and money down the road.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare is to completely drain all garden hoses and shut off the valves leading to them. If an undrained hose is left connected after a freeze, the ice in the hose gradually builds pressure in your home’s water lines. This could lead to either a break or a leak.

Broken Hot Water Heater

Like we mentioned above, emergencies always occur at the worst times. That’s exactly why your hot water heater is liable to quit as soon as there’s a chill in the air. The cold air takes a toll on the heater, but with proper maintenance, your water heater should continue functioning correctly.

It is important to never let your water heater’s temperature gauge surpass 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If your gauge is set at that or below and your water isn’t very hot, it’s time to give us a call.

As you can see, there are a lot of plumbing issues that can arise in the winter months. We firmly believe that knowing what the issues are and the symptoms of each is half the battle – the other half is a simple phone call to your friendly plumbing guys!