This first day of winter is quickly approaching, and while there are many things to look forward to this time of year, many would prefer to skip the freezing temperatures that often come with the season. Freezing winter temperatures not only make it uncomfortable to go outside or run errands but can also take a toll on your house and its plumbing system, especially the sewer line. Frozen sewer lines create an inconvenience until the problem is fixed. The issue can also cause damage or cause your plumbing system to malfunction entirely. 

At Dash Drains, frozen sewer lines are among the most common problems we see during the winter season. The temperatures can get cold during the winter here in Massachusetts, and failing to take the proper precautions before we’re hit with the freezing conditions could spell disaster for your home’s plumbing system. Fortunately, our experts are here to help. In this blog, we’ll share tips to help you avoid frozen sewer lines.

Understanding Your Sewer Line

If your home is connected to a sewer system, then there is a sewer line bridging the gap between your home’s drains and the main sewer drain. Typically, the line is located underground and is considered to be a part of your home’s plumbing system. When a sewer line freezes due to brutal conditions, water inside the pipe freezes and expands, creating a blockage. When this happens it can have a ripple effect on the plumbing fixtures in your home — it can lead to flooding, foul smells coming from drains, and no running water. Therefore, it is worth taking the necessary precautions before the temperatures drop to prevent your sewer line from freezing.

How to Prevent Sewer Lines From Freezing

In order to ensure that you don’t have to deal with frozen lines this winter, follow these preventative measures:

  1. Insulate Your Pipes 

When sewer pipes are not properly insulated they are at an increased risk of freezing, especially in climates that regularly experience harsh winters with freezing temperatures. Insulating your sewer pipes is a simple and effective method to help keep sewer lines from freezing. Adding
foam insulation can help keep a pipe closer to the temperature of the water inside it. Keep in mind, however, it will not prevent freezing if the pipe is exposed to prolonged freezing temperatures.

1. Keep Your Thermostat Consistent

During the winter it is important to keep your thermostat at a consistent temperature throughout the day and night. While it may be tempting to constantly adjust the thermostat as the temperatures outside fluctuate, the constant circulation of warm air may prevent stressful and costly plumbing issues.

2. Seal Outside Vents

The more cold air that gets into your basement or crawlspace, the higher the risk that the water in your sewer line will freeze. Sealing off the vents in your basement or crawl space will limit the flow of cold outside air around the pipes, thus reducing the chances of the water inside freezing.

3. Check Out Your Water Heater

Your hot water heater helps keep the water flowing through your pipes warm, helping ensure that it doesn’t freeze. However, if something is causing your water heater to malfunction and it is unable to maintain the proper water temperature, the water flowing through your pipes may not be warm enough and end up freezing. During the colder months, it doesn’t hurt to turn your water heater up by a couple of degrees to help prevent freezing.

4. Run Water and Leave Cabinet Doors Open

Constantly flowing water is far less likely to freeze than standing water. When the temperatures outside are particularly cold, let your faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms slowly drip. By having water constantly ‘running,’ you can help slow down the freezing process and stop pressure from building on the pipes. Additionally, open up the bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors to allow warm air to enter and circulate around the non-conditioned plumbing under your faucet and sink.

How To Thaw a Frozen Sewer Line 

Sometimes Mother Nature is unpredictable and can hit us with harsh winter weather conditions and freezing temperatures. When this happens and you find that your sewer line is frozen, you should always call a professional. Many people recommend pouring very hot water down the drain in order to thaw the blockage. However, this DIY method can cause damage to the pipes or cause a build-up of pressure and force the pipe to burst. Rather than risking a disaster, a professional will be able to diagnose where the pipe is frozen and determine the best solutions for quickly and safely thawing it. 

If you ever suspect that you have a frozen sewer line in Boston, Cambridge, or the surrounding area, contact Dash Drains immediately. We use our industry-leading knowledge, equipment, and technology to thaw sewer lines quickly. We also offer 24-hour emergency service, so you can count on our technicians to quickly resolve the issue before it escalates. Contact Dash Drains to learn more about how you can prevent frozen sewer lines this winter.