These Are the Top 3 Most Common Plumbing Problems During the Autumn Season

The fall months mean pumpkin patches, fallen leaves, costumes, tricks, and treats for many of us in Central Indiana. However, for homeowners the fall season also means common fall plumbing issues are more likely to pop up. As the temperature drops approaching the new season of cold weather this winter, you need to make sure your plumbing system is protected so you don’t experience a plumbing emergency at home.

Common fall plumbing problems happen across the Hoosier state, even to the best-intentioned homeowners. With professional help from the Mr. Plumber plumbing team, learn why particular plumbing issues are common fall events, including water heater issues, frozen pipes, burst pipe damage, and blocked drainage system plumbing.

Tips from a plumber found below will also help you avoid these common fall plumbing incidents. See what can be done to lower the risk of water heater problems, a frozen pipe, and clogged drains over the fall. In case you do find yourself dealing with one of these fall plumbing problems, Mr. Plumber also explains when you should contact us for assistance from a professional plumber. Same-day service is available if you need a repair for urgent plumbing problems – contact us 24/7/365.

1. Common Fall Plumbing Problems with Your Drainage System

The top common fall plumbing issues that concern your drainage system start when the leaves fall. The changing leaves may look gorgeous on the trees and as they fall across your property, but the trouble begins once they hit the ground.

Piles of leaves in your yard can cause complications for drains and parts of the plumbing drainage system. It doesn’t matter if you rake them up yourself or if fall rain and wind blew piles into existence, leaving leaves in piles through fall into winter creates the potential for clogged drains in your sink, tub, and toilet, a clog in the vent pipe, blocked drainage in the main sewer line, as well as plumbing issues for sump pumps.

  • Big piles of leaves start to decay, and large leaves break into smaller debris particles. These smaller bits are more easily blown into drains where they can build up and contribute to blocked drainage of the sewer pipes.

  • Leaves that pile up in or against the vent pipe opening on your roof clog this critical plumbing vent. A blockage can cause an air pressure imbalance in the drain pipes which leads to a slow-draining sink, tub, and toilet as well as possible sewage backup in your home. It also prevents harmful sewer gases from escaping the drainage system, so your family could be exposed to these fumes indoors.

  • If leaves fall in gutters and aren’t cleaned out, they will block drainage of rain and snow runoff from the roof over the fall and winter. Instead of the water flowing away from the house, it will drain back toward the foundation. Water may flood the crawlspace or basement, forcing sump pumps to power up and remove it.

  • If leaves form a blockage at the exit of the discharge lines on sump pumps, there is a serious risk of the sump pump failing to protect the home against flooding.

When leaves fall, reduce the amount of matter left on your property along with your chances of dealing with common fall plumbing problems with your drainage system!

  • Rake leaves, bag them, and dispose of them off your property or pile them at your curb for pickup and removal.

  • Inspect the vent cap on the vent pipe protruding from your roofline. If it has damage or is missing, install a new one to prevent leaves from becoming stuck inside.

  • Regularly check the vent pipe for piled leaves or leaves stuck in the cap opening. If you find leaves here, use extension tools or safely access the roof to remove them and clear the vent.

  • Clean out your gutters in the fall. Depending on when you do this, you may need to repeat it later in the season to get all leaves out of this home drainage system.

  • Inspect the drain cover to each outdoor drain around your house. If it is damaged or missing, have a new drain cover installed by your professional plumber to keep leaf debris out of your drains.

When and if you notice common fall plumbing problems like clogged drains or sluggish draining, you need a plumber to fix the plumbing issue. Drain cleaning can remove even the toughest clog so your drains and sewer line drain freely.

2. Common Fall Water Heater Troubles

Water heater issues are common fall events because of the seasonal temperature drop. Common fall plumbing problems Central Indiana homeowners have with their water heaters are lukewarm water and slow water heating.

Common plumbing problems with water heaters in fall stem from cold weather. Cooler air lowers ground temperature – while staying at a warm 50 to 60 degrees minimum year-round, the ground can be much cooler in the fall than it was during summer a few months back. The cold water that fills your water heater comes from the ground, through a well or municipal supply lines, so ground temperature has a direct effect on incoming water temperature.

Colder ground means lower temperature cold water enters the water heater in the fall versus in the summer – water can be a whopping 25 degrees colder! Starting out with lower-temperature cold water, your water heater has an increased workload in order to heat water to a comfortable temperature for baths, showering, laundry, washing dishes, and other uses. This means your water heater will run longer and use more energy for water heating.

Increasing water heater use due to this temperature drop creates more fall plumbing problems than higher energy costs. Your water heater stands a higher chance of overheating which can harm parts of the unit and suffers from more regular wear and tear. Frequent overheating, running on damaged parts, and a lack of water heater maintenance could cause your whole hot water heater system to fail, leaving you with no hot or lukewarm water – only cold.

