DIY Tips From the Warner Service Blog

How Cold Weather Can Cause Plumbing Problems

Posted by Warner Service on Feb 9, 2018 9:00:00 AM


According to the state government’s website, the average winter temperature for Maryland is slightly above freezing at 34.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The state averages 20.6 inches in snowfall annually, only slightly less than the national average at 28.2 inches.

Due to these harsh conditions, plumbing problems can arise in homes across Maryland. Check out the climate breakdown from Warner Service in Frederick:

How Winter Creates Plumbing Catastrophes

Did you know that your home’s water line can leak or break due to frozen water? Below-freezing temperatures cause water to freeze mid-flow through your home’s pipes, leading to a burst pipe or leaking water line.

Also, septic tanks are more likely to burst when the dirt is frozen and snow is on the ground.

Not to mention, if you live in a location with hard water, sediment buildup in the water heater tank causes rust to develop. This rust is much harder to get rid of during the winter, leaving you and your family with contaminated drinking, bathing, and cooking water for months.

These plumbing problems are a direct cause of winter’s harsh conditions. Sudden temperature drops, snowfall, hail, and other weather-related circumstances leave your home’s plumbing anatomy in a tough position to work optimally.  

What You Can Do

Despite Mother Nature’s forceful and inevitable winter in Maryland, you can prevent these plumbing problems with the following precautionary measures from the experts at Warner Service in Frederick:

  • Lower the temperature of your water heater. When the water heater is first installed, professionals turn its temperature to around 170 degrees Fahrenheit just in case.

    However, many homes don’t require that much steam and pressure. This winter, turn down the water heater between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent a burst or leak (and reduce heating costs between 6 to 10 percent).

    Tip: To be more environmentally friendly, contact an expert during the warmer months about installing a tankless water heater or going solar.

  • Insulate your home’s pipes. After doing this, you pay less for hot water, and it’s less likely that the pipes will freeze. During the insulation process, look in the basement, crawl spaces, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom counters for unheated water supply lines. Both hot and cold lines in these areas should be insulated to maintain higher temperatures.

  • Drain water from the swimming pool. If you have a swimming pool, drain the water and the sprinkler supply lines by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Open and disconnect the outdoor hose bibs and allow the water to drain completely. Once completed, close the indoor valves and keep the outdoor valve open, so the pipe expands without bursting. Store the hose in the garage or backyard shed for a few months.

  • Install pipe sleeves, heat tape, or a heat cable for prevention. To save money, use newspaper to keep the insulator dry.

  • Keep the garage door closed as often as possible, if supply lines are present in or around the area.

  • Remove harmful household chemicals and cleaning products from under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. After that, open those cabinets to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing underneath the counters.

  • Let the water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes when the weather is unbearably cold.

  • Turn off the water supply to your home to reduce pressure in your home’s plumbing anatomy.

  • Call a plumbing professional to relocate any outdoor pipes to provide less exposure to the harsh winter elements.

For more information on how to maintain your home drainage and avoid plumbing catastrophes this winter, download our Plumbing Maintenance Checklist by clicking on the button below:

Download Our Plumbing Maintenance Checklist

Topics: Do-It-Yourself, Plumbing, Maintenance