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What causes pipes to burst?


Between 2013 and 2017, homeowners faced more than 10,000 water damage incidents. Burst pipes were a major reason for this, leading to lots of damage and expensive fixes. Even though plumbing can handle high pressure, things like the weather and damage can still make them burst. It’s important to know why pipes burst so we can prevent water damage.

Many things can harm your pipes, like weather changes, too much water pressure, or if your home is old. Even mistakes made during home renovations can cause pipes to burst. It’s crucial for homeowners to understand these issues. This way, they can take steps to prevent water damage before it happens. Staying ahead of burst pipe risks can save a lot of stress and money later on.

Key Takeaways

  • Water damage is the most significant loss homeowners face based on insurance claims.
  • Pipes in unheated areas like attics and garages are at a higher risk of freezing and bursting.
  • Tree roots can invade and rupture underground pipes.
  • Clogs and excessive water pressure are common causes of pipe blockages and bursts.
  • Human error during renovations can lead to accidental pipe damage.
  • Older pipes, especially those over 50 years old, are more prone to bursting due to wear and tear.
  • Improper installation and shifting soil conditions also pose significant risks to the plumbing system.

Freezing Temperatures

Cold winters can be tough on plumbing when the thermometer drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This freezing point can cause water inside pipes to turn into ice. As the ice expands, it puts more pressure on the pipes. This pressure makes them more likely to burst. By knowing how cold weather affects your plumbing and taking steps to prevent it, you can protect your home during winter.

How Freezing Affects Pipes

At temperatures lower than 20 degrees, the water in your pipes can freeze. When water changes to ice, it expands by about 9%. This expansion creates pressure within the pipe. If the pressure gets too high, the pipe can burst. Pipes in areas without heat, such as basements or attics, are at the highest risk. A slow water flow might be the first sign of a problem. This issue can quickly turn into a burst pipe, especially in poorly insulated areas.

Prevention Tips for Freezing

  • Pipe Insulation: Wrapping your pipes in insulation can help keep them from freezing. Fiberglass or foam sleeves are good for this. It’s a simple and affordable way to protect your plumbing.
  • Heat Tape for Pipes: Heat tape is a great tool for preventing freezing. It goes around the pipes and keeps them warm with electricity.
  • Maintain Thermostat Settings: Set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees. This will keep the temperature steady, preventing pipes from freezing.
  • Cold Water Drips: Letting faucets drip can prevent pipes from bursting on extremely cold nights. This keeps water flowing, reducing the chance of ice buildup.
  • Outdoor Precautions: Before winter comes, disconnect and empty your hoses. If you’re leaving for a while, turn off the water main. It stops water leaks from frozen pipes.
  • Regular Monitoring: Check pipes in colder parts of the house often. Finding and fixing freezing issues early can avoid serious damage and costly repairs.

Using these tips effectively will help you prepare for winter and protect your plumbing. They reduce the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting. This can save you from repairs and damage caused by water leaks.

Tree Root Intrusion

Tree root intrusion is a big problem for homeowners. It causes sewer and drainage issues. Tree roots look for water and often grow into underground pipes, causing damage.

Impact of Tree Roots on Pipes

Tree roots can grow seven times longer than the tree itself. They put a lot of pressure on pipes. This pressure can damage the plumbing system. Signs of this include slow drains, sewage backups, and bad smells.

Older pipes made of cast iron or clay are more at risk. It’s important to address this issue quickly. Regular checks and repairs can keep the plumbing working right. In New Jersey, Arrow Sewer & Drain offers these services.

Preventing Tree Root Damage

It’s hard to stop root intrusion completely. But you can lower the risk by cleaning sewers often. Video inspections can find problems early. These might be root blockages or other issues.

Using root barriers and modern pipe materials like PVC can help. Professional plumbers use high-pressure jetting to clear roots. Regular maintenance and inspections are important to prevent damage.

In the Seattle area, get a free video camera inspection. This can help catch problems before they get big. Doing this, along with strategic landscaping and quick repairs, can protect your plumbing from roots.

High Water Pressure

High water pressure can harm plumbing systems, causing leaks and pipe breakage. It’s important to know what causes this and how to handle it. This keeps your plumbing in good shape.

Causes of High Water Pressure

There are many reasons why the water pressure in your home might be high:

  • Problems with the city’s water supply can make the pressure too high.
  • If pressure regulators are not set right or are broken, they can’t control the pressure well.
  • Valves that are shut or things blocking the pipes can also push up the pressure.

