While most people get their heaters serviced regularly and clean out their gutters before winter strikes, one vital utility can often be overlooked: The frozen sewer line. This is understandable, since the majority of a plumbing system is out of sight.
However, a frozen sewer line is not to be taken lightly. It can cause frustrating sewage backups and even significant damage to the plumbing in your home. The best way to prevent frozen lines is through regular sewer and drain cleaning.
What Causes a Sewer Line to Freeze?
As you might expect, your sewer line can freeze when the temperatures go below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. There is usually at least one other contributing factor, as well, but the temperature alone can be the cause of a frozen line. The complicating factors that can lead to a frozen sewer line include:
- Faulty insulation around your pipes
- A sudden drop in temperature, which is common in the winter months
- Lack of water flow in an exposed drain
- Blocked pipes
- Thermostat or heating malfunction in the home
Just like any other utility in your home, your sewer system needs to be serviced annually. Regular plumbing and drain cleaning can protect you from frozen sewer lines and costly leaks. Early detection of faulty piping is the best way to prevent the need for major repairs.
How Do Pipes Become Blocked?
Pipe blockages are often associated with a sink or a tub not draining as it should. While this is a common result of blocked pipes, they can also increase your risk of a frozen sewer line. Many things can cause obstructions in your pipes and sewer line, but they can be divided into four main categories: Hair, food waste, plant roots, and foreign objects.
People shed hair when they bathe, which accumulates in the drain pipes. You can stop some of this hair from entering your pipes with a screen or barrier, but if it gets through, it will eventually cause a clog. When that happens, you need to have your drains cleaned.
Washing food waste or grease down the sink is a sure way to cause clogged sewer lines. Grease will adhere to the sidewall of a pipe and catch other debris. Save yourself the headache and throw food waste and grease in the trash, where it belongs.
Plants are another potential pipe blocker. Since plants seek out water, they can grow into your pipes and cause cracks. Finding and removing these plants can be nearly impossible to do by yourself. However, professional plumbers have the tools necessary to scope out your drains and remove these pesky obstructions.
While hair and plant-based blockages are mostly out of your control, whether you flush foreign objects is not. As a general rule, you should avoid flushing anything down the toilet other than biological waste and toilet paper. This means that you should not flush paper towels, tissues, or “flushable” baby wipes, as all of these items fail to properly break down in a sewer system.
How Often Do I Need Drain and Sewer Cleaning Services?
Regular plumbing drain service and sewer line cleanings can help to prevent frozen pipes. But exactly how often do you need these services? The recommended time frame for preventative sewer cleaning is every 18 to 22 months. If you are experiencing drainage issues more frequently, there may be a more significant problem that will need to be repaired.
Signs of Frozen Sewer Lines
Following the tips above can help you to prevent frozen sewer lines. While this information can help to protect your pipes, it is not foolproof. That is why it is also important to recognize the signs of a frozen line. Two of the most recognizable clues include strange odors or noises coming from your sewer pipes. Gurgling sounds or foul smells are strong indicators that your pipes are backed up.
If you see water where it should not be, then you may have a frozen or damaged sewer line. Damp ceilings or walls are pretty obvious signs, too. The formation of sinkholes or puddles outside your home should also prompt a call to a professional.
Frost on easily visible pipes, such as those in your basement or underneath a faucet, is another sign of frozen pipes. A lack of water coming out of your faucet is another strong indicator, as well.
How Do I Know If My Sewer Issue is an Emergency?
Any plumbing issue can be frustrating, but not all of them are necessarily an emergency. For example, a faucet that has a very slow drip or a shower that has started to drain a little slower may be able to wait. However, the following items should always be considered to be urgent and prompt a call to a professional:
- No running water
- Failed water heater
- Completely clogged drain
- A sewer backup
- A broken or burst pipe
When in doubt, it is best to have your plumbing system checked out.
What is Emergency Drain Cleaning?
Emergency drain cleaning involves prompt service to clear the blockage of your sewer lines and other pipes. This service can be performed anytime, including after-hours and on the weekends. The sooner your frozen or blocked sewer lines are cleaned, the better the outcome will likely be. Putting it off can subject your home to serious water damage and leave you with a major repair bill.
During the service call, the plumber will identify the source and location of your blockage. They will then remove it and repair any damage that may have occurred to your pipes.
Emergency Drain Service Near Me
If you are experiencing frozen sewer lines or other plumbing emergencies, Superior Plumbing & Drains, LLC, can help. We proudly provide emergency drain cleaning in Charlotte, NC. One of our experienced and courteous plumbers will be available 24/7, 365 days a year for all of your plumbing needs.
Not only do we offer emergency drain cleaning in Charlotte, but we also provide a full array of plumbing repair and installation services. Contact us today and experience our award-winning service.