Dealing with Frozen Outdoor Drains

Dealing with Frozen Outdoor Drains
March 16 05:30 2016

With the winter months coming up soon, there are some important things to keep in mind when considering outdoor drainage installation and maintenance. Depending on the material the drain is made of, outdoor drains can be damaged by extreme weather, ultimately requiring the replacement of the drainage system. In addition, frozen outdoor drains can create a safety hazard, so it’s also important that you keep your outdoor drains clear of ice and other debris. When it comes to dealing with frozen outdoor drains, there are some drain designs that are particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of the weather.

Frozen Plastic Surface Drains Are All Cracked Up


Plastic Drains Can Crack During Winter

As you may remember from science class, all materials undergo expansion and contraction with changes in the temperature. Typically, water being the weird exception, compounds, metals, plastics and every other material you can think of contracts (gets smaller) when subjected to cold and freezing temperatures. They expand when they are heated up. This continuous expansion and contraction causes the material to get weaker over time.

The strength of a material is partially measured by its resistance to this process. According to, plastics and other similar polymers are especially susceptible to expansion and contraction. Because of the low tolerance to cold weather, frozen outdoor drains made of plastic that are exposed to cold weather begin to break and crack and ultimately require

replacement. Further, warns that the “higher expansion coefficients for plastic materials makes plastic pipes and tubes extremely sensitive to temperature changes. Always pay attention to plastic pipes and tubes when temperature varies.”

Frozen outdoor drains made of plastic have even been known to break within the first cold winter season after installation. If ice builds up inside the drain, the expansion of the ice in combination with the contraction of the plastic can split and crack the material with ease.

Frozen Outdoor Drains Made of Metal Less Likely to Break


According to, metal, particular galvanized steel, tolerates cold weather and the expansion and contraction that it causes extremely well. Metal surface drains are therefore much less likely to break and are strong enough to withstand any buildup of ice in and around the drain. With a metal drain, you won’t have to worry about having to replace your drain after just few cold winters.

What to Do If You have Frozen Outdoor Drains

In addition to resisting the damaging effects of cold weather, metal drains are more easily cleared of ice. No matter what material it is made of, sometimes a drain is going to freeze and require that you clear it in order to prevent it from becoming a safety hazard.

The best way to clear up ice in your outdoor drain is to run hot salt water or water mixed with a deicing chemical through frozen outdoor drains.

If there is a lot of ice, though, you may need to use more extreme measures. You can use a brush torch, a small hand-held torch, to break up the larger pieces of ice and clear the rest out with salt water or a deicing agent. This method should be able to remove even the most stubborn ice in the coldest of conditions.

LTEC Metal Surface Drains

Made of high quality galvanized steel,  LTEC  Metal Surface Drains are a great choice for use in all weather conditions. If you are worried about frozen outdoor drains, the metal construction of LTEC Trench Drains is resistant to breaking due to ice buildup and the natural expansion and contraction process. Designed to contend with the ever changing weather conditions around the  Lake  Tahoe  region, LTEC Drains will be a dependable, and rugged addition to your outdoor drainage system. Come check out our drainage systems today!

LTEC Surface Drains, Inc.

Lake Tahoe, California

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