Minnesota winters can become frigid at times. Although many welcome extended sub-freezing temperatures for ice skating and other winter sports activities, the combination of water and temperatures that dip to below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and lower can wreak havoc on your plumbing system, especially your pipes.

With the time people spend inside their homes, water use frequently increases during the coldest months of the year, putting an extra loan on pipes, drains and water heaters. Although you may be unable to prevent all winter plumbing problems, acting proactively and performing simple maintenance will help reduce them. When serious problems occur, call Affinity Plumbing and Water Conditioning for emergency service. Consider these common cold weather plumbing problems and tips to prevent them.

1. Frozen Outdoor Pipes

Water lines that don’t go inside your home typically go unused during winter months. If you don’t properly winterize them, they can result in burst pipes and may even affect your indoor plumbing. Winterize your outdoor lines by disconnecting hoses, draining water, and storing them inside. Turn off the valve that services the spit and let the water drain to alleviate pressure that may occur if the pipes freeze. An insulating cover can protect the hose bib in winter.

Another preventive solution involves having one of our plumbers upgrade your outdoor spigots to frost-free hose bibs. These devices help prevent freezing as we install them at a downward angle to allow drainage. You can also have a plumber add insulation to outdoor water lines. If you have a landscape sprinkler system, check the owner’s manual and follow its recommended procedure to winter-proof the sprinkler pipes and protect them from freezing.

2. Frozen Indoor Pipes

Water supply lines in your home in unheated areas and near exterior walls are especially prone to freezing. Water expands as it freezes, leading to leaks and even burst pipes. To prevent pipes in attics, basements, or garages from bursting, consider insulating them. You can also have us install pressure relief valves on water lines to help avoid the buildup that contributes to pipe leaks when freezes occur.

Pipes that have started to freeze will have a light flow of water. When blocked, there will be no flow at all. When you expect that pipes may freeze, leave faucets on at a tiny drip to keep water moving. Also, leave cabinets under sinks open to allow warm air to circulate.

3. Sump Pump Damage

Two situations can lead to sump pump problems during colder months. If snow or ice blocks the sump pump outlet, water won’t be able to drain, leading to flooding in your basement. Make sure that fallen snow or a frozen pipe doesn’t block the outlet. Clear away snow from the area around the outlet and use a hose with a bigger diameter to prevent ice clogs and water from backing up into your basement.

Another problem involves melting snow. Some sump pumps, especially older ones, can become overloaded and stop working during heavy snow melt. Consider having one of our experienced plumbers install a backup pump or a new one if your current one has seen many years. Test your sump pump throughout the winter to ensure it still functions properly. Additionally, ensure that the sump pump pit is clear of debris and grime that could result in blockages well before cold weather sets in. Keep the heat on in the basement to prevent the pump itself and the pit from freezing.

4. Failing Water Heaters

Water heaters are another appliance that experiences heavier than normal use in cold weather. Repairs may be necessary if your heater struggles to keep up with demand or fails to produce hot water. Preventive maintenance, including draining the tank annually to remove sediment build-up and testing the pressure relief valve, can help ensure proper functioning. Insulating hot water outlet pipes running out of your water heat can help retain heat as water travels to fixtures. Installing a water heater blanket can protect against energy loss in tank models.

If your water heater does not work, check the electrical power or gas supply, along with the thermostat limit switch, which can trip if the water is too hot. If you cannot find the source of the problem, call a plumber to inspect the system and recommend repair or replacement.

Rely on Our Plumbers to Remedy Winter Woes

Winter water woes require the experience of a professional plumber to fix them properly. Contact Affinity Plumbing and Water Conditioning for comprehensive services in Shakopee, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Burnsville, Lakeville and surrounding areas.

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