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Spring Plumbing Issues – How to Prevent them from Occurring

Spring plumbing issues occur when there is a change in seasons from winter to spring.  As temperatures warm, pipes thaw and can expose cracks from the cold winter months; tubs and sinks accumulate debris from increased winter usage, clogging pipes; melting snow and harsh spring weather lead to both interior and exterior flooding that leaves homes vulnerable to water damage, mold, and foundational cracks.  There are simple things you can do as a homeowner to prevent these issues from occurring and rectify them once they do occur.

Cracked Pipes

Spring plumbing issues occur when cold winter months cause pipes to crack or break.  You can perform a visual inspection of pipes to inspect for cracks, gaps, breaks, or leaks, but if a crack or break is in an area of piping concealed by a wall or flooring, you will need to evaluate other signs of a cracked pipe.  Some potential indicators of a cracked or broken pipe are visible signs of water damage and low water pressure.  If water is leaking into your plumbing system, a good amount of water will not be able to reach your faucets and you will experience poor water pressure.  However, poor water pressure does not automatically mean that you have a leak.  Poor water pressure can also be caused by old pipes that do not comply with modern building codes, rusty pipes, or pipes clogged with debris.  An easy way to determine whether you have a leaking pipe is by using a leak detector.  A leak detector will alert you to a leaking pipe and identify the location of the leak.

Another spring cracked pipe culprit that can cause a lot of damage is a burst bib pipe in your outside faucet.  A frozen outside faucet pipe can go unnoticed all winter if the spigot is not turned on because the faucet washer prevents water from flowing out of the crack in the pipe.  In the spring, when you once again turn on your faucet, a good amount of water will flood out the crack in your wall.  If you discover a leak in your outside faucet, quickly close the shut-off valve to prevent more water from escaping through the crack.  Then, soak up as much water from the affected area as possible, and call an experienced plumber and water damage mitigation expert.  In the future, before cold weather hits, disconnect your garden hose from the outside faucet and winterize your outdoor faucet pipe by turning off the water line and draining the pipe.  Consider purchasing a frost-proof outdoor faucet.

Clogged Pipes

Bathtubs and sinks see increased use in the winter, which often results in clogs.  If your sink or tub is not draining, it could be clogged with hair, fur, drain clogging ingredients like scrubbing beads, oils, and bath bombs received as Christmas presents or a host of other drain clogging culprits.  Most clogged sink and tub drains can be easily cleared by manually removing the debris with tools or clearing the pipe with a plunger.  To clear a clog with tools, you can either use a pair of needle-nose pliers or purchase special plumbing tools, like a Zip-it.  If a plunger is your drain clearing method of choice, make sure your sink overflow is covered before plunging.  Otherwise, your plunging efforts will have no effect.

Spring Flooding

Spring plumbing issues occur when melting snow displaces a lot of water and lead it to your basement, crawlspace, or foundation.  Sometimes, flooding is obvious, but often it is less noticeable.  Frequent, small amounts of water can gradually erode your foundation and create costly repair.  Without proper care and attention, a dry basement can deteriorate.  Signs of basement flooding include:

  • Water stains on the walls or floor could be caused by water seeping in through the basement windows, walls, or floor.  If you have water stains on your walls or floor, check for points of entry- water travels to the lowest point, so the point of entry could be across the room.
  • Excess moisture in the basement or crawlspace causes an unmistakable musty odor.
  • If your family is frequently sick, check for signs of mold.
  • A white or light gray ring marking the edges of evaporated pools of water is called ‘efflorescence,’ and is an indicator that water is intruding upon your home.
  • Water intrusion can create spalling, which is a flaking away of concrete, brick, or stone by salt deposits carried in water.
  • Wet floors can be a result of groundwater seepage emerging through your foundation.
  • Buckling windows and flaking paint both indicate water entering through the seals of windows.
  • Rust is an obvious moisture indicator.
  • Concentrated dark spots at the base of concrete block walls can indicate water pooling.

If water is leaking into your basement or crawlspace and is obviously pooling, you can use a sump pump to pump the water away from the foundation of your property.

Spring plumbing issues can occur if water is pooling outside your house and your gutters are clogged.  In the spring, heavy leaf debris falls into gutters and can cause clogs.  Combine clogged gutters with heavy spring rain and your yard will flood.  Flooding around your house can weaken your foundation.  Be sure to clean your gutters at least once a year- twice if you have overhanging trees, and also after big storms.  Use tools to ensure your gutters are thoroughly cleaned and emptied.  Available tools include gutter scoops, hoses, and air-pressure cleaners. Clear all downspouts as well as the gutters themselves.  If you don’t clean your downspouts, rotten leaves will accumulate and cause water to leak into your home’s walls.  The best way to clear downspouts it by hiring an experienced plumber to “jet” them, using a high-pressure hydro-jet.  Use caution when cleaning your gutters: if you require the use of a ladder, use it properly and cautiously; wear rubber shoes when walking on your roof; if you’re cleaning near a power line, DO NOT use a metal ladder.  After your gutters are clear, flush your gutters and downspouts with a garden hose (this is also a great way to spot leaks in your gutters).  You can prevent gutter clogs by installing gutter covers, but they can be prohibitively expensive.

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