Winter brings with it a picturesque landscape of snow-covered streets, cozy evenings by the fireplace, and the joys of hot chocolate. However, amidst the serene beauty lies a lurking threat to our homes: burst pipes.
In fact, in 2017, there were approximately 1,600 burst pipe incidents every single day!
Few things can shatter the tranquility of winter, like the sudden eruption of a burst pipe, flooding our living spaces and causing significant damage. According to data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), leaking or bursting pipes are responsible for more than $1 billion of damage to homes annually.
So are you wondering, “Why do water pipes sometimes burst in the winter?” or “What causes pipes to burst?” Don’t worry.
We’re here to help.
In this blog post, we will delve into the world of burst pipes, uncovering why water pipes sometimes burst in the winter. We’ll also explore what causes pipes to burst and these incidents and, most importantly, learn how to prevent water pipe bursts.
Whether you’re a homeowner, a tenant, or just someone curious about the inner workings of plumbing, our friendly and informative approach will guide you through the ins and outs of pipes bursting in the house.
So, put on your metaphorical detective hat, grab a warm beverage of your choice, and let’s explore.
What are Burst Pipes?
Burst pipes are a plumbing nightmare that can occur when water freezes inside a pipe and expands, causing the pipe to rupture or burst.
Does water expand when it freezes? Pipes are typically designed to withstand the pressure of flowing water, but when water freezes, it expands by approximately 9%. Wondering, “Why does water expand when it freezes?” So the water expansion puts tremendous stress on the walls of the pipe, leading to cracks, fractures, or complete bursts.
A pipe burst releases substantial water into the surrounding area, resulting in flooding and potential water damage to your home or property. Burst pipes can cause significant disruptions, from disrupting water supply to damaging walls, floors, electrical systems, and personal belongings. The extent of the damage depends on the size and location of the burst and the duration it goes unnoticed.
While burst pipes can happen at any time of the year, they are particularly common during the winters when temperatures drop below freezing.
Why do pipes burst in the winter?
Wondering, “Why do pipes burst in the winter?”
Pipes tend to burst in the winter primarily due to the phenomenon of freezing and expanding water. When the temperatures drop below freezing point, the water inside the water pipes can freeze, leading to a significant increase in volume. This expansion creates immense pressure within the pipe, ultimately causing it to burst.
Several factors contribute to the increased risk of burst pipes during the winter season:
When the ambient temperature drops below 32°F (0°C), the water inside unprotected pipes can freeze. Freezing temperatures can cause water inside your pipes to freeze and expand, causing them to break apart at weak points in their structure.
If your home has inadequate insulation or no insulation at all, then it’s possible for water inside your pipes to freeze without any warning signs before bursting out of their sides or tops. This can happen even when temperatures aren’t extremely cold outside!
Exposed or Exterior Pipes
Exposed or exterior pipes are one of the biggest reasons why water pipes sometimes burst in the winter. Many homeowners are unaware of this, but water freezes inside pipes when the temperature drops. When this happens, it expands and can cause cracks and breaks in your pipes.
Water Supply Lines
Water supply lines are another common reason for pipe bursts during winter. Water supply lines carry cold water into your home from outside sources like a well or from underground sources such as lakes and rivers. If these pipes become frozen, they will crack and break from the pressure of expanding ice. This can cause leaks or flooding in your home!
Rapid Temperature Fluctuations
Drastic fluctuations in temperature, such as a sudden drop after a period of warmth, can catch pipes off guard. The rapid change can cause the water inside the pipes to freeze rapidly, increasing the chances of bursting.
What are the telltale signs of burst pipes?
If you’ve ever experienced a burst pipe, you know how devastating it can be. It can ruin your carpet, drywall, and furniture and cause extensive water damage to your home.
If you want to avoid this problem in the future, here are the six telltale signs of burst pipes that you need to watch out for:
If there is water leakage coming from your walls or ceilings, this could be a sign that there is a problem with your pipes. If you see any kind of leakage, you should call a professional water line replacement plumber in Metro Detroit immediately.
Damp or Discolored Walls and Ceilings
If your walls and ceilings are damp or discolored, this could indicate something wrong with your plumbing system. Burst pipes behind walls or above ceilings can cause moisture to seep through, resulting in damp patches, water stains, or discoloration. Pay attention to any unusual changes in the appearance of your walls and ceilings.
Reduced Water Pressure or No Water Flow
If you notice that your water pressure is low or nonexistent when using certain faucets, this could mean that there is a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. If it happens at only one faucet, it’s likely clogged with sediment from mineral deposits or scale from hard water. It could also mean that there’s something stuck in the line between where the water comes out of your house and where it goes into your hot water heater or washing machine/dishwasher (this is especially true for older homes with galvanized pipes). But if it happens at multiple faucets around your home, there may be a larger problem with your main line or individual fixtures like sinks or toilets.
