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A burst pipe is one of the worst kinds of a plumbing emergency and usually happens at the least opportune times. There are several things that a savvy homeowner can do to prevent a burst pipe, such as insulation and regular inspection for weak spots. However, there are a few telltale signs that your pipe or pipes are close to a leak. Keeping an eye on your plumbing system and drains and being aware of warnings can prevent a plumbing emergency.
At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, we’ve handled enough repairs and after-hours emergencies to know how to show homeowners just like you exactly what to look for.
Reduced Water Stream
A reduced water stream or a drop in water pressure is a common indication that you have a leak somewhere in your pipes. If the water stream is reduced in only one room of the home, then it’s likely that just the pipes leading there are compromised. However, if the water flow is lower in several rooms, or all over the house, then you may have a frozen pipe or ice build-up in between the city’s water main and your home.
A good winter habit is making a regular inspection of the pipes in your home, especially the ones that run along the exterior walls. Check for frost build-up along the pipes – if there is ice on the outside, there’s likely ice on the inside, too, and this can easily and quickly cause a plumbing emergency. If you notice frost on your pipes, you can thaw them with a hairdryer and prevent frost by opening the cabinets or wrapping the pipes in towels.
No Hot Water
Coming in from a cold day outside in the snow, nothing is better than a hot shower… but if you turn on your taps to disappointing constant cold water, then you may have frozen water in the pipes. First, check your water heater (or call your local plumber to check) to ensure it’s on. If it’s not, then the presence of excess cold water in the pipes isn’t being warmed up enough by the water from the water heater.
Higher Water Bill
It’s important to keep an eye on your monthly water bills, not just for your budget, but to compare usage over time. If your monthly bills are suddenly higher, or if they’re noticeably higher than that month the year prior, you may have one or more small leaks. Even if you don’t notice a burst pipe or plumbing emergency, tiny pinholes in your pipes can slowly leak water every time you turn on the tap. Since you’re charged for every drop of water that comes into your pipes from the city supply, you’re paying for the water that leaks out plus the water you actually use.
A sulfurous odor, the smell of rotten eggs, or any kind of new and unpleasant odor coming from your pipes when you turn on the water may indicate a leak. Or, if you notice that your drains are smelling funny, there could be a damaged sewer pipe on your property. This can easily be cause for concern – in many cases, a burst sewer pipe is even worse of a plumbing emergency than a burst water pipe. Fixing a sewer pipe can make an excavation or even removing part of your home’s walls to get to the damaged pipe.
Like stinky faucets and drains, persistent clogs in one or more of your home’s drains can indicate pipe problems. Clogs are caused in a variety of ways, but they all contribute to the same kinds of damage to your pipes. Your water pressure is consistent, and as it presses against the blockage, the water can push against worn or weakened seams. Or, if you have thinning spots in your pipes (either from excessive use of chemical drain cleaner or just general wear and tear), the pressure can cause the pipe to leak or burst.
It’s best to have a professional plumber remove clogs, rather than using a chemical drain cleaner. While these can be effective, more than the occasional use corrodes the material of your pipes.
Part of the regular self-inspection of your home’s plumbing should include inspecting the areas around your pipes, such as floors and the bottoms of cabinets. Pipes with tiny leaks can slowly drip water, and if they’re behind items in your cabinets or a little-used area, these leaks can persist until they become a plumbing emergency. Other times, the water can cause mold and mildew growth or damage your flooring or cabinetry. Even if this isn’t a plumbing emergency, water damage can be costly to repair.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
A plumbing emergency involving a burst pipe is most common in the wintertime, especially in colder areas where snow and freezing temperatures are more likely. You can reduce the chances of ice in your pipes by taking some common precautions. Wrap towels around the interior pipes that are close to the outside walls of your house to keep them warm. Have all your pipes, especially those that run from the city water main to your house, insulated by a professional. These two things help keep pipes warmer.
You should also leave a thin stream of water running overnight when temperatures drop below freezing. The water running through your pipes reduces the chances that the standing water in the pipes will freeze. If you’re in an especially frigid region of the country, you may wish to have all your pipes insulated.
Fix Your Pipes Before They Burst
The professional team at your local bluefrog Plumbing + Drain is ready to help you avoid a plumbing emergency this winter – or any time. We work around the clock, even on the coldest nights because we know that a burst pipe doesn’t always happen from 9 to 5. We also offer regular repairs and comprehensive preventative maintenance packages to keep your pipes and water running smoothly. Don’t wait for a plumbing emergency to call bluefrog Plumbing + Drain– visit us online today to see how we can help!