Why Do Pipes Burst? Causes And Tips To Prevent It From Happening | Kidadl


Why Do Pipes Burst? Causes And Tips To Prevent It From Happening

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Pipe bursting is a common occurrence in many households, especially ones that are in colder environments.

Heavy water pressure on the internal surface of the pipe is what causes it to burst. Apart from extreme and cold weather, other causes that lead to pipes bursting are encroachment of tree roots and corrosion.

Sometimes, there is too much water pressure and sometimes there may be clogs causing this pressure. If a water pipe bursts in a household, certain tricks can be employed to limit the damage. The very first step should be cutting off the water supply from the mains. The water spilled should be cleaned up immediately and also, the toilets should be flushed and drained. Faucets should also be drained. Other direct and temporary fixes include using seal tape, a block of wood, or rubber to plug the hole itself. These are not permanent and you should call a plumber immediately to fix the problem.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about why do cells divide or why do your ears pop here on Kidadl.

What causes pipes to burst?

Pipes can burst for a number of reasons, ranging from environmental changes to the weather to physical damage.

Pipes may burst in cold weather because the water inside them may freeze. If the temperature drops down below 32 F (0 C), the water freezes and forms blocks of ice. The movement of these frozen blocks causes the pipe to burst. Freezing temperatures do not just cause the water to freeze, but also to expand and explode.

Another reason may be something called tree root encroachment. As trees become bigger, a number of their roots spread further inside the soil. These roots sometimes encroach on underground pipes, causing them to burst. Pipes also sometimes burst due to corrosion, especially the steel ones. This usually happens with older pipes as they are narrow and corroded, meaning they slowly burst.

Another reason is soil shifting. Sometimes the soil around pipes shifts during activities like construction, causing them to burst. High water pressure is another thing that may cause pipes to burst. Most homes maintain a water pressure of 40-45 psi (2.8-3.1 bar) and water pressure of more than 60 psi (4.1 bar) may cause pipes to burst. Yet another cause is clogging in pipes. If your water pipe has a clog, undue pressure builds up which will eventually be too much to be withstood by the pipe.

Why do pipes burst in cold places?

Bursting of pipes is more frequent in places with extremely cold and freezing weather. This is simply because of the cold temperatures that cause the water to freeze, which leads to the frozen ice pushing out the water towards the faucet.

The pressure builds between the faucet and the frozen blocks of ice. The pressure gets too much for the pipe to handle and it eventually bursts. The rupture or puncture happens in pipes where there is no or little ice. The more a pipe is exposed to freezing temperatures in the winter, the more susceptible it is to pressure buildup and bursting. Uninsulated pipes and indoor pipes in unheated areas like crawl spaces, basements, and attics are more prone to damage. A lot of pipe breakage occurs in basements that then get flooded.

A pipe burst due to freezing water

What to do when pipes burst?

Homeowners should have some basic knowledge about what to do when their pipes burst. Apart from actual repairs, homeowners can do some things on their own without much knowledge of plumbing or pipes. These are quick fixes to save your items from the water. These methods should be implemented before plumbers make it to your home.

The first thing to do is to turn off the main water supply. No new water should enter the pipe system after it bursts. The water that is already in the system is manageable. You should wait for plumbers to give you the OK for turning the water back on.

The most logical thing is to call the plumber for an answer. This should be done as quickly as possible since it may take some time for a plumber to get to your home. The plumber is a professional who can diagnose the issue, come up with solutions, and fix the problem. Also, preventive maintenance is important, so be sure to have routine plumbing checks throughout any given year.

After a pipe burst, be sure to clean up the water. Any water from the burst pipe should be cleared away so that there isn't any more water damage. A little damage is unavoidable but the quick cleaning away of the water means little damage to your many possessions. A quick cleanup also means that mildew and mold won't grow anywhere in your house. The longer you go without cleaning up the water, the more likely it becomes that such substances will grow, so clean and dry any wet areas quickly.

Another thing to do after a pipe bursts in your home is to drain the faucets. Draining the faucets will get rid of the water left in your plumbing system. Removing water eases the pressure on the pipes and prevents further leaks. Flush your toilets many times to remove the water from them. Begin with cold water and then move on to hot water. Also, be sure that your water heater or boiler is off while draining.

Warm air should be let in. Frozen pipes won't damage further if you do this. Increase the heating inside the home. You can even use a hair-dryer for warming the pipes. This can be slow but it does heat up the pipes. Also, to circulate warmer air, you can keep your doors open. Rooms that happen to have exposed pipes require a greater amount of air to keep the pipes dry. The water dries faster if the air is warmer.

Homeowners can also utilize a repair sleeve to fix a pipe temporarily. Simply put the sleeve on the hole or break to cover it. For at least a short time, the water will stop flowing from the pipe. You may even be able to use some hot water in your home. Sleeves are not a fix, however, and you should contact a local plumber immediately.

You can also use things like a clamp, a piece of wood, or rubber as a short-term fix. Simply cover the hole with a block of wood, place a rubber piece, or just clamp it all. This method lasts for a short while and keeps the water inside the pipe.

How to prevent pipes from bursting?

To prevent pipes from bursting, you can always be mindful of the plumbing system and changes in temperatures around the pipe. Routine checks for leaks can also be performed. Other things that can be done to prevent a burst water pipe are as follows.

You can keep your water faucets running. If the weather is especially cold, then keep a faucet or two running very slowly. Most pipes burst in freezing and extreme temperatures and this can help regulate the temperate inside them. Extra insulation for the pipes should be arranged to prevent them from freezing. Another way is pipe replacement to counter future corrosion.

There are certain areas of your house that may be colder than the other. Be sure to direct some warm air to the colder areas of your house to prevent frozen pipes. Usually, frozen pipes burst near a window or an outside wall, so don't neglect these areas. Begin with your basement area and go looking for pipes closer to the exterior wall.

Another small plumbing hack is to leave the doors of your cabinet open. The kitchen sink is usually attached to an outside wall, so open cabinet doors to allow the warm air in. You should disconnect your outside faucet from the hose. If the hose is still connected, then the water cannot drain out the hose bib. This will freeze the water inside and the hose will break. Something called heat tape can be installed to warm pipes up and provide insulation during the winter. Also, be sure to seal the air leaks that enable cold air to enter your house. Look for these leaks close to electrical wiring, pipes, and dry vents. Insulation or caulk can be used to keep out the cold. A tiny opening in the severe cold can allow enough air in to cause a freeze in the water pipe.

Also, keep your house temperatures above 32 F (0 C), especially close to the water pipelines to make sure that not even a small amount of water freezes. In any case of burst water pipes, be sure to contact a local plumber, be it for repair or preventive maintenance.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do pipes burst then why not take a look at why do boats float or why do people dance.

Written By
Dhruvit Patel

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