Here Are the Top 9 Most Common Winter Plumbing Problems and What You Should Do

Here Are the Top 9 Most Common Winter Plumbing Problems and What You Should Do


The winter months may be very difficult for locals in Indianapolis and the nearby cities. During this time of year, plumbing problems can cause fear among local residents as they attempt to fix difficulties and safeguard their properties from harm. By performing routine maintenance and being proactive, many of the most frequent plumbing issues in the winter can be avoided, or they can be easily fixed using plumbing troubleshooting techniques.


Indianapolis-based Oak Lawn HVAC’s licensed plumbing staff discusses common winter plumbing issues as well as what to do if they occur to you. We describe how to avoid these problems as well as what to do if and when they do arise. As usual, call Oak Lawn HVAC for prompt and dependable plumbing installation and repair if you discover that you want a qualified plumber to address wintertime plumbing problems.

Best Winter Plumbing Issues

Some plumbing system problems tend to occur more frequently than others during the colder months. The most typical plumbing issues during the winter are listed here, along with solutions.


  1. Outside pipes that are icy

If not properly winterized, water lines that supply outdoor spigots may freeze. Due to the fact that these lines don’t enter the house and are frequently not used in the winter, burst pipes can cause significant water damage before a leak is even spotted.


Take initiative

  • To avoid winter freezes, winterize outdoor hose bibs in the fall. To prevent damage, disconnect the hoses, drain the water, and store them for the winter. Turn off the water line valve inside the house that supplies the spigot. Open the hose bib valve outside to allow water to drain and keep it open all winter to relieve pressure if freezing does happen. To keep the hose bib protected during the winter, use an insulating cover.
  • Think about switching to frost-free hose bibs from outdoor spigots. These carefully created parts, positioned at a downward angle to allow for drainage and with a water valve located closer to the interior of the residence, assist prevent the chance of freezing.
  • The water lines that supply the outside hose bibbs on your property should be insulated.

Ways to solve it

  1. If it isn’t already open, open the hose bibb valve.
  2. Put some towels or rags against the wall where the hose bibb base is located to insulate it.
  3. To wet the cloth and heat the hose bibb, add boiling water. Add hot water as necessary, then check the spigot outside to see if water is trickling out, indicating that the freeze is melting.
  4. Heat can also be applied to a hose bibb’s base using heat guns or hair dryers.


Have your plumber replace old outdoor spigots with frost-free hose bibb versions to prevent hidden water damage this winter. This inexpensive addition might offer your house excellent wintertime protection.


  1. Indoor pipe freezing

During the winter, water supply pipes inside the house might freeze; those that are located in uncovered spaces and close to outside walls are particularly at risk. Major water leaks can result from frozen pipes that snap or explode. One sign of frozen pipes is a very faint or nonexistent flow of water from sinks and showers.


Be a leader.

  • Leave faucets running at a very little drip to relieve pressure in the lines and keep water flowing during cold weather when pipe freezes are a possibility.
  • Allow the heat from the house to circulate in the area by leaving cabinets beneath sinks open during cold weather.
  • Install pipe insulation on water supply lines, particularly those that are located in uncovered spaces and along external walls.
  • Install pressure relief valves on water lines to assist reduce pressure buildup, which can lead to pipe leaks and breaks when freezing temperatures take place.

Ways to solve it

  1. Checking the faucets all over the house will help you discover the freeze. If all of the faucets are affected, the main water supply pipe to the house is probably frozen. If only one or a few fixtures in a single room are impacted, the freeze is probably occurring along the water line that supplies that space.
  2. As you work to defrost the water line, leave the affected faucets open.
  3. On the frozen surface, apply direct heat. Warmth can be provided through space heaters, heat lamps, and hair dryers. You can encircle the pipe with electric blankets and heating pads.
  4. When the water starts flowing again, keep an eye on the faucet and turn it off after the pipe has thawed.
  5. In order to prevent floods and water damage if pipes burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve of the house. Replace or fix the pipe portion that is broken.

Even though they are not long-term fixes, temporary repairs can be undertaken to fix damaged pipes. To prevent water damage to the home, pipes should be replaced or professionally fixed as soon as feasible.


  1. obstructed kitchen sinks

Kitchens and kitchen sinks work hard throughout the holiday cooking and festivities. Kitchen sink drain blockages are more prone to happen as food waste is put down in garbage disposals on a regular basis. Take precautions to avoid drain blockages and act swiftly to clear them if they do happen in order to keep your kitchen sink in operation throughout the winter.


