3 Ways Winter Can Challenge Your Plumbing

plumbing in winter


Plumbing is more vulnerable during the wintertime. If you live in the greater Sioux Falls, SD area, you can save a lot of trouble and expense if you remain aware of the challenges your plumbing faces when the temperatures start to drop. Here’s what you should know if you want to do everything you can to avoid hiring a plumber this winter!


Winter Weather Can Freeze Your Pipes

Outdoor pipes are guaranteed to freeze during the winter. Whether they become damaged or not as the result depends entirely on whether they contain water. That is why it is so crucial to winterize outdoor water lines during the fall.

Indoor pipes aren’t as vulnerable to cold weather, but they are still at significant risk. If you anticipate exceptionally frigid weather, allow your indoor faucets to drip. That will keep the water inside your plumbing moving, in which state it is less likely to freeze solid and start bursting pipes. You may also open the doors to cabinets beneath sinks, which will increase the plumbing’s exposure to heat. Because they are especially at risk, pipes beneath walls in unheated spaces (such as the garage) should be insulated. If you do discover that your pipes have frozen, attempt to thaw them as quickly as possible to prevent extensive damage!


Winter Weather Can Strain Your Water Heater

If you have followed the Environmental Protection Agency’s advice, then you have set your home’s water heater to a temperature of 120 °F. Naturally, your water heater will have to work harder to maintain its set temperature when the air surrounding it becomes colder. Your water heater’s job becomes even more challenging during winter because your home’s residents probably aren’t going out as often – demand for hot water increases accordingly.

Any water heater requires regular maintenance in order to function reliably. Annual draining is recommended, as is testing the unit’s pressure relief valve. Insulating your water heater’s inlet and outlet pipes will protect against freezing in addition to helping the unit operate more efficiently. Insulating the water heater itself is also advisable. Wrapping the unit in a special blanket can reduce heat loss by up to 45%, as well as save you up to 16% in water heating costs. Finally, if your water heater is located in your garage, keep the garage door closed as often as possible.


Winter Weather Can Clog Your Drains

Winter is when we tend to cook greasier foods. Despite our best efforts, at least some of that grease is bound to go down the kitchen sink’s drain. To make matters worse, greasy substances will solidify faster inside of cold pipes. No matter the season, take every due caution to avoid pouring grease and oil down the sink. Fatty waste should always go into an empty jar and be thrown away. When you run your garbage disposal, take care only to use cold water, as hot water actually helps fats congeal faster. Periodically clean your garbage disposal by running ice through it. 

Taking a hot shower is a popular way to warm up during winter. Unfortunately, that only means more hair and soap scum are bound to collect inside the shower drain. Consider installing an inexpensive mesh drain guard. It will collect hair before it becomes lodged in your plumbing, and cleaning it is as easy as tapping it over your garbage can.


Sometimes all the precaution in the world can’t prevent a plumbing issue. Whether freezing weather has burst your pipes and destroyed your entire plumbing system – or your shower drain always backs up until you’re ankle-deep in water – we welcome you to contact PrairieSons today. We’re the greater Sioux Falls, SD area’s complete solution for all plumbing problems, and we’re equally prepared to serve all your HVAC needs as well!