Why Do Pipes Burst – And How Can You Prevent it?

During the colder months, your property – at home or work – will go through some challenges due to the drop in temperatures. Pipes and water are a big issue and unlike much of your property, when you have a problem with your water works, it can be catastrophic.

Water in a property is a real worry and it can cause a lot of damage, so it pays to know and understand how to keep them working well and give them the best chance to stay in a good condition.

Burst pipes are nearly always avoidable, with a few exceptions, so read on and get to grips with those silent but essential veins in your property.

There are four main causes to a burst pipe. These are:

  • Frozen pipes
  • Moving pipes
  • Water pressure
  • Corrosion

Understanding these four main areas will go a long way to protecting your pipes from issues, so let’s go into them in more detail, explain why they’re a cause of problems, and explore what preventative actions you can take.

 

Frozen Pipes

The obvious issue is the temperature change and you’re most likely aware of this threat to your pipes.

But why does the cold weather cause pipes to burst? Well, it all comes down to science.

Although a lot of nature actually shrinks in the cold, ice naturally has more volume than water and of course when water freezes this means it takes on a larger shape and requires more room. When water freezes it expands, and when the water is inside the pipe, it increases the pressure – which can lead to cracks and then leaks when the water defrosts.

Preventing frozen pipes:

  • Allow some water to flow by opening your faucets – this will stop ice forming as the water is continually moving, not sitting.
  • Insulate your pipes – outside pipes need a winter coat, or isolate them and drain them entirely.
  • Allow warm air to circulate – opening cupboards and doors to raise the temperature just a few degrees can really help.

 

Moving Pipes

Quite clearly, pipes are best left alone as movement can affect their joints and joins and the junctions that will have been put in place to allow them to navigate around your property. Movements in pipes can give your joints just enough room to crack and shift the fitting and this is clearly not ideal.

Preventing moving pipes:

  • Secure any lose fixtures – if your pipe fittings on the walls are loose, tighten or replace them.
  • Listen for ‘water hammer’ – water hammer is the noise your pipes make as they bang on the wall when you turn off your water. This is a tell-tale sign that you need to find a loose bracket and fix it.

 

Water Pressure

The pressure that goes through your pipes will put a lot of strain on them should it increase for any reason. This can happen during big thaws in the main sewer lines, for example. In your property it’s not that common to experience it in the main water supply, but it’s worth knowing the tell-tale signs.

Water pressure signs:

  • Check your pressure – a water pressure gauge can be fitted to your sink spout. A reading of over 60 psi is your warning sign for too much pressure.
  • Look for other signs – maybe your taps and hoses are unusually more powerful.

Corrosion

Pipes should last a very long time but as with everything, there will be a time when they need to be replaced. Water flowing through pipes will rarely cause corrosion, but a change in the PH level can, over time, cause them to corrode and that will lead to issues like rust.

This is tough to spot, but older pipes can show signs of leaks and corrosion with a telling green water mark running down the pipes – and of course rust on the joints may indicate you have an issue.

The best advice here is to have an expert check over your pipes as moving them and poking about can often cause problems that you don’t already have.

 

Call the experts

Concerned that your Colorado property isn’t winter ready? Why not book an inspection now and put your mind at ease? We can cover all areas of your plumbing from taps to septic tanks. Contact us right now.