Get ready

  • Make sure nothing incorrect goes down your waste disposal. The trashcan should always be used to dispose of goods like fat, grease, cooking oil, coffee grounds, meat bones, and some other things.
  • Always use cold water when operating the garbage disposal, and keep it running for 15 to 30 seconds after shutting it off to help food waste flow via the drain.
  • Run ice through the unit to periodically clean waste disposals. Before turning on the disposal, plug the drain with a stopper.

Ways to solve it

  1. To avoid mishaps, turn off the waste disposal’s electricity at both the wall switch and the breaker.
  2. Look inside the garbage disposal to find any clogs. Pull the impediment out of the device using kitchen tongs or pliers. Never use your hand to unclog a clog in the garbage disposal.
  3. To give the engine time to cool, wait around 15 minutes before starting the garbage disposal.
  4. Press the reset button at the bottom of the garbage disposal after turning the device back on.
  1. Water heater difficulties

Wintertime, when homes are crowded with visitors for the holidays, places a greater strain on water heaters. Repairs or replacement may be required if your water heater is unable to provide any hot water or struggles to meet demand.


Be a leader.

  • Maintain your water heater on a regular basis. Most tank water heaters need to be drained once each year. To verify appropriate operation, test the pressure relief valve.
  • To avoid freezing and maintain the heat while hot water passes through pipes to fixtures, insulate the water supply inlet and hot water outlet pipes coming into and going out of your water heater.
  • For tank water heater models, install a water heater blanket to prevent energy loss. Most home improvement retailers carry these.

Ways to solve it

  1. You might try raising the water heater’s thermostat if it has trouble producing enough hot water to meet demand. Never exceed 125 degrees to avoid scalds and to maintain energy-efficient operation.
  2. Check your gas or electricity supply, depending on the sort of water heater you have, if your water heater isn’t working.
  3. The limit switch on the water heater thermostat should be checked. It might trip if the water is too hot, in which case it needs to be reset.

Call a plumber to inspect the system and perform any necessary repairs if you are unable to resolve winter water heater issues. If your water heater is more than ten years old, it may be time to replace it. Take into account high-efficiency choices that will provide your home with dependable, economical hot water for many years to come.


  1. Outside drain harm

Outdoor drains can freeze throughout the winter, which can result in damage. Surface drains made of plastic are susceptible to breaking because of temperature-related expansion and contraction. When the cold winter hits, take meticulous care of these drains to prevent damage.


Be a leader.

  • Think about switching from plastic to metal drains. Metal drains—in particularly galvanized steel—can withstand freezing temperatures far better than plastic counterparts and are less likely to shatter throughout the winter. Compared to plastic models, they can also bear the weight of ice buildup better.
  • Fall is the best time to clear leaves and yard waste from outside drains to prevent clogs and drainage issues through the winter.
  • Clear any buildup from the drain cover as soon as possible when it is snowing or raining freezing rain.

Ways to solve it

  1. Pour hot water with salt or a solution of water and deicer down the drain if ice accumulates on outdoor drains.
  2. If the ice cover is thick, use heat to melt away the thick ice and break up any large chunks.


  1. Backup for sump pumps

Due to the melting of snow and ice during the winter, sump pumps may be used more frequently. These systems may clog or freeze up and back up.


Be a leader.

  • In the fall, keep your sump pump in working order. Debris and dirt that could lead to obstructions should be cleaned out of the sump pit.
  • Throughout the winter, test the sump pump frequently to ensure functionality.
  • Keep the heat on in basements with sump pumps to avoid the pit and pipes freezing.
  • Redirecting water away from the house’s foundation will lessen the strain on your sump pump. It will be beneficial to install efficient outdoor drainage and reroute gutter drains.
  • Clear the clogs from the intake and discharge lines of the sump pump. Protect these lines from freezing by insulating them. The discharge pipe could be buried underground for further security, providing insulation to the above-ground portion. To avoid freezing, you might want to install a bigger discharge hose.

Ways to solve it

Follow these instructions to resolve this frequent plumbing issue when sump pump lines freeze:


  1. Unplug the device or interrupt electricity at the breaker to turn off the unit’s power.
  2. A discharge line outlet outside the house should be checked for blockages. Remove any obstructions to the escape, including snow, ice, and other objects.
  3. Apply heat at the drain opening for about an hour to melt the clog if the discharge line has a blockage close to its exit.
  4. Using a submersible pump, wet/dry vacuum, or bucket, drain any remaining water from the sump pit.
  5. Disconnect the sump pump’s drain line.
  6. To clear the clog, run boiling water into the drainpipe. Continue doing this until the obstruction thaws and water can flow out of the discharge line without restriction. Reconnect the line to turn back on the sump pump’s power.


