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December 2022

5 Common Plumbing Emergencies In Winter and How To Prevent Them

5 Common Plumbing Emergencies In Winter and How To Prevent Them

Freezing temperatures, un-serviced boilers and holiday celebrations are notorious for causing household plumbing emergencies in winter. For plumbing companies, it is common for winter to be the busiest season of the year. Fortunately, some proactive maintenance and knowledge of common plumbing emergencies can help you save money on your appliances.

At Drain Doctor, we are always looking to help our customers save costs on their repairs & replacements. We offer 24 hour plumbing emergency fixes & callouts to address the problem quickly and efficiently before damage takes place to your property. We have put together 5 common plumbing emergencies in winter and how to prevent them in the future to prevent heavy costs this winter.

1)     Frozen Pipes 

Water can freeze in cold conditions. This is a huge problem when it comes to winter plumbing as water freezes in pipes and turns to ice as it expands. As the ice expands, it increases pressure on the pipes and joints, often causing them to spit or pull apart.

How To Prevent

Checking all pipes inside your home and any bare pipes outside are insulated can help save the cold water turning into ice. You can protect your pipes and fittings from freezing by some of the methods below:

  • Insulating all pipes in unheated areas like lofts, roofs, garages etc
  • Fitting your water tank with an insulation jacket
  • Leaving your heating on a low setting especially if your home is empty for a while
  • Turning off your water supply and draining the system if you’re going to be away for a while.

2)     Water Heater Malfunction

A cold shower may be bearable and refreshing in the summer months, but during winter it’s a miserable experience. Water Heater failure is a very common plumbing emergency in the winter because many homeowners aren’t aware that water heaters are designed to perform for 10-12 years on average.

Components such as thermostat, gas control valve, heating coils in electric units and temperature & pressure (T&P) valve commonly fail in the winter. These parts can often be replaced without replacing the water heater itself to save you a big cost in the winter months. There are signs you can look out for however to prevent a emergency plumbing service being required.

How To Prevent 

If your water heater hasn’t been serviced in the last year, schedule an inspection with Drain Doctor. If you know the unit is nearing the end of it’s lifespan, be proactive and schedule a replacement! It could save you hundreds of pounds this winter.

3)     Leaking Water Lines

When it’s freezing outside, old pipes can develop leaks caused by splitting or holes. This is especially true if the pipes aren’t insulated or contain deterioration that hasn’t been detected in the warmer months. This is a serious plumbing emergency that requires immediate attention. The key to avoiding a hefty cost is reacting quickly. Using our 24 hour plumbing emergency line as soon as you detect the problem can help salvage your water lines.

How To Prevent

The best way to avoid winter pipe leaks is to have a comprehensive plumbing inspection before winter. Our plumbers can identify any potential future leaking pipes and perform the appropriate repairs to ensure they remain intact for the winter.

4)     Blocked Drain

In winter around the holidays, drains are often misused and neglected resulting in clogged or blocked drains. A build up of blockages can result in overflowing toilets, bad smells, blocked sinks and ultimately an expensive plumbing emergency.

How To Prevent

To keep your drains rom clogging this winter (and throughout the rest of the year too) use our tips below:

  • Don’t put grease or any type of fat down your sink drains
  • Never flush anything but toilet paper and human waste
  • To prevent solids from accidently flowing into your pipes, install drain traps on all household drains.

5)     Outdoor Drain Damage

During winter months, outdoor drains may freeze, causing damage to the property and your drainage itself. Plastic surface drains are also vulnerable to breaking due to expansion and contraction as temperatures change.

This winter plumbing emergency won’t happen to the pipes that get used frequently because water runs through regularly. Outdoor pipes that don’t get used regularly like at night are at more risk of freezing and blockages however which leads to an expensive emergency plumber call out and fix.

How To Prevent

The best way to prevent this problem would be to add insulation to the walls and around pipes. Fibreglass and foam insulation are great ways to prevent this which can be installed with basic knowledge but best left to our plumbing professionals. Alternatively, you can turn off any outside water by using the shut-off valves while the weather is warmer. This will prevent the pipes from freezing during the winter.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for pipes to thaw naturally?

Fortunately most DIY methods for unfreezing pipes gets the water flowing again in 30-40 mins. But not all will have access to the tools needed. You might be tempted to wait for the pipes to thaw out themselves, but keep in mind depending on the weather, the process can take days.

Will an Emergency Plumber take longer to come to my house in the winter?

Due to the winter season being the busiest time of year for emergency plumbing & drainage, minor delays can be common. A 24 hour plumber will always do their best to get to your property as quickly as possible and fix the problem effectively. At Drain Doctor we are available 24/7 365 days a year for plumbing emergencies.

Can I put boiling water down a frozen pipe?

We strongly advise against putting boiling water down a frozen pipe. Instead use warm water to thaw the frozen pipe, otherwise boiling water can crack the pipe causing leakages.


Need an Emergency Plumber This Winter? Contact Drain Doctor Today

There are many plumbing emergencies that left unchecked, can cause structural damage and an expensive bill this winter. Contact Drain Doctor for a free callout and a local emergency plumber will be with you in no time to diagnose your issue and provide you with a free no-obligation quote. 95% of the time we can fix your winter plumbing problem there and then.