You may be able to live with a leak for a few days, but a burst pipe? That’s a whole different ball game. Leaving burst pipes unattended can result in water building up in your ceilings and walls, causing structural damage and collecting dangerous mildew and mold. The oversight could also generate a massive water supply bill, as well as the horrifying event of water cascading down and drowning everything in your basement.

burst pipe causes

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In a nutshell, it’s impossible to live with burst pipes, which is why you should identify the common causes of bursting and take steps to improve water pipe health. All of this starts with knowing the tell-tale signs and causes of a burst pipe, which is what we want to focus on in this article.

Signs of a Burst Pipe

When it comes to water pipes, it’s best to stay alert and look for warning signs that indicate a potential burst:

  1. If the water pressure in the house is fluctuating on a regular basis, it means something is fishy.
  2. If any tap in the house is releasing water that is murky or brownish, it is an indication of a rusty pipe.
  3. The smell of rotten eggs in the water or around a pipe means that sewage is leaking out. Get this fixed before it creates a huge mess.
  4. Water puddles under sinks or damp carpets are a clear sign of cracks or loose joints.
  5. If the pipes are making a clanging or grinding noise, there might be water pressure building.
  6. A dramatic spike in your water bill is a clear sign of leaking water that should be investigated immediately.

What Causes Bursting?

There are many culprits behind a bursting pipe. We have highlighted some of the most common causes:

Freezing Weather

If you live in a region that gets very cold during winters, the pipes in your house might burst. When temperatures drop below 20° F, the water running in your pipes is in danger of freezing.

Areas that are prone to brutal winters usually have better insulation to protect pipes from bursting, but this is not only needed in the coldest of places. Even areas that are typically warmer might have a cold spell that could jeopardize pipes. If you live somewhere that typically enjoys temperate weather, the pipes in your area might not be insulated well enough. In this case, they could burst during a rare cold spell.

Old Pipe Work

Pipes, just like any other material, are built to last for a limited period. Be it plastic or metal, old pipe work will give in to both external and internal pressures. Old pipes can burst despite regular service and maintenance, which is something every homeowner must account for. Engineers estimate that pipes can be in good shape for 20 years after manufacture, but after this point, they could begin breaking down. Metal pipes can rust and corrode while plastic can get brittle or snap.

Clogging

A clogged pipe is bound to burst at any point. If you are aware of such a pipe in the house, it is better to deal with the clogging before the pipe bursts. Clogs inside the pipes can be caused by the accumulation of mineral deposits or any other material. Outdoor pipework can get clogged by leaves and branches as well.

Massive clogs stop the water from flowing freely, and when water pressure builds up around the clog, it bursts the pipe. In less serious cases, you can experience leakage or cracked pipe situation.

Water Pressure

Water has a powerful force, and its pressure is enough to split open a regular pipe. Water pipes in buildings can receive a controlled volume of water, which is usually specified by the pipe’s manufacturer. If water forces its way through a narrow pipeline at too great a force, the pipe will burst. Excessive pressure surpasses the pipe’s ability to stay firm and ruptures it.

Besides water volume, hard water can deposit minerals into your water pipes. Gradually, these minerals can accumulate and cause bursts in the pipes. As the water needs to flow faster to push past blockages and clogs, pressure can become high, and pipes can begin to give way.

Tree Roots

As trees grow older, their roots seep deep into the ground. These roots keep moving until they come in contact with other underground elements like pipes. Tree roots keep inserting pressure on the pipe’s surface until it cracks and the pipe bursts.

Although there is not much you can do to avoid this situation, it is recommended that you plant new trees away from pipework. You cannot control the growth of an existing tree, but you can take steps to prevent this interference in the first place.

Prevention Tips

Bursting pipes can spell big trouble for homeowners, but they can often be prevented. Here are a few tips:

  • If the weather is very cold, keep one or two faucets running at a slow drip to avoid water from freezing in the pipes outside.
  • If your kitchen sink is attached to an outside wall like most houses, make sure you open the cabinets for a little while to direct warm air to the pipes.
  • There is a thing called heat tape which prevents pipes from intense cooling temperatures. Talk with a plumber about choosing the best type of heat tape.
  • Look out for cracks or fractures in pipework that can burst in the future.
  • Replace old pipes with new ones at your earliest.
  • Check pipes for clogs once every month to ensure that water is running smoothly.
  • Work with an expert plumbing service and defer to them for all your service calls. That way, you’ll have someone who knows the history and fixtures around your house and can pick up on problems quickly.

The Disaster Company specializes in Utah flood clean up for both residential and commercial properties. If you do end up having trouble with burst pipes, our experienced disaster restoration team can respond to your needs, visit your home to evaluate the damage, and start the repair process right away. Contact us today to learn more about how we can repair burst pipes and help get your home back on track.