Common Winter Plumbing Issues for the Edmonton Area and How to Avoid Them

winter plumbing issues

Winter is the holiday season and we already have so much on our minds. There’s holiday shopping, baking, and eating, and the constant challenge to stay warm. Although your home’s plumbing is probably not top-of-mind, it’s important to protect your home against plumbing issues during the cold winter months.

Below you will find some common winter plumbing issues, what you can do about them, and how we can help!

Make Sure Your Furnace is in Great Shape

The most common winter plumbing problem is a broken furnace because when the heat goes out, your pipes may freeze, crack, or burst. Not to mention damaged ducts, fires, gas leaks, and even explosions!

So make sure your furnace is well maintained and in great shape for the winter by reading up on furnace maintenance and troubleshooting in your guides below:

How to Avoid and Fix Frozen pipes

Frozen pipes are common in the Edmonton area during winter months, so it’s a good idea to know which pipes are at risk and take steps against freezing. Pipes may freeze because they don’t have enough insulation or warm air flow around them.

When pipes freeze they can create cracks, leaks, or even floods, which can cause significant damage to your home or business. Read our guide on how to prevent and thaw frozen pipes.

Small Leaks in Pipes are Actually a Big Deal

You may think that a small drip from your outdoor faucet isn’t a concern, or that constant dripping tap in your sink is just a fact of life, but even small, easily fixable leaks can waste a lot of water, and lead to water damage to the interior and exterior of your home!

What may have been a small, insignificant leak in the summer can turn into a major issue in the winter. According to a Toronto Life article by R. Hough, “If undetected, leaks in water pipes may contribute to future pipe failures. In the city of Toronto alone, there are roughly 1,400 water main breaks a year and the vast majority occur in the winter—up to 70 a week.”

Leaks can also corrode pipes and introduce rust into your water supply.

Also important to know is that a leak in your home affects the whole system. The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) puts the issue into perspective: “Water losses represent a lost opportunity. According to the latest estimates from Environment Canada, one in every six cubic metres of water supplied by municipal water agencies in Canada never reaches a customer. If all of this water were recovered, it could supply all of the needs for a city of over three million people.”

That’s saying that water lost to leaks could provide water for Edmonton and area three times over!

Here’s how to check for water leaks in your home:

  1. Check your water bill. Edmontonians use around 250 Litres of water per day, which is low compared to other regions. If your water usage for a family of four exceeds this amount, you may have leaks.
  1. Do a water meter test. During a time when you’re not using any water, check your meter. Then check it again two hours later. There should be no change on the meter. If there is, you may have a leak.

Also read our water leaks blog post for more on checking for leaks!

winter plumbing issues

Image via Pixabay

How to Avoid Running out of Hot Water

Getting up in the morning is hard enough. Temperatures below -30 are common in Alberta, and waking up to frigid temperatures and snow is practically painful! Sometimes a nice, hot shower is exactly what you need to be able to face the world. Except maybe once you turn on the tap, only cold water comes out!

Here are some tips to avoid running out of hot water:

  • Plan your water usage. Don’t take showers one after the other, instead space them out.
  • Consider turning up the water heater, but no more than 125F to avoid scalding.
  • Clean your showerhead to get rid of mineral deposits that may be causing low water pressure. Here’s an easy way to make your showerhead sparkle.

How to Avoid a Boiler or Water Heater Breakdown

Maybe you don’t have hot water and it’s not simply because you’ve run out, but your boiler or water heater has broken down. Take some steps before winter hits to prevent this from happening:

  • Make sure the water heater’s pilot light is on at all times.
  • Since Edmonton has hard water, sediment can build up in the water heater tank and cause rust, which could make its way into your drinking water. If you have an old or rusty water heater, consider replacing it before the weather gets cold.
  • Another way to prevent boiler or water heater breakdown is to have us install a water softener for you. Water softeners break down the calcium and magnesium that cause scaling. Learn more about the benefits of a water softener here. 

Even if your boiler and water heater are newer, we recommend having them serviced in the summer or fall to help prevent a breakdown. If, when winter is here, you find yourself without hot water, call plumbing emergency line right away.

How to Prevent Leaks and Bursts in Outdoor Faucets and Rain Barrels

Leaking or poorly insulated outdoor faucets are one of the main sources for plumbing issues in the winter.

Avoid these by shutting off the water to your outdoor faucets and draining them completely. Drain your rain barrels, fountains, and other outdoor water reservoirs as well.

Once you’ve drained the plumbing fixtures, you can detach the P-trap, drain it, and then reinstall it.

How to Prevent High Heating Bills

Here are a few easy ways to save money on heating:

  • Have a thermostat, and program it to a couple degrees cooler when you’re sleeping or aren’t going to be home. It’s safe to go as low as 16 C.
  • Make sure your heating vents are clean and clear of clutter to allow warm air to flow freely.
  • Draft proof your home.

Draft proofing is a good idea for any season. In the summer, drafts mean you’re not getting the most of your air conditioner, or you’ll find that certain areas of your home are unbearably warm.

In the winter, drafts are much more uncomfortable and potentially harmful and costly. Your pipes could freeze and spring leaks or even burst. Draft proof your home by adding new insulation or adding more insulation in drafty areas.

Common drafty areas may include the following:

  • Around the fireplace and chimney
  • Older or improperly installed windows and doors
  • Places where your walls meet your home’s foundation
  • Where pipes, phone and cable lines, and electricity wires enter the home

Don’t let winter plumbing issues become problems. From small leaks to water heater upgrades, we can help you out.

Share your winter plumbing tips below and share this article with your friends to make sure they stay safe, warm, and plumbing-trouble free this season.

2 replies
  1. Houston Plumber
    Houston Plumber says:

    Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Cheers

    Reply
  2. Steve
    Steve says:

    Great tips, very important to make sure your boiler does not break down in the winter months. I have seen it happen many times and it’s usually to cold to stay in the home at that point.

    Reply

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