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How to Protect Your Plumbing System in Winter

  • 15th December 2021
  • posted in: Advice

When the weather starts to get colder, plumbing systems can become susceptible to harsh temperatures and problems may arise. It can be a nasty surprise to have these issues suddenly hit you in the dead of winter. Here are some potential problems you may face and what you can do to fix or prevent them.

Frozen Pipes

One of the most common issues, water in pipes can freeze during winter. They are especially vulnerable if the pipes are exposed or outside. But they can freeze inside too if they aren’t insulated properly.

The expanding frozen water in the pipes could lead to a burst pipe if nothing is done to address the problem, and then you’ll have an even bigger, costlier problem on your hands. If a burst pipe is neglected, your property could become water damaged and create the spread of mould.

Signs of Burst or Frozen Pipes

It’s not always obvious when a pipe has burst but there are signs. Look for changes in water pressure or discoloration of the water, listen out for clanging noises and keep an eye out for unusually high water bills. There may be puddles too that you don’t realise are leaks straight away.

The quicker you address this problem, the lower the amount of damage and cost to repair. But if you suspect the worst has already happened and a pipe has burst, start that search for emergency plumbers near me.

Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Keep Water Flowing

One way to prevent pipes from freezing is to keep water running regularly. This doesn’t mean running water all the time, it just means making sure that no tap is left untouched for long periods of time.

It’s harder for water to freeze if you keep it moving, so just run your water for a short while every so often and it could prevent this problem.

However, depending on the way you pay for your water, for example if you’re on a meter, this may not be the best method and could lead to higher water bills. So, track your usage to make sure if this method is right for you.

Keep Your House Warm

Another alternative method is to keep your home warm. It doesn’t have to be too hot, 5-10 degrees Celsius should be enough. Let the warm air circulate through the house by keeping inner doors open.

You’ll probably want your heating on throughout the Winter anyway, but if you are out a lot or go on holiday, you can keep the heating running at this relatively low temperature while you’re away to prevent the problem. It might sound wasteful to keep the heating on just for the pipes, but it can be cheaper than the repair damage caused by a burst pipe.

Insulating Pipes

This is another technique you can try. Most DIY stores stock insulation material which you can quite easily wrap around pipes by yourself.

The extra layer of insulation will keep in some of the heat, making frozen pipes less likely to happen. This is especially important for outside pipes or pipes in colder areas like the loft. A professional can also do this for you.

Clogged Drains

It’s not just water that can freeze in the pipes, the small amounts of liquids like soap or cooking substances that we pour down the sink can build up over time, this can then harden and freeze or combine with frozen water.

Of course, it can be hard to see into your pipes and identify if this is the problem you are facing. One option is to try pouring boiling water down the drains and attempt to thaw and unclog the problem yourself.

If this still doesn’t work, fire up the search bar for plumbers near me and let a professional take a look.

What Plumbers and Drainage Experts Can Do for You in Winter

While there are various things you may be able to do yourself to help your plumbing and heating system, some circumstances require an expert. If you look up plumbing services near me, you should be able to find a local company or plumber that has a list of services that they provide.

A plumber can work on the radiators and pipework aspects of your heating system, but they cannot work on boilers or gas pipes, so for those you’ll need a heating engineer who will have gas safe qualifications.

Radiators

If you find your radiator heating isn’t even, there are usually two causes; a build up of sludge (a mixture of dirt and rust) or trapped pockets of air that are preventing the hot water from flowing properly.

If your radiator is cold at the bottom, you might have a sludge problem. If it’s cold at the top, the problem is more likely to be air.

If trapped pockets of air are the problem, you can perform a radiator bleed by yourself by turning off the heating (so you don’t burn yourself with hot water) and then twisting the radiator valve with your key to loosen it and let the trapped air out, this should make a hissing noise. You can also put a cloth down as some water may leak out too.

However, if the problem is sludge, you’ll need a certified professional to perform a power flush. Chemically treated water will be flushed around the system at a high pressure to clean out the sludge.

Drains

Drainage experts can use techniques such as CCTV drain inspections to properly identify any problems with your drains, the live camera feed lowered into the pipes will identify frozen water or other liquids causing a blockage. They can then use high power jet sprays to clear the blockage or determine other suitable methods. If you suspect a drain blockage, this is an ideal way to quickly prevent further problems.

Here to Help

Problems in Winter are common after heating systems are left lying dormant during the warmer months.

You can always perform a trial of your heating system by turning it on earlier than you usually would, just for a day or two. This might allow you to see if any issues arise before it gets too cold and you’re stuck at a time where you rely on it the most.

But if the unexpected happens, Able Group operates 24/7 and provides emergency plumbing nationwide.

Our plumbers can help you with repairs or installations for kitchen, bathroom, and outdoor plumbing. Installations include taps, showers, and appliances like dishwashers. We can also repair or install an immersion heater which you can use for either your main source of warmth or as a backup.

We specialise in 7 different trades, including plumbing, drainage experts and gas and heating engineers, covering every base to keep you warm this Winter. So if you run into any of the issues above and need expert advice, contact us today via this page.

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