Protecting your pipes in winter
Cold weather brings with it many challenges for the business or home owner. How to keep walkways free of ice, how to prevent pipes from freezing and dealing with clogged drains to name just a few. Plumbing systems in particular can be significantly impacted by extreme cold weather so keeping an eye on them during the winter is advisable. Knowing what to look for as well as what you might need to prevent any problems, should help you to keep your drains and pipes working as well as they should be.
Plumbing vent pipes might experience problems, especially if more than one drain is blocked simultaneously. Vent pipes connect to multiple fixtures and appliances around the property and they are also responsible for removing unpleasant gases from sewer pipes. If they become icy, the ice might clog part of the vent pipe, making any drains to these pipes act like they are also blocked. Any slow drainage should be checked out straight away.
Drainpipes can become clogged at any time, not just in the winter. An accumulation over the year of soap scum and hair could begin to cause problems in winter if these partial blockages freeze. Many homeowners mistakenly wash grease or oil down the plug and this can cause problems at any time but in winter, especially, the oil can harden and stiffen inside the pipe. This leads to an increased risk of a winter blockage happening.
Tips for thawing a frozen pipe are important to follow so as to not make the problem worse. It is essential that a bare flame, such as that from a lighter or blowtorch, is never used against a pipe in an attempt to thaw it out. This could result in the pipe splitting as a result of extreme fluctuations in temperature. Safer methods include using a hairdryer on a low setting or wrapping the pipes in towels soaked with warm water. Damaged pipes can be fixed using relining methods. For information on Drain Lining Surveys, consider Drain lining surveys through Wilkinson Environmental.
When frozen pipes and clogs have occurred, it’s important to deal with the issue quickly and prevent it from happening again. If a pipe freezes and then is thawed out repeatedly, it can weaken the pipe making it more susceptible to cracking or splitting. In the area where you’ve had problems before, try to increase the temperature. Perhaps improved insulation in areas like basements and lofts will help prevent pipes there from freezing in the future.
Other things to remember to ease the pressure on pipes in winter is never to flush anything down drains or toilets that should not be flushed. This can include cleaning wipes, sanitary towels, nappies, oil, grease or basically anything other than water and toilet paper. When using oil to cook with, always collect the waste in a container to dispose of separately and don’t be tempted to wash it down the drain. To prevent a build up of hair clogging pipes, consider installing a hair catching device to sit on the plughole of the bath or shower.