Northern California winters are kind of a unique thing, if you ask me. The vast majority of us in our area don’t really live up in the mountains. No, we tend to live down in cities like Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Vacaville, or somewhere in between. That means we don’t get all that much frost and we never get snow. Instead, what we get are fairly cold—and very rainy—winters, the sort that make our ground soft and, to be blunt, can cause some serious problems for our plumbing and sewer lines.
Now, in other parts of the country, folks have to worry about things like having their pipes freeze or bust, but here we have a whole different set of problems. That’s why I want to talk about the 411 on preparing your plumbing for winter in Northern California. It may not be as urgent as it is for homeowners who face down the risk of a freeze in North Dakota or Alaska, but it’s still really important.
Take it from me as a professional plumber, doing your due diligence and preparing your plumbing for winter in Sacramento and around Northern California is vital when it comes to avoiding things like sewage backups, ruptured pipes, and other hassles. With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the risks you run if you skimp out on your pipe preparations. I know seasonal maintenance can sometimes be easy to forget, but if you know what can happen, it’ll help you realize how important maintenance can be.
Preparing Your Plumbing for Winter in Northern California to Avoid Sewage Backups
We’ve talked about fall plumbing maintenance tips in the past, and, to be sure, there’s some overlap involved here. If you’ll recall, one of my top tips for fall was to snake your sewer line. This bears going over again, this time in the context of what can happen if you don’t—i.e. A nasty sewage backup. Snaking your pipes, or having a professional plumber take care of it for you, is, simply put the single best thing you can do when it comes to preparing your plumbing for winter in Northern California.
The reason is, in our area there’s a good chance of your sewer line backing up when it rains. Heavy rain frequently causes leaves, branches, and dirt to fall into drains already overworked from excess water. Overworked municipal drains mean water from public sewers can then flood your pipes, carrying with it the aforementioned materials from above, which then go on to create clogs that cause backups.
Many homeowners are unaware that they are responsible for this sewer line, not the city.
One early sign that a blockage is building up is a gurgling noise coming from your toilet, sink, or shower. If you suspect sewage is about to back up into your home, I highly recommend calling a plumber, since it can obviously carry with it health risks. We also recommend that you have your main sewer line inspected yearly. Many homeowners are unaware that they are responsible for this sewer line, not the city.
The Risk of Ruptured Pipes If You Don’t Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter
A close cousin to sewage backups is ruptured pipes, which is why it’s the next risk we’re discussing here today when it comes to preparing your plumbing for winter in Northern California. This is a risk shared by folks who live in really, truly cold locations during the winter, but for different reasons. In places like Fargo, Chicago, or Buffalo, homeowners run the risk of having excess water in pipes freeze, which then leads to a rupture. Here, the cause is different—but the nasty aftermath is the same.
What happens in Northern California is that the extra rain we get in winter starts to make the ground much softer; so soft, in fact, that the roots and rocks and other things underground can shift around, potentially causing cracks in one of your pipes. That can lead to flooding in your yard (even once the rain has stopped) and hard-to-detect leaks that end up raising your water bill without you knowing about it for weeks on end.
If you’re worried about your yard and your pipes suffering something like this, it’s a good idea to call a professional plumber who can give your plumbing and main sewer line a full inspection before the rain arrives.
How to Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter in Northern California
Now that you know the two most pressing threats when it comes to preparing your plumbing for winter in Northern California, we can start to talk a little bit more about what you can do to brace yourself and be ready. Like many of our other precaution pieces, the answer here is pretty simple: it’s really best to call a professional.
…the answer here is pretty simple: it’s really best to call a professional.
Yessir, getting your plumbing inspected before the rain arrives by a trained professional plumber is a great move for a couple of reasons. First, you can rest assured that your pipes are clean and that there aren’t any nasty clogs building up and waiting to cause a backup once the rain gets here. Second, you can have them inspect the sewer pipes in your yard to ensure they are at minimal risk for a break. Basically, you can have a plumber come out to mitigate the chances of the rain bringing you a nasty plumbing problem surprise.
So, there you have it. When your home is properly prepared for winter, it can actually feel a bit refreshing. As everyone knows, we’ve had our fair share of drought and even rainless winters in recent years. We need water, and it’s nice when it comes down—provided your home is ready.
Here at Bell Brothers, we’re more than happy to help you with preparing your plumbing for winter efforts. We can inspect your pipes, help with any clogs, and just generally make sure that everything is in tip-top shape for all that rain. Then, you can just sit back on the couch and enjoy the sound of it all coming down!
At Bell Brothers, our trained plumbing professionals would be happy to help you with preparing your plumbing for winter in Northern California. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.
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Image courtesy Mashiki