Expert plumber shares winter plumbing tips

Submitted by David Heffner of Heffner Plumbing

The winter brings with it many challenges related to the weather. Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your plumbing system. The good news is that there are steps that can be taken to prevent plumbing tragedies from ever occurring.

Preventive measures
If your house is on a crawl space, close all of the vents to prevent cold air from entering into the crawl area or install foam board insulation to cover the vents. The same would apply to an older home with a basement where there may be voids that would allow cold air in.

Keep the garage door closed as much as possible if your water heater, water softener, hose bibb, laundry tub or any water lines for interior fixtures are in the wall between the garage and the house.

Run hot and cold water at a trickle for any fixture that has been prone to freezing in the past or is located on an outside wall. Water that is moving through the pipes will not freeze.

Open cabinet doors for the kitchen or bathroom sink to allow warm air in to circulate. Place anything that is in the cabinets that could be a safety hazard out of the reach of small children until water lines have thawed and things are back to normal.

Always shut the water off to the house at the main shut-off valve when leaving for an extended period of time regardless of the time of year. Water lines don't need cold weather to flood a house.

Sump pumps
Check your sump pump for proper operation. Sump pump discharge lines in extreme cold weather conditions have been known to freeze solid where the line exits the house or at the end of the discharge line where it dumps onto the ground.

If this situation occurs and is not fixed immediately, the sump pump will run continuously until it burns up and fails. A battery back-up sump pump will not help in a situation like this unless the back-up system has its own separate discharge line to the outside.

Cutting the PVC pipe where the discharge exits the house or clearing the end of the line are the only immediate remedies when the discharge line for the sump pump freezes up.

This information is advice only and is not intended to replace the judgment and experience of a licensed plumber should actual repairs be necessary.

David Heffner is a licensed plumbing contractor in the state of Indiana and is bonded and insured. Heffner Plumbing is a highly rated company with Angie’s List and has received the Super Service Award every year since 2004. Heffner received the 2009 Contractor of the Year Award by the Greater Indianapolis Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (GIPHCC) and is a complaint free company with the Better Business Bureau.

As of Nov. 11, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

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