Common Winter Plumbing Problems & How to Avoid Them
In places like Europe and North America, winter can get pretty cold. They get enough snow to fill the streets and temperatures well below zero. This also comes with potential plumbing complications, including water freezing in the pipes.
In Australia, we’re lucky enough to enjoy relatively moderate temperatures, and many of these problems don’t apply. However, we all know that winters in Sydney and other southern states can come with mornings and nights of negative temperatures, as well as excessive rainfall and strong storms. All of this can put added stress on your plumbing system during the winter months.
We might not have to worry so much about frozen pipes, but winter plumbing problems remain a genuine concern. To help you get on top of these issues, we’ve compiled a list of common winter plumbing problems in Sydney and how to avoid them.
1. Hot Water System Malfunctioning
The cold winter weather often comes with an increased reliance on our water heaters. We make our showers longer and our water temperature warmer as we try and beat the bitter cold. In some households, hot water systems are also used to power the central heating, meaning they get even more of a workout in winter.
Common hot water unit problems that you may experience during winter include malfunctioning thermostats, leaking water tanks, and pilot lights that keep going out.
To prevent these issues, we recommend draining your hot water system yearly. This releases sediment and gives your system a better chance of functioning well during periods of high demand. To drain your system, all you need to do is release the pressure valve and ensure there is something like a bucket to catch the hot water that is released. If you would like help with this task, simply call a plumber.
As well as draining the system, you should arrange professional hot water unit inspections and repairs every 2-3 years, or as soon as your system starts playing up.
Are you looking for a team of plumbers in Hurstville or Kogarah?
You can trust All Needs Plumbing for hot water system installation, inspection, maintenance, and repair.
2. Water Pump/Sump Pump Damage
Do you have a water pump installed in a sump pit? If you live in low-lying areas of Sydney that are prone to flooding and stormwater damage, you might need one of these specialised pumps, also known as sump pumps.
Sump pumps are more likely to break down in winter, so it’s best to ensure they are clean and in good condition before the colder weather sets in. This also applies to any other pumps used for irrigation and water tanks. A malfunctioning pump can cause a big mess and serious water damage, so it’s essential to check and clean these systems early.
If you notice any signs of damage with your sump pit, sump pump, or water pump, phone a plumber for professional plumbing maintenance and repairs.
3. Burst Pipes and Frozen Pipes
You wouldn’t want to deal with burst and leaking pipes at any time of the year, let alone winter. Unfortunately, winter might be exactly when your burst pipes strike.
Temperature changes may lead to increased contraction and expansion of the pipe, which could contribute to a crack and eventually a leak or burst. Blocked drains and pipes – which we'll cover in more detail in the next point – can also contribute to plumbing damage and an eventual water leak.
As we stated from the top, frozen pipes are extremely unlikely in Sydney and across Australia. However, if an exposed section of pipe experiences cold enough temperatures, it could theoretically happen.
Here are some tips for preventing burst, leaking, and frozen pipes in winter:
- Ensure your pipes and drains have been professionally cleaned before winter starts.
- Keep your heater on very low levels at all times. This will eliminate quick changes between cold and hot temperatures and reduce the chance of pipes expanding and contracting too much.
- Disconnect and store your hose in winter. A connected garden hose with a little bit of water in it might just be exposed enough to freeze in colder temperatures. This can cause expansion and damage to the connected pipe.
Do you have burst, leaking, or damaged pipes in Sydney? Call our plumbers in Rockdale, Cronulla, or your local area for a fast service!
All Needs Plumbing can assist you with leak detection and repair and all other required services.
4. Blocked Drains / Sewer Line and Water Line Backups
The first signs of a blocked drain can take many forms. You might notice a weak flush in your toilet, water gurgling in the shower, or a slow draining kitchen sink. If you’re lucky, your problem will be contained to one of those areas. However, persistent and recurring symptoms like these usually indicate a deeper blockage in your drainage system.
