Winters in Australia can get uncomfortably cold. As much as they make you shiver, they can also trouble your plumbing. Homeowners often struggle to take care of their pipes and faucets during winter. If not, the low temperatures can give rise to many plumbing problems, such as burst frozen pipes.
However, you can avoid these emergencies by taking a few preventive measures. Some are simple, and some might need the help of a plumber in Altona. No matter how and who, you should never forget to winterise your home’s plumbing.
Here are some common plumbing emergencies you may encounter in winter and their preventions.
1. Frosty Pipes
This wouldn’t be a list of winter plumbing problems if we didn’t open with frozen pipes. It’s the most common issue pipes are prone to in winter. If you live in cool climates, you must learn how to prevent pipes from freezing over.
Outdoor pipes especially tend to freeze as they are more exposed to the weather. Thus, they need winterising before the peak winter hits.
- Disconnect hoses and drain water from faucets.
- Turn off the valve on the waterline that serves the spigot.
- Consider upgrading the outside spigots to frost-free hose bibs.
- Insulate the waterlines and hose bibs.
If the worst has already happened and your pipes froze, you should at least try to unfreeze them before they can burst.
- Start by opening the hose bib.
- Insulate the base of the hose bib with towels and rags.
- Now pour boiling water over the towels, warming up the hose bib. Add boiling water as necessary and keep checking if the spigot is trickling water. It’s a sign that the ice is melting slowly.
- You can also use hair dryers and heat guns to warm up.
It’s even bigger a problem if any indoor pipes freeze over. It can be a big mess when it bursts. Generally, pipes in uninsulated areas or that which are along the exterior walls are vulnerable.
You can tell if there are frozen indoor pipes by observing the water flow from sinks and showers. If the water flow is slow or completely blocked, you have a case of frozen indoor pipes.
To avoid it:
- During cold snaps, you can leave faucets on with a small drip. It keeps the water moving and helps alleviate pressure in the lines.
- Add insulation to vulnerable pipelines.
- Leave the cabinets under sinks open to allow heat to circulate.
- Install pressure relief valves to prevent pressure from building up.
In case the pipes have frozen already, you can try fixing them by following these steps.
- After identifying the frozen pipe, find the affected faucets and leave them open.
- Apply heat to the frozen area using hair dryers, space heaters, and heat lamps. You can also use heating pads and electric blankets to wrap the pipe.
- If pipes have broken, turn off the water at the main cutoff valve of the house to prevent flooding and water damage. Then have the pipes repaired or replaced by a 24/7 commercial plumbers service.
2. Overloaded Water Heaters
With houses crowded with visitors over the holidays, water heaters frequently face higher loads throughout the winter. Repairs or replacement may be required if your water heater struggles to meet demand or fails to provide any hot water.
However, before your water heater fails, you can take care of it in the following way.
- A majority of tank water heaters need to be emptied every year. To make sure it is operating properly, test the pressure relief valve.
- Insulate the hot water outlet and water supply inlet pipes.
- For tank water heater models, attach a water heater blanket to prevent energy loss.
Fixing a troubled water heater is also a helpful lesson in winter plumbing care.
- Depending on the sort of water heater you have, check the electrical or gas supply if your water heater isn’t working.
- Consider raising the thermostat if your water heater is having trouble keeping up with the demand for hot water. To prevent scalds and support energy-efficient operation, never exceed 125 degrees.
- Verify the limit switch on the water heater thermostat. It may trip if the water is too hot.
3. Flooded Basement
After a significant snowfall, melting may cause basements to flood as temperatures rise. Poor drains and foundation fractures are typical factors that lead to basement flooding.
Here’s how you can prevent it.
- Gutters should be cleaned, and outdoor drainage systems should be inspected in the autumn. It is to guarantee water securely drains away from the home’s foundation and does not collect throughout the winter.
- Before winter approaches, check the basement and foundation walls for cracks and water leaks and fix them as necessary.
- Maintain and test your sump pump regularly to guarantee its proper operation.
- Installing a backup sump pump is a good idea in case your primary one breaks down or becomes overburdened due to a lot of snowmelt.
- When snow falls, clean it away, leaving a five-foot clearance zone around the foundation. By doing this, meltwater will go away from your house rather than toward it.
- When snow accumulates on the roof, gently remove it to prevent a serious toll on your gutters when the weather gets warmer.
The solution to basement floods is very straightforward. Remove the water and dry the area to avoid moulds later on. Then check for water leaks in the basement and patch the cracks (caulking or hydraulic cement) if you find any.
If you would rather have someone do the necessary winterising for your plumbing, reach out to a professional. You would be better off that way as plumbers understand these things deeply.
NLK Plumbing is Altona’s expert plumber specialising in all kinds of plumbing works. Check out its services and use them if they align with your needs. Be it for residential or commercial plumbers, seek out NLK.