Water leaking into a home may not be as obvious as reduced water pressure or no water flow, but it’s still an indication of a problem with your pipes. Listen for any strange sounds from under the sink or near the toilet, and call a water line replacement plumber immediately if you hear anything unusual.
If you suddenly start to smell something unpleasant coming from your pipes, it’s time to check the water in your home. It may be a sign that you have burst pipes, and if so, you’ll want to get them repaired as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more damage will be done to your property, which will cost you even more money down the road.
High water bills
If you’re seeing unusually high water bills, it could mean an issue with your plumbing system, causing too much water to flow through at once. This could be due to burst pipes or other issues with your plumbing system—either way, it’s not good news!
What to do when pipes burst in the house?
Have you ever had a pipe burst in your house? If so, you know how stressful and expensive it can be.
Pipes bursting is very common in homes and businesses around the world. In fact, they happen so often that they’re actually considered to be a common occurrence.
If you ever face this situation, there are several things you can do to help ensure that all of your belongings are kept safe and undamaged, as well as your home itself.
Here are the steps to follow when pipes burst in your house:
Shut off the Water Supply
Locate the main water valve and turn it off to stop the flow of water into your home. This will help prevent further flooding and damage. It’s crucial to know the location of your main water valve beforehand, so familiarize yourself with its whereabouts.
Once the water supply is shut off, open all the faucets in your house to relieve pressure and allow any remaining water in the pipes to drain. This will help reduce the potential for additional water damage.
Electricity and Safety
If the burst pipe is near electrical outlets, appliances, or electrical panels, switch off the electricity at the main breaker to prevent the risk of electrical shocks. Exercise caution and prioritize your safety during the cleanup process.
Call a Professional Plumber
Contact a licensed plumber in Metro Detroit as soon as possible to assess the situation and perform necessary repairs. Burst pipes require professional attention, and a plumber in Metro Detroit will have the expertise to fix the issue correctly and efficiently.
Remove Standing Water
If there is standing water in your home, use buckets, mops, or a wet/dry vacuum to remove it. Promptly drying out the affected areas can help prevent mold growth and further severe damage to your property.
If your belongings have been affected by the water, remove and salvage any items that are at risk of further damage. Move furniture, carpets, and personal possessions to a dry area or contact professional water damage restoration services if needed.
Document the Damage
Take photographs or videos of the damage caused by the burst pipe for insurance purposes. Documenting the extent of the water damage will be helpful when filing an insurance claim.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
Notify your insurance company about the burst pipe incident and follow the instructions for filing a claim. Provide them with the necessary documentation and information to facilitate the claims process.
How to prevent pipe bursts in the winter?
It’s cold, it’s damp, and your pipes are probably freezing. If you’re worried about the possibility of a pipe bursting in the middle of winter, you’re not alone.
Pipes burst every winter in many homes across the country. Homeowners put off maintenance until spring and then find themselves dealing with a nightmare situation: water damage and flooding that can cost you thousands of dollars to fix. But there are things you can do to learn how to prevent pipe bursts this winter!
Here are 10 tips to prevent burst pipes in winter:
Insulate Exposed Pipes
Pipes that are exposed to the elements are at a greater risk of bursting. Insulating exposed pipes will help reduce the risk of this happening. You can also seal gaps and cracks in your home’s exterior walls as well as inside your home’s walls and floors. This helps prevent moisture from getting into your walls and damaging them.
Seal Gaps and Cracks
Pipes that are surrounded by water can freeze, causing them to burst during the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing outside. To prevent water pipe bursts from happening to your pipes, ensure there is no room between the pipes and their insulation or wrapping material so they do not get too cold during the winters when temperatures drop below freezing outside.
Disconnect Outdoor Hoses and Faucets
It’s important that you disconnect your outdoor hoses before they freeze over and crack the pipe, which is why we recommend doing so immediately after all outdoor activities are finished for the day. The same goes for faucets—leaving them running even after you’ve finished using them can damage your entire plumbing system and lead to leaks.
Keep Interior Temperatures Consistent
The temperature inside your home should stay consistent throughout the winter season so that you don’t have any major temperature fluctuations that could cause damage to your pipes. Call repiping specialists if it’s too cold outside for you to go out and turn off the water supply yourself!
Use Anti-Freeze in Your Outside Fixtures
Anti-freeze will help prevent leaks from developing in your outside plumbing during this time of year. It’s easy to do yourself at home using an anti-freeze solution in a bottle or jug form (just make sure there’s no salt water mixed in with the solution). Just pour some into the affected areas before they freeze over completely, and you’ll be good as new!
Cabinet Doors Open
If you have insulated cabinets in your home, keep them open so that heat can escape from them and into your home. This will help prevent burst pipes during winter months when temperatures are at their coldest.
