What Causes Pipes To Burst?

Burst pipes can cause a lot of damage to a home, from water damage to flooding to mold, costing a great deal of time, effort and money to clean up. As a homeowner, the last thing you want is to learn a pipe has burst in your home, especially in a place where it goes unnoticed for any amount of time.

Because of this, you will want to take steps to prevent the water pipes in your home from bursting. But what causes a water pipe to burst? From weather changes to physical trauma, there are several reasons your pipes may burst. Here are some of the most common reasons the water pipes in your home may burst.

Freezing Temperatures May Cause Pipe Bursts

Those who have lived in Montana or other cold winter states for any amount of time know that the winters can be beautiful, but very cold. Temperatures can drop below freezing on a regular basis any time during the winter season. When temperatures drop down to or below the freezing level, water that runs through your pipes can also freeze. As more water freezes in a place, it builds up, applying more and more pressure to the area, until the pipe bursts.

The Solution: To prevent pipes from bursting, leave faucets on a light drip, especially for faucets you don’t use often or if you will be away from your home during the winter. This will keep the water moving, preventing it from freezing in one place.

Tree Roots

We tend to think whatever will cause a pipe to burst will take place in the house. However, that is not always the case. As trees grow, their roots may push into other underground entities, such as the pipes outside you home. While trees grow slow, they are strong. The root will often continue to push on the pipe until it cracks.

The Solution: When landscaping, plant trees as far away from pipes and your home as possible.

Pipe Corrosion or Ageing

For older pipes, and especially those made from steel, corrosion can be an issue that may cause a burst somewhere down the line.

The Solution: Corrosion can happen, but to avoid it with steel pipes, consider replacing with copper or plastic versions instead.

High Water Pressure

High water pressure can do long-term damage to your pipes over time, eventually causing them to burst. Whether the pressure was intentionally raised or impairments in the pipe causes the water to speed up, you never want your water pressure to exceed 60 psi; 40 to 45 psi is generally considered optimal. Another consideration to keep in mind: if you have low water pressure throughout the house you may have water pressure buildup elsewhere.

The Solution: Have a plumber assess your water pressure and optimize it for your home.

Clogged Pipes and Drainage

One of the main reasons people fear their pipes may burst is due to clogs. When something clogs your pipes, pressure builds up, and eventually, may become too much for the pipe and crack. From hair to bathroom products, to food or pet waste, many things can cause a pipe to clog.

The Solution: Don’t flush anything down your pipe that should not go there, including cotton swaps, paper towels, kitty litter, hair, “flushable” wipes or diapers. If you suspect a pipe is clogged, call a professional immediately.

Repairing A Pipe Burst

Unfortunately, a burst pipe is a big inconvenience for a homeowner. Not only is water destructive, but it can cause lasting damage and mold growth, as well as damage the belongings in the home. While you can always try to repair a pipe on your own, it is best to contact your local plumbing company to repair the burst pipe in a quick, timely manner.

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