Frozen Pipes: Everything You Need To Know

Your pipes are like the arteries of your home; they help transport everything exactly where they need to go. If something were to happen to those arteries, such as frozen pipes, for instance, then that would shake the entire foundation of your home.

Winter is just around the corner, which means it’s time to refresh yourself on the best seasonal practices to take care of your home. With the ever-frigid temperatures this season, your pipes will be at risk of freezing, and that could be disastrous for a home. Keep reading to learn how to protect your home and prevent frozen pipes. 

The Risks

You probably hear about frozen pipes all the time, but what’s actually so horrible about them? Besides just the headache of having to fix something in the house, they pose a serious threat to you and your family’s safety. If your pipes freeze, the water inside them will, as well, and the water will start to expand. The enormous amount of pressure created inside your pipes almost guarantees a burst or rupture. If it gets to that point, it’ll cost you somewhere in the thousands of dollars to repair the pipe itself and all the havoc it wreaks. If left untreated, your house could suffer from serious flooding and could put residents’ health at risk.

Preventative Measures

So you want to be proactive; where should you start? Our number one recommended tip is to have a professional install pipe insulation. It’s a cheap (especially compared to repairing a burst pipe) yet effective solution to ward off frozen pipes — insulation traps heat and keeps your pipes warm at all times. Pay extra attention to pipes in unheated areas of your house like your garage or attic. Aside from that, we suggest setting your thermostat to a warm, consistent temperature throughout the winter and letting your faucets drip when you’re not home.

Emergency Solutions

Uh oh, you just discovered you have a frozen pipe. Should you panic? No, panicking will not help and disaster can still be prevented! The situation may be less than ideal, but only a cool head will see you through it all. You can obviously tell if your pipes are frozen if there’s little to no running water when you turn on the faucet, but also look out for frost forming on your pipes or strange odors as other telltale signs. To alleviate the pressure built up in your pipes, turn off all running water immediately and find a way to heat the pipe up. Plug in a space heater or hairdryer, wrap the pipe in newspaper and duct tape it to serve as emergency insulation — anything you could possibly do. 

If you’re ever unsure of how to respond to frozen pipes, it never hurts to call an expert. The drain specialists at All County Sewer and Drain will do anything we can to help you in your time of need. Contact us today!

Unfreezing The Drains In The Winter

As we are deep into the winter season, it is important to understand that your household drains are susceptible to freezing and thus making it difficult to unclog them while using traditional drain cleaning methods. You might be asking, which drains are at risk of freezing? The answer to this question would be drains that are more exposed to the elements, or ones that are along the outside walls of exposed basement walls. A few examples of these drains would be downspout discharge drains, shallow sewer lines, and shallow drains.

How To Prevent Freezing Drains

Now, it is important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the freezing temperatures will not affect your drains. However, the following solutions can help to prevent a drain block:

  1. First, you should cover your pipes with insulation sleeves
  2. Insulate any unfinished basements or other areas where the pipes and drains are exposed to colder temperatures
  3. Turn up the heat in any area where your pipes and drains are exposed
  4. Be sure to carefully pour hot water down any used household drains that are used infrequently
  5. Make sure you remove any debris from the outdoor drains and keep them clear throughout the winter months.

What Happens If Your Drain Becomes Frozen

When it comes to clearing frozen drains and pipes, here are a few DIY approaches you might want to consider. First, if it is an outdoor drain, using hot saltwater or just hot water along with a deicing agent can help to clear a line, however, be prepared for some water to back up towards you until you have cleared the block. For indoor pipes, they may respond by exposing them to the heat from a hair dryer. You will want to be cautious not to expose the pipes to heat for too long as it can cause more damage. Now, while using the DIY approach might work, you might want to contact a drain cleaning professional like All County Sewer & Drain for safety reasons. All County Sewer & Drain uses their drain cleaning cameras to get deep into the drain and see exactly where an issue is. Doing so allows them to know exactly where they need to work and save you time and money.

