Recognizing The Signs Of Winter Plumbing Emergencies

Posted on: 23 October 2020

Is your home ready for winter? Properly preparing your home for the frigid months ahead can reduce the odds of disaster, but catastrophe can still strike. Learning to recognize the signs of winter plumbing emergencies is one of the best things you can do to prevent them from causing severe damage to your home.

As with any home emergency, quick and decisive action can save you a significant amount of trouble. Below you'll find three warning signs of cold weather plumbing disasters so that you can contact a plumber before the situation becomes critical.

1. Changes In Drain Behavior

Your supply lines aren't the only pipes in your home that can freeze. If the weather is cold enough, drain pipes can freeze and create significant water back-ups. This situation usually occurs because of an existing problem in the drain that allows for standing water, but that doesn't make any less frustrating. Drain pipes that run through unconditioned areas of your home are most vulnerable.

Although you should never ignore drain problems, you should be particularly cautious during the winter. If pipe-safe do-it-yourself drain cleaning methods don't clear the clog, then contact a plumber immediately. Problems with frozen drain pipes may escalate quickly, so treating stubborn winter clogs as an emergency may prevent your pipes from bursting or cracking in the future.

2. Bulging Pipes

When was the last time you took a trip through your basement, attic, or crawl space to inspect exposed plumbing? If the answer is "never," then don't feel bad because you probably aren't alone. This oft-neglected and straightforward maintenance task can mean the difference between some minor pipe repair and a significant flooding event.

During the winter months, try to check your pipes as often as possible, especially after cold nights. You should always treat signs of bulging or expanding pipes as an emergency. This telltale warning sign is a sure indication that you've got a problem with frozen pipes. Quick action can allow you to thaw your pipe before it bursts.

3. Drain Odors

Smelly drains are usually an indication of sewer line issues, but they can be an early sign of a frozen drainpipe as well. If your drain still works, the smell may result from food and other waste becoming trapped on pieces of ice that have not yet entirely blocked the pipe. Drain smells almost always mean trouble, even when the pipes aren't frozen, so immediately contacting a plumber is often a good idea.

Cold and snowy winters can be unpleasant, but they don't need to lead to costly plumbing repair bills. If you notice any signs of a brewing emergency, do not hesitate to contact an emergency plumber as soon as you can.