Most Common Winter Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them


Old Man Winter is here, and you’re excited about the snow-white landscapes and crisp air he brings to Detroit. But you’re not so excited about the other “treats” he may bring: winter plumbing problems.

Unfortunately, pipes in your home may easily freeze and burst in just 4 to 6 hours in very cold weather – for example, an outdoor temperature of under 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Along with frozen pipes and burst pipes, you may encounter several other home plumbing issues during the colder months. Here’s a rundown on these issues and how to fix them.

Let’s jump in!

Frozen Pipe

As we mentioned earlier, if the weather is cold enough outside, your home’s pipes can quickly freeze. However, you can prevent this issue by wrapping them in insulation.

This is especially important for pipes that are in an uninsulated area. It’s also a wise move if your pipes are on an exterior wall.

Let’s say that your pipes are not insulated enough. Look for unpressurized or gentle water flowing from your sinks or showers. If you see this, your pipes may already be frozen.

In this situation, it’s critical that you shut your water off and contact a plumber to quickly repair your home’s pipes.

To prevent this problem in the future, you should leave your kitchen and bathroom cabinets open when the temperature dips. This will allow your home’s heat to keep the pipes warm so that they are less likely to freeze.

Also, during exceptionally cold periods, leave your faucets on. A tiny drip is all it takes to minimize pressure in your water lines and allow water to keep moving.

You may also want to install a pressure relief valve on each water line to keep pressure from building up in the line. This is important because this pressure can contribute to a pipe leak and break when a freeze occurs.

Burst Pipe

Perhaps you notice that your home’s pipes are frozen but you hesitate to call a plumber. You’ll quickly experience the bigger problem of burst pipes.

Water naturally expands because it’s a liquid. Unfortunately, when the frozen water inside of your frozen pipes expands, this can cause cracks in the pipes. The cracks then lead to bursting, which can cause damage to the home.

A plumber can help you to fix this issue, but the repair will be more extensive than it would have been had you hired a plumber before your frozen pipes burst.

As we mentioned before, keeping your cabinets open during cold weather can help to prevent this problem.

Also, if you discover that a pipe has burst, consider placing a hose clamp made of stainless steel on the pipe. The clamp can help to seal up the busted pipe until a plumbing professional can come and repair your damage.

Leak in Your Water Line

Yet another common winter plumbing problem is a leak in your home’s water line.

Although this issue may happen in any season, the chances of it happening are higher during the winter. The reason for this is that a sudden plummet in the temperature outside will cause your water line to be more vulnerable to splitting.

Higher temps cause water lines to expand, whereas lower temps cause them to contract. Sometimes water lines cannot adjust to sudden temperature changes leading to contracting and expanding. As a result, leaks may develop in your line.

Fortunately, an expert plumber can easily repair this leak for you.

Sump Pump Issues

When winter arrives, your basement sump pump may be used more frequently due to ice and snow that are melting. Unfortunately, your system might end up backing up as a result of related clogs or freezing.

If you experience this winter problem, you’ll need to turn off your unit’s power. Then, inspect the pump’s outlet system outside for obstructions.

If debris, ice, or snow is blocking the exit, remove it. You may have to apply heat in the area to cause the clog to melt. Once the clog is removed, you can restore the pump’s power.

If possible, try to test your pump regularly during the winter season to make sure that it continues to function properly. In addition, keep your basement’s heat on to keep your sump pump’s pipes and pit from freezing.

Frozen Water Hose

Finally, a common winter plumbing problem is a frozen water hose outside your home.

When your water hose becomes frozen, this can cause freezing and build-ups around the hose spigot. Unfortunately, the amount of pressure coming from your hose may end up bursting your pipes.

To avoid this expensive issue, simply put your hose away before the cold weather comes. If you do this, your hose will also be in great condition and ready to use when the warm weather returns.

Also, consider upgrading your outdoor spigot to one with a hose bibb that is frost free. This special component can help to prevent freezing. In addition, when you install it downward, this will allow for water drainage, which will help to prevent water damage.

How We Can Help with Your Plumbing Problems

From frozen pipes to clogged drains, plumbing problems can become massive headaches to deal with during the winter season. Fortunately, a reputable plumber can assess your situation and help you to remedy it quickly and economically.

At WaterWork Plumbing, we take pride in fixing a wide range of plumbing issues. We have performed high-quality plumbing repairs for numerous residents and businesses throughout Metro Detroit.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our plumbing services and schedule a repair today!