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Winter Plumbing Issues | Tips from Your Katy, TX Plumber

Many plumbing issues in Katy, TX make an appearance during the winter months. The climate is generally warm and pleasant, but temperatures can still plunge from November to March. It is a good idea to have a local plumber in mind and keep contact information within easy reach. Being prepared avoids wasted time when a serious problem occurs.

The holiday season is often a very busy time. People travel to visit friends and relatives. Plumbing systems are at risk in cold weather, especially when homes are left unattended during holiday travel. A visit from a plumber before leaving a home unattended for any length of time can prevent potentially expensive problems.

Frozen Pipes

The most common winter plumbing problem in Katy, TX is frozen pipes. Pipes freeze when they are not insulated from cold temperatures. Freezing can occur in any part of a home's plumbing season. Frozen garden hoses are a common cause of burst pipes. A garden hose that is not disconnected during cold temperatures can freeze. The frozen water inside the hose turns to ice and back up into pipes inside the home.

Several precautions can prevent frozen pipes. Keep doors in the house open so heat spread throughout the home. Pipes are often located in basements or under cabinets that may be colder than the rest of the home. Leave cabinet doors open too. Let warm water drip overnight, especially if your home has an outside faucet.

Low water pressure and decreased water flow are the first signs of frozen pipes. A frozen pipe can burst and create water line leaks. Frozen water inside pipes expands and produces more than 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. This is a serious problem that may cause structural damage and shorts in a home's electrical systems.

Turn off water at its source and call a professional plumber immediately after a pipe burst. Run every faucet in the home, including those in a basement or outside the house, and flush the toilet several times to drain water from the system and minimize damage until repairs are completed.

Septic Systems

Septic systems are also at risk of freezing. Leaks in a home's septic system are one of the most unpleasant and damaging problems homeowners experience. Snow on the ground actually provides insulation. Cold temperatures with very little snow cover in Katy, TX put septic systems at risk of freezing.

Septic systems with pipes above the frost line are at highest risk. An 8-12-inch layer of mulch over the septic tank and pipes can offer some insulation. It’s too late to add mulch once cold temperatures arrive. It just makes the situation worse when the ground is already frozen. Consult a plumber if you are not certain that your home's septic system is properly insulated.

Leaking septic tanks with hydraulic failures greatly increase the risk of freezing and causing even more problems. Fluid that leaks from the tank or pipes freezes in the ground around the system. The frozen moisture puts pressure on the system and blocks leech beds and treatment soil from doing their jobs as well.

Call a plumber immediately if you suspect ice is present in the ground around your septic system because it can cause a great deal of damage to the entire system. Letting the problem go too long often results in expensive repairs.

Water continuously running into a septic system increases the chances of freezing. The water could come from a leaking faucet or condensation formed from a furnace. Septic lines that are not at the right pitch are more susceptible to freezing because water sits in the line.

The first sign of a frozen septic system is a toilet that does not flush correctly. The sinks, bathtubs, and laundry drains in the house will eventually back up too because there is nowhere for the water to go. Ice in the septic pipes blocks water from reaching the tank.

Try to use as little water as possible if you think your septic system is freezing. Take short showers and run dishwashers on full loads. Call a plumber to figure out how to fix the problem. There is almost nothing a homeowner can do to fix a frozen septic system, but professional plumbers have special equipment and the training to deal with it.

Hot Water Heaters

Water heaters in Katy, TX have a tendency to fail during months with the coldest temperatures. The cold does not damage water heaters, but increased use during cold weather can push existing problems over the edge.

Water heaters installed more than 10 years ago have the highest risk of failure. Check the temperature setting on a hot water heater first if water does not seem to be warm enough. Pilot lights may go out for natural gas heaters

Failing water heaters make strange sounds, such as gurgling or bubbling noises. The best time to notice these sounds is while someone is taking a hot shower or the washing machine is running on hot.

Muddy water is another important sign. An aging hot water heater starts to rust, and the rust eventually flakes off into the water. A plumber can drain and flush the water heater to clear sediment and minerals and possibly identify underlying problem.

Older water heaters can pose more serious problems than simply taking a cold shower. They can release carbon monoxide into the home. Every home in Katy, TX should have a carbon monoxide alarm, and hot water heaters in poor repair need immediate attention.

If there are no obvious problems, call a plumber. Consult Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to inspect hot water heaters that are over 10 years old so a sudden lack of hot water does not come as a surprise.