  1. A frozen septic tank or pipe

During periods of cold weather, septic tanks and lines that are not well covered by soil are susceptible to freezing. The home’s drainage system may completely stop functioning if there is a break in the main line that joins the main drain line to the septic tank. Septic tanks can freeze over when they are full, causing a system backup. Water supply contamination and damage from sewage breaches are both possible outcomes.


Be a leader.

  • Examine the region where your septic system is located for soil erosion before it gets too cold. To better insulate septic lines, fill in locations where erosion is found with the earth. The earth might freeze more quickly if it is compressed.
  • Straw should be spread over the areas above the tank and its lines to provide your septic system with additional winter protection.
  • Before the winter season, have your septic tank pumped to remove waste and avoid freezing.
  • This winter, make an effort not to overload your septic system. Take steps to conserve water, and only use your garbage disposal as often as is necessary for your home. Make sure you continue to flush and apply heat to your septic system, though.
  • Avoid driving over your septic tank or field since this compacts the dirt or snow and makes the septic system more prone to freezing.
  • To prevent soil compaction, aerate the soil in the fall above the septic field.


Ways to solve it

  1. Open your septic tank’s access lid by locating it.
  2. affix a water supply. To prevent septic backing into the garden hose, use a PEX pipe when using a hot water supply, or a garden hose with a brass nozzle attached to a backflow preventer.
  3. The septic tank’s exit from the house’s main drain line should be located there. This is usually on the tank wall next to the house and has the shape of a “T.”
  4. Turn on the water after inserting the hose into the outflow of the septic pipe. Until you encounter resistance, advance the hose.
  5. Aerate the obstruction by letting water flow. You can advance the hose further as it melts.
  6. After the obstruction has been cleared, take the hose off, put the septic tank cover back on, and give the hose a good cleaning.

When sewage lines freeze, avoid using direct heat to try to thaw them. If you are not confident in your ability to resolve septic freezes on your own, call a plumber right away. Working with a plumber to make repairs will help you avoid further problems and address the underlying cause of the freezing.


  1. A frozen well pump

Private wells are a common source of indoor water in Central Indiana residences. Well, pumps could freeze in the winter, cutting off the home’s water supply. Because they are buried so deeply in the well, deep well pumps are unlikely to freeze, while jet well pumps are more likely to do so because they are installed in homes or basements and have a constant need to store water. To bring water back into the house, the pump needs to be defrosted right away.


Be a leader.

  • To maintain heat surrounding the device, keep your jet well pump in a well-insulated space.
  • To avoid freezing that prevents the home from receiving water, insulate any well supply lines.


Ways to solve it

  1. It is very likely that the cast iron body of the jet well pump may shatter if it freezes because of water expansion. The pump must be replaced in this situation as there is no other option.
  2. Turn off the pump so the water inside it can defrost if you manage to catch a freeze before damage happens. To aid in defrosting, warm the vicinity of the pump.


  1. Basement flooding brought on by snowmelt

After a significant snowfall, melting could cause basements all throughout Indianapolis to flood as the weather warms up. Basement flooding brought on by snowmelt is likely caused by poor drainage and find flaws.


Be a leader.

  • To ensure that water securely drains away from the home’s foundation and does not collect during the winter, clean gutters and examine outdoor drainage systems in the fall.
  • To ensure functionality, keep your sump pump in good condition and test it frequently.
  • If your sump pump breaks down or becomes overburdened by a lot of snowmelt, think about installing a backup sump pump to help.
  • Clear snow from the area around your foundation after a snowfall, leaving a five-foot clearance. This will assist in melting water flowing away from your house rather than toward it.

To prevent a heavy burden on your gutters when the weather warms up, gently remove any snow that has accumulated on the roof.

In the fall, look for cracks and water leaks in the basement and foundation walls, and mend them as necessary.


Ways to solve it

  1. Dry the area quickly if your basement floods as a result of snowmelt to minimize water damage. Depending on the volume of water you have to deal with, remove any accumulated water using towels or pumps.
  2. Get rid of anything in the basement that has water damage.
  3. To stop the formation of mold, quickly dry the basement. To eliminate moisture and keep air flowing around the area to aid in drying, dehumidifiers, and industrial fans can be employed.
  4. When the basement is completely dry, check for water leaks and seal any cracks with caulking or hydraulic cement to stop further leaks.

Prevent Regular Plumbing Issues in the Winter

Don’t wait to act when these common winter plumbing issues arise. Call Oak Lawn HVAC for quick, dependable plumbing repairs whether you need to stop a leak, fix drainage, or fix a malfunctioning sump pump. In the event of a plumbing emergency, we are on call around the clock, every day of the week, 365 days a year.

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