What can you do to prevent these fall water heater issues? A few things:

  • Keep your water heater maintained. At least once per year, flush your water heater. This step is for a tank or a tankless water heater as it helps remove minerals and sediment that have settled onto components like the heating element, restricting their performance and energy efficiency. A tankless unit also has an air filter and water filter that require regular cleaning.

  • Insulate pipes where cold water enters the water heater and all portions of the supply line you can access. A pipe sleeve, UL-listed heat tape, or heat cable will help water reach the system at a warmer temperature so your water heater has less work to do.

  • Handle any known water heater repair issues now. A visit from your professional plumber can diagnose and fix performance problems. The plumber will repair damaged parts or replace the water heater altogether if needed.

Common fall plumbing problems that affect your water heater over the season shouldn’t be ignored. Contact your professional plumber for service to repair the unit or install a new one if necessary.

3. When Frozen Pipes Lead to Common Plumbing Issues of Leaky Pipes and Burst Pipes

During fall, the temperature drops significantly in Central Indiana. Often, we see the first freeze before winter officially arrives. It’s always a possibility that the state could experience temperatures below freezing for several days in a row, which heightens the risk of common plumbing problems concerning frozen pipes.

When pipes are continuously exposed to cold air that’s below freezing, pipes can freeze anytime and ice will start to form in the lines. As water freezes, it expands and pushes against pipe walls from within. This pressure weakens the material, leaving it vulnerable to cracks and loose joints. A frozen pipe happens faster than you may think – it takes just 6 hours of exposure to temperatures below 20 degrees.

Common plumbing pipes that are most vulnerable to freezing are:

  • Outdoor hose bibb and supply line.
  • Pipes installed in spaces that are unheated and/or uninsulated/under-insulated such as a garage, crawlspace, attic, or basement.
  • Pipes located furthest away from the home’s center, including those running along exterior walls.

Protect these pipes from the common plumbing issues related to freezing with some simple preventative measures:

  • Help pipes stay warm when you insulate them with a pipe sleeve, UL-listed heat tape or heat cable.
  • Add insulation materials to the area of the home where exposed pipes run.
  • Seal up air leaks that allow the home to lose heat and take on chilly outdoor air that can impact the pipes.
  • Always leave heat on at least 55 degrees in the home through late fall and winter.

If the threat of frozen pipes is upon you due to outdoor temperatures, do the following:

  • Leave doors to cabinets below sink fixtures open so the home’s heat can circulate in and add warmth to the pipes installed behind the wall in that area.
  • Allow faucets to continually drip, keeping water flowing to melt any ice and allowing melted ice to exit the piping.
  • Raise temperatures in unheated areas with exposed pipes temporarily through the cold snap with an electric space heater.

Common plumbing issues resulting from frozen pipes in the home are low water pressure and no water coming from taps. If you notice one of these common plumbing symptoms, get to work thawing the piping right away.

  1. Find the frozen pipe. Turn on taps to assess water flow. Low water pressure or no water from one says the ice is likely in that fixture’s supply pipe. Symptoms in all fixtures throughout an area say the supply branch holds the ice. If all the home’s faucets exhibit symptoms, the main line is frozen.
  2. Take a look at the condition of the frozen pipe. If there are visible cracks or leaks, shut off water before thawing. If you do not see damage, keep water on to aid the thawing process.
  3. Turn faucets on before you work on thawing pipes.
  4. Warm the pipe by wrapping it in an electric heating pad or towels soaked in hot water. Use a space heater or hair dryer to heat the pipe and melt ice. For interior pipes, crank up your thermostat a few degrees to warm the home and assist with melting ice from plumbing lines.
  5. Keep doing this until you see normal water pressure return to your taps.

If the ice in frozen pipes puts too much pressure on the material, you may have pipes burst. Burst pipes are those that have suffered serious damage. Burst pipes also give off clues like low water pressure and no water supply, though more sinister symptoms potentially exist behind the scenes where the pipes sit. 

Burst pipes can allow water to leak out at a very fast rate, causing major water damage to the home.

Burst pipes are an emergency in the plumbing world. Contact a professional plumber for immediate service. While you’re waiting, do what you can to mitigate water damage.

  • Shut off water at the home’s main shutoff valve, often located in the area around the water meter but on the inside of the house.
  • Remove as much water from the space as possible using mops, rags, towels, buckets, and other materials.
  • Remove belongings in the area that could be damaged by water.

A plumber will fix the burst by removing the damaged piping and installing new pipes to patch this gaping hole in your plumbing supply pipes. The plumber may also be able to help you out with solutions to remove the remaining water.

Assistance for Common Fall Plumbing Problems in Central Indiana

This fall, Mr. Plumber is available to help you solve common plumbing problems like those mentioned above as well as all other issues, even small ones like a jammed garbage disposal. When you need plumbing services, give us a call today.

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