Burst Pipes in Winter- Why do Pipes Burst and What To Do When A Pipe Bursts

burst pipes in winter

A burst pipe can cause serious flooding and damage to your home or business. But what causes pipes to burst? Can pipes bursting be prevented? What to do if your pipes burst? Let’s tackle these questions right now!

Why do Pipes Burst?

Let’s cover why do pipes burst in the first place. There are a few key reasons that can cause this. These include:

  • Loose pipes
  • Frozen water
  • High Pressure

Loose Pipes

Loose pipes tend to move around when the water is suddenly turned on. If you hear pipes clanging against each other when you turn your water on, it means they are not secured in place. Over time, this can cause the seals and joints of the pipes to weaken and lead to the pipes bursting and flooding your home or business.

Frozen Water

Because metal retains temperature longer, when the temperature outside drops, this can cause your pipes to freeze. How likely this is to occur, depends on the insulation inside your home. Locations that experience less severe winters, will most likely have less insulation that protects your pipes from freezing in the winter months. So if an unexpected cold front comes through, the likelihood of your pipes freezing and bursting, increases.
As water in your pipes freezes, it expands which creates pressure and can cause your pipes to burst. How can you tell if your pipes are frozen? If the water in your faucet seems to trickle out instead of flow in a stream, this is one of the signs that your pipes may be frozen.

Water Pressure

When the water pressure in your pipes builds and becomes too high, this can cause your pipes to burst. This can be the effect of a clogged pipe. With a restricted water flow, the pressure builds which can eventually lead to a pipe cracking.
There’s a couple ways you can test your water pressure:

Turn on one of the water faucets in your home and let the water run for a minute. Leaving that faucet running, turn on a different one and check if the water pressure in the first faucets drops. If the water pressure drops, you may be facing a clogged pipe or a pipe leak.
Another way to test your water is by attaching a pressure gauge to an outside water faucet. The gauge will give you a pressure reading. If your reading is higher than 60PSI it might be a good idea to call a professional plumber.

How to Prevent Pipes Bursting

Though burst pipes are not that uncommon, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of coming across this problem:

  1. One of the steps you should take is to invest in proper insulation. Pipes that are most exposed to the outside temperatures are usually located in places like your garage, the basement or the attic. Don’t forget to insulate the area around your water heater as well.
  2. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Strange noises coming from your pipes, irregular water pressure or clogged drains, may seem trivial but can all lead to a much more serious problem.
  3. Have your house inspected for any leaks which can eventually lead to pipes bursting, especially during the cooler winter months.
  4. During those cold months, disconnect your garden hose from your outside water spigot. This will prevent the water from freezing in your water hose, which can lead to pressure building up in your pipes and causing one of those pipes to burst.

What to do When a Pipe Bursts

burst pipes in winterA burst pipe can cause severe water damage so it’s important to take action and call a plumber as soon as possible. Here at VIP Drain Services, we are available 24/7 for any plumbing emergencies, and for your protection we are fully insured and have a staff made up of licensed and experienced technicians.
While you wait for the professionals to arrive, only if it is safe to do so, make sure all electrical appliances near the area of the flooding are turned off. This includes ceiling fans and any light fixtures. Next, stop the water flow by switch your water supply completely off. Drain the remaining cold water from your faucets and then proceed to turn of your boiler and heater.
If possible, locate the pipe that has burst, document and take clear pictures of the damage. This will come in handy, should you decide to file a claim with your insurance company.

A burst pipe can be a real headache and can cause severe water damage to your home and valuables. Taking proactive steps and practising good maintenance habits is important in preventing damage to your plumbing system.

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