Modern plumbing certainly makes Midwestern winters much more bearable. Freezing their tootsies off or suffering the indignity of using a chamber pot: those were the only options settlers had at their disposal whenever they needed the restroom during the dead of winter.

For all the problems it solves, plumbing does pose its own unique problems during the wintertime. You can prevent many of them yourself if you take care, but some of these winter plumbing problems can only be addressed by a plumber – such as Gilk Plumbing, Heating & A/C. Who serves homeowners and light commercial property managers throughout Stearns County, Minnesota.

It is good to know what you’re up against. Here are the five most common winter plumbing problems and how to avoid them!

1. Frozen Indoor Pipes

Water increases in volume by about 9% when it freezes. This is why pipes may burst or crack if they freeze during winter! Finding the unfortunate flooded basement due to burst pipes is never a pleasant experience. Another common indication that your indoor pipes have frozen and become damaged is reduced water pressure.

Prevent frozen indoor pipes by allowing faucets to drip warm water during extreme cold snaps. Open cabinet doors beneath sinks to let warm air in and insulate any pipes within your house (especially if they are at risk of freezing).

Gilk Plumbing, Heating & A/C offers an excellent solution for frozen indoor or outdoor pipes by Water Jetting! This works by running a high-pressure beam of hot water throughout a frozen pipe or septic line, which quickly eliminates any ice deposits that could obstruct the flow of water or sewage.

2. Frozen Outdoor Pipes

It is common for property owners to overlook just how vulnerable their outdoor pipes are to freezing weather. Hose faucets may be ignored for several months during the winter. If one bursts, the flooding damage can become all the more extensive inside your interior walls.

Prevent frozen outdoor pipes by winterizing hose spigots: turn off the water valves that feed them, open the hose spigot so all the water drains out. And ensure all hoses are removed before the first freeze. You may also upgrade to frost-free hose spigots.

3. Broken Water Line

Winter weather is one of the leading causes of broken water lines – not only because the water inside these pipes freezes and expands. Water lines, which carry freshwater into a home or business, are typically buried 12″ beneath the frost line. In Stearns County, this is located at a depth of 42″, (although the frost line becomes 60″ deep if you go north by one county). When the ground above a water line freezes, swells and becomes heavier, it often exerts enough pressure against the pipe to damage it. Old age and thermal contraction can both make a water line more vulnerable to all that pressure.

Prevent a broken water line by staying on the lookout for signs of imminent failure. These include puddles that have accumulated in your yard, unusual hissing or bubbling sounds emanating from your plumbing, poor water pressure, discolored water, or an inexplicable spike in your water bill. If you notice one or more of these indications that your water line is in distress, hire a plumber to perform a video inspection. They can advise if a replacement is needed.

It is best to be proactive about it than unexpectedly be without water.

4. Water Heater Failures

Your water heater has a harder job during the winter. Hot water usage increases significantly during the wintertime. People love taking hot showers when the weather is miserable. To make matters worse for your water heater, the freshwater feeding it becomes much colder during winter. Unfortunately, this one-two combo means that your water heater is far likelier to fail when you most need it!

Prevent water heater failure by scheduling annual inspections with a plumber. They can perform a water heater inspection on the vital parts of the unit and clear out any sediment at the bottom of the water heater to improve efficiency.

5. Sump Pump Failures

Your sump pump performs the all-important task of preventing your basement from flooding with water. Your sump pump’s job can become even harder during the winter thanks to the sudden onslaught of meltwater penetrating your foundation. Overwhelming influxes of water are one of the most common causes of sump pump failure!

Prevent sump pump failure by keeping its pit free of debris that could clog its pipes, heating your basement to prevent freezing, and installing drainage outside of your foundation will reduce the amount of water infiltration your sump pump has to pump away from the house. Regular testing, inspection, and maintenance are also effective at keeping your sump pump in good working order!

Do you have a winter plumbing problem? Contact Gilk Plumbing, Heating & A/C today for professional plumbing in Albany, Avon, Cold Spring, Eden Valley, Freeport, Kimball, Lake Henry, Paynesville, Richmond, Rockville, St. Joseph, and Watkins, Minnesota.