Your underground pipes could be filled with a range of debris that has directly caused a blockage or contributed to pipe damage, which has obstructed the drain.
Blocked drains are more likely in winter for a few reasons. More debris will probably be entering your drains due to inclement and windy weather. Thriving tree roots may have grown down to your pipes and broken into them via the smallest gap. Grease and grime that’s washed down the drain is also more likely to solidify into a clog in the winter months.
Most people don’t know they’re dealing with blocked drains until they’ve started causing damage. The best form of prevention is to act proactively. Before winter sets in, ask your plumber for a CCTV pipe inspection. A plumber can survey your pipes and recommend the most appropriate solution for your blocked drains.
If your pipes have been damaged by a blockage, the best course of action may be pipe repairs. For underground pipes, non-invasive pipe relining allows the plumber to repair pipes without digging up your garden or disrupting your plumbing system.
If you’re dealing with blocked drains in Sydney in the middle of winter, All Needs Plumbing can help. Call our local plumbers in Miranda, Engadine or near you for fast services.
5. Water Pressure Problems
Water pressure problems are more likely to occur in winter because they are often caused by the points mentioned above! Blocked drains and pipes, water leaks, burst pipes, and cracked plumbing fixtures are just some of the problems that could cause low water pressure.
If your shower isn’t as satisfying as it used to be or cleaning the dishes is taking far longer, you could be dealing with a water pressure problem as well as other plumbing issues.
Call a plumber to find the source of the problem and resolve it fast. To avoid water pressure issues during winter, some autumn plumbing maintenance is recommended.
6. Toilet Repairs
Do you feel the urge to go to the toilet more during winter? You’re not alone!
There is actually a recognised scientific phenomenon which states that we go to the toilet more during winter. This is due to the drop in temperature and how it affects our bodies.
The more you use your toilet, the more likely you are to experience toilet leaks, toilet bowl cracks, blocked toilets, and other toilet troubles.
To prevent this, keep an eye on your toilet and make sure it’s in good working condition. You should also avoid flushing anything that doesn’t belong down the toilet, including fats, oils, feminine hygiene products, and wet wipes (even the so-called “flushable” ones can’t be flushed!)
If you already have problems with your toilet, organise prompt toilet repairs in Sydney with a professional team of plumbers.
7. Clogged and Damaged Gutters
Your roof and gutters work overtime in winter due to the increased severity and frequency of storms and heavy rains. If your gutters and downpipes become clogged with debris, this can lead to roof and gutter damage, water leaks inside your home, and much more.
Before winter sets in, we recommend cleaning your gutters thoroughly. You should also inspect and clean your roof and gutters after heavy storms. Remember to be careful and act with caution at all times.
If you want to ensure your gutters are thoroughly cleaned without any risk to your health, consider professional gutter cleaning. Call our team of plumbers in St George for professional roof and gutter services.
8. Flooded Basements
Flooding in the basement can occur when drains are obstructed by twigs, leaves, and debris. During extreme weather events, these obstructions could cause pooling water to gather in your house, often starting in the basement.
Your chances of a flooded basement are also increased if you have a low-lying property that is close to a natural source of water. Burst pipes inside your home could also lead to flooding in the basement, and you are less likely to notice a burst pipe in a rarely used part of your home.
To prevent flooded basements, make sure your drains, gutters, and downpipes are clear, especially if bad weather is expected. If you're worried about the condition of the drains in your basement, you can always have them looked at by a professional.
Finally, if you discover rapid flooding in your basement, call an emergency plumber for immediate 24/7 services.
Take the Next Steps Today
Taking care of your plumbing in winter doesn’t need to be stressful, but it does require some forward-thinking and preparation. General plumbing maintenance is highly recommended before winter, and you should also check on your most-used plumbing systems yourself to ensure they are clean and in good condition.
If you need plumbing assistance during winter, rest assured that All Needs Plumbing can help you. For a free quote on plumbing services across Sydney, call 1300 110 230 or make a request online.
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