Spring Drain Cleaning: A Necessary Part Of The Change In Seasons

Do you wonder where and why Spring drain cleaning is important? Every change of season calls for adjustments or preparations in your home’s plumbing. Just like before Winter, when you shut off outdoor valves, or disconnect hoses, you also need to prepare for the upcoming Spring. As the cold temperature slowly increases, plumbing fixtures must be checked and adjusted accordingly.  A proper once-through ensures that water fixtures and pipe networks both outside and inside your house function without issues. In many cases, the preparation involves cleaning up the leftover dirt and debris accumulated over the Winter.

Spring plumbing repairs
Winter freeze ups mean Spring fix ups

Spring is always a convenient time to do an overall cleanup. Included in this process should be plumbing parts or drain connections. Ice and snow sent down by the winter can cause some issues. For example clogged drains, water seepage from exterior walls, or even damaged underground pipes. Cold temperature freezes exposed exterior pipes. Shallow exterior pipes can likewise freeze up solid. Winter also creates an accumulation of ice on roofs gutters. Remember that even metal materials become brittle when frozen. As the air slowly gets warmer, the melting ice and snow may reveal damages. Damage can include cracked pipes or leaking roof leaders, which may lead to bigger plumbing issues both inside and outside the house. To avoid the unexpected, take the time and effort to do a proper precautionary spring drain cleaning. Indoor and outdoor plumbing installations must all be checked. Here is a simple to-do list that follow.

Indoor Plumbing Components 

Cold winter takes a toll on the durability and therefore functionality of outdoor plumbing components. While most parts of pipes, hoses, and sprinklers can withstand low temperatures, they are not invulnerable to freezing. A thorough check in all parts is necessary to prevent leaking and clogging issues.

  • Water Heater Inspection:

One of the first things you do in the beginning of winter is to adjust or increase water heater temperature. It is not uncommon that people adjust their water heater to the highest setting to compensate for the cold Winter. When the ambient temperature slowly begins to increase approaching a change of season, you must dial the setting down. Avoiding scalding comes as a first priority, but dialing down the setting is also good for the longevity of the appliance.

  • Sinks:

Water inside the drain pipes (or the p-traps in all water fixtures) can possibly get frozen during the cold weather. This particularly true if you did not Winterize outside pipes and plumbing fixtures. Freezing water expands and it may cause damage to the pipe. Do a simple test by flushing an amount of water and see if it drains quickly. Slow draining is a sign of clogging; it if drains too quickly or much quicker than usual, there can be a leaking point. Repeat the test in all water fixtures inside the house. [box type=”info”] A sink trap exposed to sub freezing temperatures can freeze solid, and split. You will not notice this until you re-activate and actually use the sink. Better to discover this ahead of time, not during a backyard party gathering! [/box]

  • Issues With Toilets:

Although you should notice any issue with a toilet, such as leaking and clogging, during winter anyway. Constant sudden changes of temperature can damage the drain pipe or at least make it more susceptible to damage. This is especially true of toilets exposed the to Winter weather. Toilets and toilet traps hold water all of the time. So if they are not Winterized, toilets can freeze and split. To see if a toilet leaks, drop a dye tablet or some drops of food coloring into the tank; DO NOT FLUSH. In case you see that the water changes color, it’s an indication of a leak. It takes some thorough inspections to figure out the actual culprit, so it is best to call professional to fix the issue.[box type=”info”] Toilets located outdoors in cabanas, or inside Summer homes, are particularly susceptible to damage from freezing during the Winter. If you forgot to Winterize such toilets, be prepared to repair them.[/box]

  • Sump Pump:

Another potential issue with plumbing due to a cold Winter is sump pump damage. To check for problems, pour a bucket or two of water into the sump pump and see if it activates and drains quickly. Slow drainage can be a sign of a bigger problem either in the drain pipe or the pump itself; maybe even both. Once again, repairing a sump pump is a job best left to professionals. Even sump pumps exposed to Winter weather can be damaged beyond repair.

Spring drain cleaning also helps you notice other issues caused by dirt, debris, and organic materials. Such materials cannot flow freely inside the drain pipe along with wastewater during Winter. If not handled immediately, the obstructions will accumulate and become a hardened clog. A sewer pit must be intact, covered, and water tight as well. Remember that most things, including plumbing parts, become brittle when frozen or exposed to low temperatures for prolonged periods. All underground pipes installed higher than the frost line, and exposed uninsulated pipes installed in unheated areas, require visual inspections too. never be foolish enough to assume that only water lines freeze in the Winter; drain lines freeze as well. The Spring is the perfect time to start a new season trouble free by doing a full and thorough check.[box type=”info”]An exposed or neglected sump pump can get clogged with sediment, debris, or frozen solid over the Winter. Clean the access pit, and test out your sump pump before it is needed. A torrential Spring rain, flooded basement, or high water table, are the wrong time to find out your sump pump is broken.[/box]

Outdoor Plumbing Components

With adequate insulation and a proper thermostat setting, chances of plumbing installations getting damaged inside the house are minimal. On the other hand, you do not have control over the temperature outside where plumbing components are exposed to water, snow, and freezing air. So it is necessary to do a Spring drain cleaning as soon as the Winter seems at its end to see if the cold weather has caused damages.

Spring drain cleaning
Repair and clean leaders and gutters before Spring rains occur
  • Downspouts and Gutters:

Ice and snow do make the gutters and downspouts appear more visually pleasing, but not without serious risks. Gutters and downspouts are probably full of dirt and debris during winter because ice blocks the flow of water. Even when the winter is over, there can be some leftovers which lead to clogging. [box type=”info”]Blocked leaders and gutters will split once frozen solid during the Winter. The wrong time to discover this is during a Spring rainstorm. Better to visually inspect all leaders and gutters, and test them with a flow of water.[/box]

  • Sewer cleanouts:

One of the most vulnerable components of your drain system is your sewer cleanout. It is frequently located outside and meant to provide access to your main drain line in case of clogging. Equally susceptible to freezing is the yard drain itself. Make sure they are not frozen or damaged in any way; if you suspect any form of damage, call a professional to repair the problems. Yard drains are where all the debris will accumulate because it is usually installed at a lowest point in the area designated to collect water. Debris build-up must be removed as part of Spring drain cleaning to prevent clogging in your main drain line. [box type=”info”]Opening, visually inspecting, and water testing any outside sewer trap is important. This is especially true if the pit cover was not installed air-tight. Cold Winter air can make an exposed trap freeze solid, and split. Once again, this is most true in Summer homes, and anywhere outside drain systems exist.[/box]

The main purpose of spring drain cleaning is to check for winter damage. Low temperature during winter has all the potentials to create a plumbing havoc on the inside but mostly on the outside components. Since plumbing components in your house are all inter-connected, an isolated damage can turn into widespread issues. Always call a professional for assistance and to address early signs of troubles to avoid costly repairs in the future. Contact the Balkan Drain Team for expert advice, or an on-site visit.