Winter Plumbing Problems in Missoula Montana

This is the first in a series of Winter plumbing problems and how to handle them. Every winter, certain issues occur more often or are more severe than during the rest of the year.  The first one we’ll look at is burst pipes. Let’s jump right in!

What happens when pipes burst in Missoula Montana?

This can happen because of a few different problems.  Usually, in a climate like Missoula, pipes close to the outermost walls of a home are not as protected from the cold as those further toward the center of the home.  Pipes can start to freeze when the outside temperature is 20 degrees F or below for at least 6 hours.  Frozen water in the pipes can expand and burst seals or burst the pipe itself if it is not in strong condition.   This can happen quickly overnight on outer walls but this can also happen on inner pipes if the temperature is not maintained above freezing for a period of time.  For example, inner pipes can freeze while people are on vacation and the house gets cold or snow-birds who have not properly had their pipes winterized. External forces such as construction or earthquakes can also cause pipes to burst.

What should I do to prevent a burst pipe in my Missoula home?

Simple tricks like draining garden hoses before the first freeze and leaving a faucet running overnight have been handed down through the generations. Thinking through air flow can be a simple thing as well.  This can include keeping your garage doors shut and opening cabinet doors so pipes are exposed to warmer air. But bigger things are vital to preventing a pipe bursting in homes, like having a professional replace aging, rusty pipes and ensure proper insulation.  During vacation or extended periods where a home will be vacant, pipes must be maintained to prevent damage.

How to Tell if You have a Burst Pipe in Western Montana?

The signs of burst pipes can cause your heart to drop as you think about what you may have to deal with.  You can prevent or limit burst pipe damage if you react early to a pipe bursting.  Here is what to look for.

·       Sewage smell.  Usually the sewage pipes keep the smell inside as it makes it way out of your home.  If a sewage pipe bursts, the smell will be pretty unmistakable.

·       Wet patches on your lawn.  If an outside pipe bursts, water leaking under your yard can create puddles or sinkholes on your property.

·       Changes in water pressure.  This can include lower water pressure, increase in pressure or sputtering water coming out of your faucets.

·       Water Spots.  If your walls or ceiling develop water spots, you should move quickly.  If there is a burst pipe in a wall, the water weight can bring down a lot of drywall and mess with your electric lines.

·       Increasing water bills.  If you have a small leak somewhere along your water system, the leak may be accumulating where you cannot notice. For example, a pipe burst in a crawl space  However, your water bill will notice. 

What Should I do if I Have a Burst Pipe in Missoula Montana?

1.       The first thing you should do is turn off the main water line to your home. This will stop any more water from accumulating in your home. 

2.       Turn on all faucets to relieve any more pressure in the pipes in your home. This includes flushing all toilets once.  Start with releasing all the cold water. 

3.       Turn off the hot water heater and then release all hot water from the pipes in your home. 

4.       Clean up any water pooling.  This can prevent mold from growing as well as limit damage to your home.

5.       Take pictures for insurance purposes.

When do I call a professional about a burst pipe in Missoula Montana?

It is important to call a professional as soon as possible.  The sooner you get a professional on site, the more you will be able to limit water damage and prevent the side effects! Water damage can cause a host of large, expensive issues, even including a fire!  Call Garden City Plumbing and Heating at 406-508-1093 for repairs, inspections and preventative maintenance on your pipes.

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