Allow Faucets to Drip
You know how it goes: You get up in the morning, turn on the hot water, and nothing happens. You run back downstairs and turn off your water heater, hoping that will solve the problem. But it doesn’t. You call a Metro Detroit plumber, and he tells you that your pipes have frozen—and that’s why there’s no hot water coming out of them!
But there is a simple solution to this common issue: Allow faucets to drip through overnight when temperatures drop below freezing outside. This allows water inside of your pipes to keep moving so that it doesn’t freeze and expand inside of them (which can cause leaks). It also helps prevent ice dams from forming on roofs that protect against leaks inside homes (more info about ice dams here).
Monitor Weather Forecasts
Monitor weather forecasts and ensure you have a plan in place if a winter storm is on the way. If you know there is ice or snow coming, ensure you have an emergency kit ready and have someone check in on your home regularly during the winter months.
Drain and Winterize Sprinkler Systems
Winterize your sprinkler system by draining it out of the water and turning off the main valve. If you have an automatic timer, you can also set this up so it won’t run when temperatures dip below freezing.
Keep Your Lawn Equipment in Good Shape
Make sure your lawn equipment is in good working order so that if there is any damage during freezing temperatures, it can be repaired quickly before too much damage occurs!
DIY Vs. Professional Pipe Bursting – Repiping Solution
Many homeowners are tempted to perform their repiping projects to save money.
At first glance, repiping seems like a simple enough task. But if you’ve ever tried to do it yourself before, you know that isn’t always the case. And even if you haven’t tried it yourself, chances are good that you’ve seen someone else attempt it and fail miserably—which can make you wonder whether it’s worth trying yourself at all!
Below is a comparison table outlining the differences between a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach and hiring a professional for pipe bursting-repiping solutions.
|Aspect||DIY Pipe Bursting||Professional Pipe Bursting|
|Expertise||Requires a moderate to high level of plumbing knowledge and experience.||Handled by experienced and trained professionals with specialized equipment and expertise in pipe bursting techniques.|
|Cost||Generally lower cost as it eliminates labor expenses associated with hiring a professional.||Higher costs due to professional fees, but it ensures quality workmanship and reduces the risk of mistakes.|
|Equipment||Requires renting or purchasing specialized pipe bursting equipment and tools.||Professionals bring their own specialized equipment, reducing the burden on homeowners to acquire tools.|
|Efficiency||Success depends on individual skill level and knowledge. It may take longer to complete the project.||Professionals work efficiently and have the experience to complete the task in a timely manner.|
|Safety||The DIY approach may pose risks if not done correctly, such as accidental damage to other pipes or property.||Professionals prioritize safety, follow industry standards, and have insurance coverage for any mishaps.|
|Warranty/Guarantee||No formal warranty or guarantee unless provided by the manufacturer of materials used.||Professionals typically offer warranties or guarantees on their workmanship and materials.|
|Code Compliance||It may require extensive research to ensure compliance with local plumbing codes and regulations.||Professionals are knowledgeable about local codes and regulations, ensuring compliance with all requirements.|
|Stress and Convenience||DIY can be time-consuming and stressful and may disrupt daily routines.||Hiring professionals reduces stress, provides convenience, and allows homeowners to focus on other priorities.|
It’s Time to Repiping Solutions Experts in Metro Detroit!
Are you ready to have a plumbing expert come out and help you with a permanent solution to burst and frozen pipes?
Repiping is a smart solution for homeowners who want to improve their home’s energy efficiency, reduce water bills, and make their plumbing system last longer.
And, if you’re looking for a reliable, local repiping specialist in Metro Detroit, you’ve come to the right place! Motor City Plumbing and Drain is the name you can trust when it comes to all things water line replacement, drain repair, drain replacement, and general plumbing services. We’ve been helping homeowners and businesses in Metro Detroit for over many years now. Our team of trained and licensed plumbers is dedicated to providing quality service at an affordable price—and we pride ourselves on being able to offer same-day service in most cases.
From residential to commercial projects, we’re here for you! If you need a new water heater or a new toilet installed, or if your sink is leaking or clogged—we’ve got you covered. We offer full-service Plumbing Maintenance and Services in Metro Detroit, including:
– Repiping solution
– Water line replacement
– Hydro jetting
– Sewer line repair and replacement
– Water heater installation and repair
– Faucet repair and replacement
– Pipe repair and replacement
– Sump pump installation
– And many more…
We know what works best in each situation because we’ve seen it all before. Whether you’re looking for a simple repair or an entire overhaul of your piping system, our plumbers will help guide you through each step along the way so that your project goes smoothly from start to finish.
If you have any questions about what might have caused your pipes’ issues or how we can help you with repiping the whole house, please contact us today at (586) 585-1862!