Spring means longer days, blooming flowers, and the sound of birds chirping. The long winter is over, and you’re looking forward to thinking about picnics, walks, and relaxing outdoors.
But, you should be thinking about your home’s plumbing system.
Yes, unfortunately, the melting snow often reveals a raft of plumbing problems that you might not have noticed throughout the winter. All homeowners should be aware of these common spring plumbing problems, and what to do about them.
Read to learn everything Edmonton residents need to know about plumbing problems in spring, along with how you can prevent them from happening.
Why Are Spring Plumbing Problems Common?
Residents of Edmonton are used to snowfall. With the city accumulating up to 123.6cm of snow throughout the winter, it can be a long and cold time of year. But, have you thought how this snowfall can affect your plumbing?
Once spring comes around, any snow still on the ground or in piles quickly melts, and it often melts fast. This influx of water can cause flooding or damage to homes, especially older homes.
The warming temperatures of spring, once the snow has melted, will reveal problems you might not have noticed over the winter months, like damage to sump pumps or hose bibs. Winter can cause pipes to freeze, leading to all sorts of problems, such as leaks, backed-up sinks, and cracked pipes.
To best look after your property, it’s helpful to know what to look out for when it comes to your home’s plumbing systems. The changing seasons are the perfect time to do an overall plumbing and systems check on your home to make sure it’s in great shape for the months ahead.
Here are some of the most common spring plumbing problems seen in Edmonton.
Low Water Pressure
You go to take a shower and barely get enough water pressure to rinse your hair. Or, you turn the sink faucet on all the way to do dishes, but you’re not getting a powerful flow. In these cases, low water pressure might be the issue.
If your pipes got too cold over the winter and cracked, this could also be a cause of the low-pressure problem, although hopefully, you caught it right away because it would have been leaking. Low pressure could also be caused by clogged pipes, with debris gunk trapped inside.
Your kitchen faucet may have an aerator, which reduces the flow of water while keeping its pressure. Sometimes, mineral deposits can build up in the aerator, causing weak kitchen faucet flow.
Since there can be many causes for low water pressure in the home, it’s worth contacting a professional plumber in Edmonton to get specific advice for your situation.
Problems with home gutters can be one of the most common plumbing problems. Clogged gutters and downspouts can do serious damage to your property, to both your home’s foundation and to the garden landscaping below. If not looked after, they can cause mold, lead to cracks in concrete or glass. They can even cause basement or garage flooding if drainage is blocked and water has nowhere to go.
Falling leaves and debris in autumn and winter can quickly block your home’s gutters. You can help prevent this by cleaning gutters regularly, trimming tall trees and hedges so any plant debris doesn't fall into the gutters, and regularly inspecting your drains to see if they are clear of blockages and the water is running freely through them.
Any gutter cleaning should be done with extreme caution, or leave it to a professional service.
Leaky And Cracked Pipes
In the cold Edmonton winters, it’s not uncommon for pipes to freeze, which can cause them to crack and leak. This might not be noticed until months later, though hopefully it gets caught right away. While not always possible to inspect your pipes, if you’re able to hear a dripping sound or notice a pool of water gathering, these are obvious signs of a leak.
Other signs of a leak can include rust around sink or tub drains, on pipes, or on the ground. An increase in your water bill, squeaky faucets, or a smell of mold or mustiness can also be signs of a leak.
Leaking pipes are a serious matter that can do a lot of damage to your home, and require immediate attention from a trained plumber.
It’s not just water pipes that can crack and leak. Also inspect your toilets, washing machine hoses, and hot water heaters, as they are also prone to leaking.
Did you know that there are now products available that can monitor for water leaks with a smart sensor that can send updates to your phone? We’re very excited about this new technology, it will save water and minimize damage from leaks!
Both shower, bathtub, and kitchen sink drains are prone to clogging. Often, a slow draining bathtub or shower can be caused by hair or soap clogging the drains and can be easily fixed by removing the blockage or using a drain snake pipe.
Kitchen drains are also likely to be blocked, especially in spring. Why spring? Well, over the winter months, our kitchens see a lot of action. We cook large, rich holiday meals for the holidays and New Year, often with delicious fats, oils, and meats.
If you’re not careful, the excess riches from these meals can accidentally go down our kitchen drains. Oils and fats can quickly congeal and block pipes, as can starch-heavy foods such as rice, pasta, and potato. Eggshells, meat bones, and dairy products are other common culprits for blocking sink drains.
Without a garbage disposal installed, no food should be going down your kitchen drain. Most foods can’t be broken down by your plumbing system and will remain there until it causes a blockage. It can be useful to remind young children of this as well.
Contact us for a professional drain cleaning service or to install a garbage disposal in your home today.
Leaking Outdoor Taps
Leaking outdoor faucets, that you might use for your hose or when washing your car, are a common occurrence in Edmonton. Unfortunately, leaks that begin in autumn or winter might not be noticed until the snow has melted away in spring.
