Every October, you’ll find homeowners in areas that experience cold winters making the rounds of their homes, detaching hoses, and shutting off valves that allow water to flow to outside faucets. They check insulation for pipes that run through garages or along the inside of exterior walls. When the forecast includes extreme cold, as in the recent instances of a polar vortex dipping into the Midwest, homeowners may leave faucets dripping slightly all night, to keep water moving through pipes to avoid freezing. The annual ritual of taking steps to prevent frozen pipes doesn’t happen everywhere, and burst pipes are only one symptom of how seasonal changes affect your plumbing.
Water expands when it freezes, but pipes expand when they’re hot. Even if the temperature change is gradual, underground pipes that cycle through cold and heat can develop cracks. Soil and debris can leach into the cracks, causing backups and clogs.
Precipitation and Pressure
Pipes get a workout during the summer, with sprinklers, garden hoses, and extra showers placing stress on the water delivery system. High demand for water stresses pipes, making them more susceptible to problems. During times of drought, dry soil may shrink and settle. When the drought breaks and heavy rain replaces burning sun, the rain saturates the soil, increasing soil pressure on buried pipes. This pressure can cause pipes to shift, sag, crack, or even break.
Although most residential plumbing systems have…