Drain Cleaning Tips

FROZEN PIPE AND DRAIN PREVENTION

When water freezes in a pipe, if it expands enough, pipe freeze blocking the water from flowing and the pipes may bursts, water escapes and serious damage results.

Why Pipes Burst
Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It's not the radial expansion of ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. Rather, following a complete ice blockage in a pipe, continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe causes water pressure to increase downstream -- between the ice blockage and a closed faucet at the end. It's this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe failure. Usually the pipe bursts where little or no ice has formed. Upstream from the ice blockage the water can always retreat back towards its source, so there is no pressure build-up to cause a break. Water has to freeze for ice blockages to occur. Pipes that are adequately protected along their entire length by placement within the building's insulation, insulation on the pipe itself, or heating, are safe.

Leave the heating on
One of the main causes of frozen pipes is switching the heating off completely when your holiday home is left empty. While this will save money in terms of fuel bills, it will expose your home to sub-zero winter temperatures and the expense of repairing damage should pipes burst. Most modern heating systems that are common in holiday cottages can still operate with the mains water turned off. A qualified plumber should be able to give you advice about this. Keeping the heating on will help prevent water still in the pipes from freezing, as water is continuously flowing. It is recommended to leave the heating permanently on (at least 13 degrees C), especially during cold snaps.

Letting the Water Run
Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. It's not that a small flow of water prevents freezing; this helps, but water can freeze even with a slow flow. Rather, opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes. A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed. Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a pipe may have frozen and will still need pressure relief.

If You Suspect a Frozen Pipe
If you open a faucet and no water comes out, don't take any chances. Call a plumber. If a water pipe bursts, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve (usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house); leave the faucet(s) open until repairs are completed. Don't try to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame; as this will damage the pipe and may even start a building fire. You might be able to thaw a pipe with a hand-held hair dryer. Slowly apply heat, starting close to the faucet end of the pipe, with the faucet open. Work toward the coldest section. Don't use electrical appliances while standing in water; you could get electrocuted.

Going on a Trip
When away from the house for an extended period during the winter, be careful how much you lower the heat. A lower temperature may save on the heating bill, but there could be a disaster if a cold spell strikes and pipes that normally would be safe, freeze and burst. A solution is to drain the water system. This is the best safeguard. With no water in the pipes, there is no freezing. This remedy should be considered even when the homeowner is not leaving but is concerned about a serious overnight freeze. To drain the system, shut off the main valve and turn on every water fixture (both hot and cold lines) until water stops running. It's not necessary to leave the fixtures open, since the system is filled mostly with air at that point and not subject to freezing. When returning to the house, turn on the main valve and let each fixture run until the pipes are full again. Source: Institute for Business and Home Safety. IBHS is a national nonprofit initiative of the insurance industry to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by natural disasters.

DRAIN & SEWER TIPS

To save you time, money and headaches down the road, we collected our favorite tips and tricks for solving common household plumbing problems.

POPULAR PLUMBING QUESTIONS

  • MY KITCHEN SINK IS CLOGGED, CAN I USE DRANO?

    Kitchen sinks tend to block due to food or residue that are placed down the drain. Homes with garbage disposals increase the risk of a blocked drains. Drano is good for most of the PVC pipe, when they are not used often. We recommend that if your kitchen sink is completely blocked, without any signs of the water level dropping, DO NOT to use Drano. In most cases, if Drano is placed within a clogged pipe, the chemicals will burn the seals of your pipe causeing water damages.

  • WATER RISES IN MY BATHTUB

    The most common sign of a clogged main drain or stack will be water rising in the garage drain, basement shower drain or toilet.

    In most of the cases, you will start to hear a gurgling sound coming from the drains.

    If you notice that when you use the washing machine, the water starts to get in the shower or in the garage drain - This is the first clue that your main drain is blocked. A blocked main drain can cause major damage to your home. We can help you contact us and make an appointment.

  • MY MAIN DRAIN IS BLOCKED, CAN WE INSPECT THE DRAIN WITH A CAMERA?

    When a homeowner noticed a drain is blocked, the first reaction is passing a camera to see what is causing the blockage. Before inspecting your drains, we must first unclogged the drain, to release any water within the pipe, afterwards we pass our vidoe camera to see what may have caused the blockage.

    We also offer our video camera inspections for home owers looking to purchase a new home and inspecting the main drain.

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