November 21, 2013 – Dateline Lake Orion, Michigan
The winter can bring about cold weather plumbing disasters. As far as plumbing goes for the winter there is an old adage that comes to mind which is an once or prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. No truer words could be spoken as far as winter plumbing goes. A serious plumbing problem in the dead of winter can result in thousands of dollars in plumbing repairs, excavations and damage restoration.
If you have an oil burner to heat your home, you could end up with frozen oil lines. If you end up with any water in your fuel lines, you could end up with the fuel freezing inside your fuel lines during extremely cold weather. Sludge and water can build up in oil tanks and lead to this problem. This can be partially prevented from occurring by having a professional drain and clean out your oil tank. Pipe insulation will also help to prevent this costly problem from occurring. If your hot oil heaters lines freeze and heat ceases in your home as a result, it could lead to further problems such as your water line pipes freezing and bursting.
Another problem faced by people in the winter time is a lack of hot water. If your water temperature gauge is set between 115 and 120 degrees and you are still not getting hot water to your shower and faucets, your water lines likely are uninsulated or running through an outside wall. To solve or prevent this from occurring, have your pipes insulted, especially in vulnerable areas. Older construction homes tend to experience this issue more so than newer build homes.
The worst problem however by far faced in the winter that leads to cold weather plumbing disasters is that of burst or cracked pipes. If the water is allowed to freeze with in your pipes, they will burst or crack. it does not matter what material your pipes are made of, be it copper, steal or plastic, pipes are not designed to withstand the pressure of freezing water. Even a small crack can result in a major flood, causing thousands of dollars in damages.
To help prevent frozen and burst pipes, it helps to have all of your vulnerable pipes insulated. Pipe insulation is rather inexpensive compared to the cost of clean up and repairs after a burst pipe in the middle of winter. Allowing heated air to reach all of your pipes is also vital in helping to prevent them from freezing over. Leaving open the doors to your kitchen and bathroom sinks will help keep those pipes heated. You should make sure your home is never below 55 degrees F, and that your entire home gets even heating. DO not just heat some areas of your home, heat them all equally. Know where your water shut of valves are in case of an emergency, and do by all means learn the proper pipe layout of your home. Knowing which pipes are more vulnerable to the cold is vital in preventing a burst pipe disaster. For example pipes on an outside wall are more vulnerable to the cold during winter, and it is these pipes which may require preventive measures such as insulation. Shutting off water to outside plumbing systems that will not see use during the winter will also help prevent a plumbing disaster at your home during the cold season. After you have shut off water to your outdoor plumbing pipes, you should then drain them completely of any and all water so that only air remains inside. If you have a lawn sprinkler system, pipes leading to fountains, ponds, hot tubs or pools, turn off the water to all of these and drain the pipes. Also remember to do the same for any garden hoses you may have, for these too are not immune to freezing.
Remember winter plumbing disasters for the most part can be completely avoided with proper pre season maintenance. Learn your plumbing systems and heating systems, and learn basic maintenance for these systems and practice them every year and you likely will never face a cold weather plumbing disaster. If you do face an unexpected plumbing disaster, shut off your water valves and call a master plumber to assist you.
This release was provided by the Plumbing Pros from Tri County Plumbing, who provide emergency plumbing services to the greater S.E. Michigan and Northern Ohio areas, to learn more about Mike Wallace and the Tri County Plumbers please visit Mike on Google+ and Twitter