Sometimes, these leaks can be caused by a leaking spigot, which can usually be fixed by tightening the packing nut or replacing the washer. Make sure to turn off the water supply before attempting.
If the faucets have frozen over the winter, this can cause the faucet to leak or even burst, causing a bigger problem.
To help avoid problems next spring, consider winterizing your outdoor faucets so they are better prepared for cold weather. Remove all outdoor hoses and store them indoors. Ask your plumber to make sure that your outdoor faucets are “frost-free” which is a special type that keeps them from freezing in the winter (as long as you remember to take the hose off).
Jammed Sump Pumps
What is a sump pump? Sump pumps, common in many Edmonton area homes, work to pump water and moisture away from the foundation of your home, keeping it out of your basement or garage. This is essential in keeping homes dry, but if your sump pump malfunctions over winter, it can cause big problems.
Sump pump problems can be complex, and they require regular maintenance from a professional to perform at their best. If you notice water in your home or basement this spring and you have a sump pump, it could be malfunctioning.
Common sump pump problems include frozen lines, jammed pumps, seized bearings, failed activation switches, or battery failure.
It is wise to test your sump pump in the spring before the thaw to make sure it is working properly before the water starts to flow.
Blocked Garbage Disposal
As we saw with backed-up sink drains, the busy holiday period often means a busy period for your kitchen. Although garbage disposals are designed to break down the food we put down, there are a few things that can go wrong with them.
First, make sure to always run the tap when sending food debris down the garbage disposal. Otherwise, the debris isn’t flushed through the pipes and will cause blockages.
There are a few foods that tend to cause more blockages than others in garbage disposals, including eggshells, banana peels, coffee grounds, and potato peels. If you can, try to dispose of these foods in alternate ways to protect the mechanics of your system.
Sometimes, a blockage can be as simple as a piece of large food or even silverware accidentally sent down the drain. While helpful, improper use of a garbage disposal can be a real frustration to homeowners. Although garbage disposals can sometimes be easily fixed, always call a professional if you’re concerned.
Frozen pipes are, unfortunately, a common occurrence in Edmonton, and often the damage is not noticed until the warmer spring months. A bit of prevention goes a long way. By taking some precautions, you can avoid frozen pipes in your home.
If you’re going out of town for the winter holidays or leaving your home empty for an extended period of time, it makes sense to turn the heat way down to save money. However,if the heating is turned down, pipes that are in vulnerable spots are much more likely to freeze. The heat doesn’t need to be left on at the normal level but don’t push your luck! If you are leaving, consider installing a smart leak/freeze alarm so you can check the conditions remotely.
You can also protect pipes by keeping interior doors of your home open to allow for even flow of air through the house. Consider installing extra insulation in your home in places where heat tends to escape easily. Covering your pipes with heating tape can also be used to warm them up in winter months but isn’t usually necessary in most situations.
Frozen pipes in your home can lead to bursts, which can be a very serious and costly problem. If this occurs, turn off the home’s water supply as soon as possible and call a professional plumber for help.
Although it’s possible to try to warm up the pipes yourself, this can be risky as it can sometimes result in accidental fires or further damage to the pipes.
There’s not much worse than walking downstairs and seeing water pooling up in your basement or rec room.
In this situation, the first thing to work out, either on your own or with the help of a plumber, is the cause of the flooding. This could be a wide range of things, including a large storm or snowmelt, sump pump or hot water tank failure or leakage, faulty or clogged gutters or drains, or sealing problems in your home’s foundation.
Once the cause of the flooding has been determined, you’ll know what needs to be repaired and can prevent further damage. However, in the meantime, you’ll need to clean up the flooded basement.
Depending on the amount of water, you might be able to clean up using a wet-dry vacuum, which are designed specifically for cleaning up water. If water damage is more substantial, you may need to hire a professional to come in with specialized equipment for removing the water.
After the water is gone, check your furniture and other personal items to check for moisture or damage, and remove them from the room. It is very common for water damage to lead to mold, after floods. It can also help to run a dehumidifier in the flooded room to help dry everything out and prevent further damage from moisture.
How To Prevent Spring Plumbing Problems
While spring plumbing problems are unfortunately common, there’s a lot that homeowners can do to prevent them before they happen.
For basic home maintenance, having a homeowner toolkit is a useful way to make sure you have all the tools needed for any basic repairs or home maintenance.
Homeowners can follow the steps mentioned above to avoid problems, including regular gutter cleaning, keeping the home heated in winter, watching what family members are putting down the sinks and drains, and booking regular plumbing servicing.
By keeping a lookout for unexpected signs that you might have a plumbing problem, such as an unusually high water bill, discoloured pipes, or any strange smells coming from your drains or pipes, you can help to reduce the chances of major damage to your home.
Contact A Local Professional
Contact Mr. Rooter to book a spring plumbing service, or for help with any of the spring problems above. Plumbing problems can be stressful, and we’re here to help make them easier. We are your local Edmonton plumbing specialists, here to help with any plumbing job, big or small. We look forward to hearing from you.