So, if you happen to notice that your drain is freezing up or it already has become frozen and you are in need of professional assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to All County Sewer & Drain today at (800) 834-3102!

How to Fix Toilet Problems

The most common toilet problems are often easily fixable requiring only some cleaning or the replacement of a part.  If you cannot figure out the issue on your own, it requires a professional plumber to assess the toilet, make repairs, and sometimes, install a new toilet.  Below are three common toilet problems that you can often fix yourself.

Weak Flush

One common toilet problem is the weak flush and most often occurs when minerals such as calcium and lime build up on the rim feed and jet holes of the toilet bowl.  The way to fix this weak flush is to clean the rim feed and jet holes and once doing so, you’ll regain your toilet’s strong flush. To do this, turn the water supply valve off and hold the flapper open.  Then, let most of the water fall out of the tank.

Use a toilet bowl cleaner to pour 1-2 cups of cleaning solution down the valve.  Stick a wire hanger into the valve and scrape back and forth to break away any hard build up.  Then, turn the water supply on and let the tank refill.  This effort will remove the buildup and create a stronger toilet flush.

Running Toilet

A running toilet can cost you hundreds of dollars per year in wasted water.  Running toilets are often a simple fix and are brought on by a faulty fill valve or flush valve in your toilet’s water tank.  The first step is to clean the fill valve to wash away any debris that might be causing your running toilet.   To clean the fill valve, first turn off the water and flush your toilet.  Reach into your tank with your right hand and lift the float cup.

Grip the gray shaft and hold it in this position for now.  With your left-hand, grab onto the cap and place your thumb on the side of the plastic arm. Twist the cap and plastic arm counterclockwise 1/8th of a turn and press down on the cap while making this twisting motion.  Lift up on the cap and move it away from the top of the valve.   Then, turn the water on full force for 10-15 seconds, which will clean the debris in the valve.  Make sure to place a cup above the valve, covering the valve and protecting yourself from spraying water everywhere.  Finally, reverse the steps to put the top back on the valve.  Turn on the water and flush the toilet to make sure the problem is resolved.  If cleaning the fill valve doesn’t work to stop your running toilet, you’ll need to replace the fill valve first.  If you still have a running toilet, then replace the flush valve as well.

Leaking Toilet

Another toilet issue commonly seen is a leaking toilet, where water leaks from underneath the toilet.  If you see small puddles below your toilet, the problem is likely either that the tee bolts are loose or the wax seal is damaged below the toilet.  For starters, re-position the toilet and tighten the tee bolts.  If they’re lose and you tightened them, wait to see if your toilet bowl still leaks.  If not, the problem is fixed.  If the leak continues, you’ll have to now replace the wax seal beneath the toilet.  First, go to the hardware store and purchase yourself a new wax wing.  Then, prep the toilet by shutting off the water.  Flush the toilet twice to remove as much sitting water as possible.  To remove leftover water, unscrew the nut holding the fill valve and catch the excess water with a small bucket.

Next remove the toilet by unscrewing the water supply line and the tee bolts from the floor.  Move the toilet over or set it down gently on its side revealing the old wax ring.  Begin removing the wax ring.  Next, install the new wax ring placing it over the flange while the tee bolts are secured in their place.  Then re-position the toilet back to its usual position.  Reinstall your toilet by screwing the tee bolts in place but do not over tighten them.  Keep in mind the toilet must be leveled and centered properly.  Then reconnect your waterline, turn the valve back on, and flush.  Here, closely inspect your toilet to make sure no water leaks from the new seal.

Conclusion

Toilet problems can cause mold to grow, increase your water bill, and damage both the floor and the ceilings of your house.  It’s best to get these issues fixed right away.  If you need help assessing and fixing toilet clogs and back-up, we can handle all your needs at All County Sewer and Drain.  Give us a call at (800) 834-3102.