The Blueprint blog

Subscribe Here!


7 Cold-Weather Plumbing Problems That Heat Up Demand for Plumbers

House covered by snow during winter with Plumbing leak problem leak issues from pipe broke and HVAC.Wintertime weather can wreak havoc on residential plumbing systems, causing abrupt issues that require the help of a professional plumber. So, if you’re a plumbing pro, this could be a busy season for you! Here are four quick tips to help you manage a more hectic schedule:

  1. Capture Incoming Calls – If you don’t have someone available to answer the phone every day, you can set up a voicemail system or hire a professional phone answering service.
  2. Prepare for Bad Weather – Stay on top of vehicle maintenance. Stock up on work-related gear and supplies. And arrange for snow and ice removal at your business facility.
  3. Manage Documents with a Mobile App – A high-quality floor plan app will let you instantly create and share plumbing-focused floor plans, estimates and field reports. It’s a great way to increase your productivity so you can take on more jobs.
  4. Stay on Top of Your Schedule – Again, here’s where a mobile app can come in mighty handy. If you use a scheduling app to line up residential jobs, you’ll always know what’s coming up next after each job is completed.

Now let’s look at the cold-weather plumbing problems you are likely to encounter.

1. Nonworking Water Heaters

Cold weather can put a strain on a home’s water heater, causing it to work much harder. That’s especially true if residents take longer, hotter showers and host visiting guests who do the same. Plus, running the household’s dishwasher and washing machine will also add to the strain. All of these events can cause the hot water heater to exert more than it should, and then end up malfunctioning due to overuse.

If you are called upon to help with water-heater failure, the homeowner will be eager for a quick solution. You’ll have to either perform repairs pronto or replace the old unit with a new one.

Nonworking Water Heater in winter in home basement

2. Frozen Exterior Pipes

When the wrath of winter is at its worst, unused outdoor water lines are more prone to freezing and bursting. This can happen with any outdoor tap, water-sprinkler line or swimming pool supply line that has not been properly winterized. As a result, major flooding can damage the home’s foundation and seep into its crawlspace or basement, causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.

3. Frozen Interior Pipes

When a homeowner calls to complain about cracked or dripping pipes in cold weather – or even worse, a burst pipe or a sudden lack of water flow – you have a good idea what’s going on. The problem is probably due to frozen pipes.

Do you find that homeowners often ask how cold pipes freeze?

  1. Tell them that metal is an excellent thermal conductor, which means cold air can freeze water located inside of their pipes.
  2. Explain that water expands when it freezes, causing pipes to become clogged, weakened, and even cracked or broken – which can lead to damaging leaks.
  3. Let them know that older pipes, and any pipes located along exterior walls and in unheated areas, are especially susceptible to freezing. This will help them understand that the best pipes for freezing weather are warm pipes

You also can provide tips for preventing frozen pipes in the future (like advice on what pipes to wrap in cold weather). And make sure they know where their main water shutoff valve is located. The homeowner is sure to appreciate and remember your personable, helpful approach.

4. Damaged Outdoor Drains

Many homeowners have a patio, deck or driveway with a plastic surface drain that is designed to divert away water from rain, melting snow or ice. However, this type of drain is prone to damage during cold-weather months, due to expansion and contraction as temperatures fluctuate. If an outdoor drain fails, there’s only one way to address it: a professional plumber must be called to fix the problem.

house with damager outdoor drain due to cold weather

5. Backed-up Sump Pumps

During the wintertime, sump pumps can operate more frequently whenever snow and ice are melting outside. This may lead to freezing, clogging or mechanical overloading, all of which can cause water damage in low-lying areas of homes (typically, basements and crawlspaces).

6. Debilitated Septic Systems

Septic lines and tanks that are not well protected by adequate soil coverage are in danger of freezing during winter months. This can hamper drainage, break components and cause sewage backups. At that point, only a professional plumber can fix the problem and get the system functioning again as it should.

7. Clogged Kitchen and Bathroom Drains

The kitchen always serves as the heart of every home, but this is especially the case during the month of December. That’s when holiday cooking, family get-togethers and festive celebrations tend to give kitchen sinks and garbage disposals a workout. This means frustrating clogs are more likely to occur, especially when sludgy grease, oil and food scraps are dumped down the drain. Stuff like that can solidify in a cold drain pipe, preventing water from running through properly. Of course, that’s bad news for homeowners. But it’s a boon for your business, because you’ll be the one they call to get their drains back to proper working order.

plumber fixing broken pipe with gloves


And how about bathrooms? When any household is hosting out-of-town guests, bathroom drains can get a workout as well. Hair and soap scum can accumulate faster, ultimately stopping up a sink, tub or shower. That’s the last thing a homeowner wants with a house full of family and friends. And if the homeowner’s own DIY efforts can’t undo the clog, who are they going to call? Yep, you. Because you’re the one with the expert skills who can swoop in to save the day.


Cold weather and plumbing problems often go hand in hand. Yet, homeowners are often caught off-guard when sudden issues arise. That’s when they turn to plumbers like you for quick assistance. So, get ready to jump on those winter jobs to see a boost in your income!

Continue reading our guide on how to plan a plumbing reconfiguration

Or find out why your business should go paperless.