High water pressure, over 500 kPa, can harm your home. It can damage your faucets and washing machines. Also, it wears out the pipes and can cause leaks. Plus, a water hammer effect can happen, which is noisy and bad for your pipes.

How to Manage Water Pressure

To keep your water pressure under control, you need to do a few things:

  1. Use pressure regulators to keep the water pressure at a safe level. This can stop pipes from bursting.
  2. Check the pressure often with a special gauge. Early warning signs can save you from big problems.
  3. If you have any doubts, talk to a licensed plumber about your water pressure. They can make sure everything’s working right and safe.

Tackling high water pressure early on can stop major plumbing problems. Keep an eye on pressure regulators and have regular checks. This is key to preventing a lot of water damage.

Clogs and Blockages

Clogs in your plumbing are a big deal. They can cause pipes to block up, build up too much pressure, and even burst. Things like hair, mineral deposits, food bits, and soap build up are often the reasons. If you see your drains slowing down, it’s a warning sign. It’s good to clean your drains often to keep water flowing freely. This prevents big problems like floods or overflows that can damage your home.

To avoid clogs, practice good habits. Use drain covers to stop trash from going down the drain. Also, don’t forget about professional cleanings. Plumbers know how to tackle hard clogs and keep your pipes running smoothly.

Ignoring clogs can build up pressure that damages your pipes. It’s important for homeowners to stay on top of maintenance. Check your pipes often and get professionals to help when needed. This care and quick response to slow drains can stop major plumbing issues before they start.

Age and Corrosion of Pipes

As pipes get older, they face more problems like corrosion and getting weak. Especially in pipes over 50, these issues stand out. The older materials are not as strong as the new ones. This makes them more likely to break or leak.

Signs of Aging and Corrosion

Finding the signs of old and rusty pipes is important. Look for changes in the pipe’s color or shape. If the water looks brown, it might have rust. This is from the pipes reacting with water or soil over time, making them weaker.

Replacing Old Pipes

To keep the plumbing working well, it’s key to change old pipes. Use newer materials like copper or PVC for better results. Checking and fixing pipes early stops problems like leaks before they happen. Old pipes are more likely to break because they are more fragile. Replacing them before this can save a lot of trouble.

Fixing old and rusty pipes early stops big plumbing issues. It also keeps your home safe from water damage. Issues like changes in water pressure or roots getting into the pipes point to the need for regular checks and fixing old pipes quickly.

Accidental Damage During Renovations

Keeping pipes safe during renovations is crucial for a home’s plumbing. Many DIY enthusiasts don’t think about the danger to their pipes. From 2013 to 2017, more than 10,000 homeowners faced water damage. This shows how necessary it is to be careful and prevent accidents during renovations.

Pipe damage can happen if they are hit during construction or if a heavy item pulls on them. To avoid these issues, homeowners should plan well. They should know where their pipes are and even get help from professionals to check them properly.

When doing home projects, it’s key to protect your pipes. Don’t put too much weight on them, and be careful with strong water pressure. It’s smart to keep water pressure between 50 and 80 PSI. This can stop pipes from leaking or bursting.

It’s also a good idea to call on experts like Cleaning & Restoration Specialist, Inc. for help. They offer checks and can fix problems quickly. Using products like Pipe Guard and Foam Closet Spacers help keep pipes safe during work. These steps can stop big issues and keep the plumbing in good shape.

Protecting your pipes means planning well, getting expert advice, and using the right tools. Homeowners should learn about the dangers to their plumbing and act to stop accidents. This way, their plumbing can last long and work well.


Preventing burst pipes is key to keeping a home safe. Pipes can last up to 20 years. So, knowing what can hurt them is vital. Cold weather, high water pressure, and ground movements can all make pipes break. Corrosion and clogs also play a part.

Bad weather can be tough on pipes. When it’s cold, water inside the pipes can freeze and expand. This puts pressure on the pipewalls. Earth movements from quakes or a home’s foundation shifting can also harm them.

It’s critical to regularly check and care for your pipes. Look out for signs of wear, especially on copper pipes. A pro plumber can do a deep check to find issues early. This can stop big problems later. Also, keeping water pressure right by using regulators is a smart move.

Stop problems before they start. Insulate pipes against cold and clear clogs often. And if something bad happens, fast plumbing help is a lifesaver. By being proactive and careful, you can lower the chance of pipe bursts. This keeps your plumbing strong and your home safe.

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