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Drains vs Pipes

Winter time brings its own kind of plumbing problems. One of the most common is frozen pipes! Drains are pipes too and YES your drains can freeze! Whether you own your home or even your own building protecting your drains and pipes can keep you from “these type of plumbing disasters”!  Use these tips and tricks below to assist you!

Homeowner Responsibility

As a homeowner, one of the most important things to know is where your main water shut off is. If you know where this is, then you will be able to help prevent major water damage in situations where pipes burst. Pipes and drains bursting are most commonly the results of a frozen pipe. 

How to Avoid Frozen Drain and Pipes

1. Keep it Moving

A frozen drain is as much of a plumbing emergency as any frozen pipe. To avoid frozen pipes plumbers may tell you to leave water trickling.

2. The Basement

If you have a basement don’t allow the temperature to fall below 50 degrees F. Adding space heaters to areas around your main plumbing is an option.  An oil-filled radiator-type heater is a great option because you can safely leave them on for longer periods of time.

3. Routine Drain Cleaning

Have drains cleared ahead of the cold weather. A drain that is even partially clogged can freeze with a small amount of water in the pipe.  Having your drains professionally cleaned once a year is an important step in preparing them for the cold weather.  A professional plumber can take it a step further and run a video inspection to assure you there are no breaks, cracks or tree roots which will also lead to drain problems.

4. Insulation

Some drains may be more vulnerable to the freezing and therefore adding pipe insulation can be helpful. It is important to note that if you have pipes that enter a crawl space be sure they are insulated well. 

Frozen Pipes with Indy Style

Check out Kelson Carter on Indy Style with WishTV. Kelson talks about all things frozen from common areas in the house to simple hacks that homeowners can do to prevent a freeze. Click here for the Indy Style segment! 

Home Tips & Tricks

  • Know where your main water shutoff is located in case a main water line burst. Having a patch kit on hand can be helpful while you are waiting on the plumber to arrive.
  • Keep your temperature turned up in your home because too low of temp increases chances of frozen pipes and drains.
  • Protect exterior faucets by covering them with insulated foam covers and even turn off the water supply in colder temperatures.
  • Open faucets by allowing the water to flow freely. This can prevent built up pressure.
  • Once pipes have thawed turn off all the water to the faucets and check for leaks.

How to Thaw a Pipe/Drain at Home

For a more simplified freeze. There are a few different things you can try. In the video to the right, you will see Kelson Carter finding that there is no water coming out of the faucet. In the winter, a big cause of this could be a frozen pipe. Kelson will then feel for a freeze in his pipes and then warm up with a mobile space heater. After the pipes have frozen, the water will resume flow. To avoid this happening in a deep freeze, Kelson will demonstrate what an appropriate trickle looks like.

Building Drains Can Freeze Too?

Freeze damage risk in buildings is not confined to water supply piping or hot water heating piping. Building drains can also freeze and break, including fixture traps and building drains.  Building drains can freeze inside the building and even outside.  If the building water supply piping has not frozen a drain line can freeze.  If you notice a toilet or sink just simply stops draining that can be the first sign of a drain freeze.  If there is a slow drip of water running into a drain especially during freezing weather it can cause ice build up in the drain.  This can lead to a burst drain pipe or even water back up into the building.

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