The Importance of Inspecting Your Drains During the Winter

POSTED: December 18, 2019

The plumbing and drainage systems within your home are some of the most critical elements to maintain. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to address common tasks during the winter months. It is therefore rather ironic that these are the very same times when problems are the most likely to occur. There are several issues to highlight here. What causes blocked drains? How will the cold affect the performance of these systems? Why is it important to know how to prevent frozen pipes? What preventative maintenance steps can you take? Knowing how to keep drains clear will involve examining each of these questions. Let us take a look at what the industry professionals have to say.

What Causes Blocked Drains During the Winter?

There are several instances which can lead to a blockage. So, knowing what causes blocked drains is the first step towards preventing a potentially serious problem. One of the most common situations involves a buildup of fats and oils. As these substances will stick to the walls of pipework, it is more difficult for water to properly drain. If left unchecked, the entire pipe may even become completely blocked.

Another drainage issue directly associated with the winter involves leaves, twigs and similar debris. These can easily block the entrances to outdoor drains and once again, this will inevitably lead to a blockage. It should likewise be obvious that extremely low temperatures can cause any standing water within pipes and drains to freeze. It will thereafter be impossible for water and waste to flow through these systems.

A final possible issue can involve the stop valve located underneath your kitchen sink. This valve may corrode on occasion; leading to it failing to open when required. It is, therefore, a good idea to open and close the stop valve once or twice every month in order to ensure that it is functioning properly.

Why Does the Cold Play an Important Role?

Knowing how to unblock drains will also involve a bit of simple physics. Water will normally begin to freeze around the inner circumference of a pipe (as this area is exposed to colder temperatures). As the freezing continues, the diameter of the pipe begins to decrease. There are also times when ice completely blocks the pipe. As water obviously cannot escape, it inevitably backs up into your household drains.

Water is actually quite interesting in the fact that it is one of the only liquids to expand when it freezes (most other substances contract). This is the reason why icebergs float on the top of the ocean as opposed to sinking to the seafloor. Unfortunately, this very same expansion can play havoc with pipework. While it is important to know how to keep drains clear, it is just as essential to note that a frozen blockage can expend to the point when the integrity of the pipe itself becomes compromised. A broken pipe can cause a great deal of damage and repairs may be costly.

How Can You Look After Your Drains?

A handful of good habits can prevent many of the situations mentioned above. For example, keep the tap water running for an additional ten seconds after you have finished washing the dishes. This will help to ensure that any smaller particulate matter is effectively washed down the drain.

Examine all pipes to ensure that they are properly insulated. This will help them to withstand colder temperatures and you can avoid coming home to a messy situation. The good news is that insulation is cheap to purchase and simple to install. Appreciating how to keep drains clear will involve several additional steps including:

  • Checking bath and shower drains for signs of a blockage.
  • Removing any debris found atop outdoor drains.
  • Correcting any taps that drip, as this increases the chances of ice forming.
  • Pouring hot water into kitchen drains to help melt away any fats that may have accumulated.

It is a good idea to set up a routine during the winter months, as you can catch any small issues before they turn into major problems.

Why Consult with an Expert?

Not only does an expert know-how to prevent frozen pipes, but he or she is well aware of the signs that a problem could be present. This will inevitably save you a good deal of time and (potentially) a significant amount of money. This is also when the professionals at Below Ground Solutions will represent invaluable assets at your disposal. Whether you would like to learn more about how to unblock drains or you are in need of a long-overdue inspection, contact us to discuss your needs