It’s not impossible to prevent pipes from bursting in your home. Although, it is difficult to remember the importance of upkeep because nobody thinks it will happen to them. Even if you purchase the best of the best piping for your home, one day, those pipes will age and erode, and they will fail you. We don’t want to be the negative Nancy but why sugar coat this serious issue that can cost you hundreds of dollars in water damage? So, why do pipes burst? Here is a little science lesson for you. When a liquid cools down, the molecules will slow down and start to get closer together which increases the density of the liquid. Basically what we are saying, is that in most cases, pipes burst because the water inside will expand when it starts to freeze. Once it begins to freeze, the pipe obtains too much pressure to handle and it ends up bursting. The science behind it is cool and all, but of course we all have to pay some price. When pipes burst in homes, homeowners have to deal with more than fixing the pipe. Problems start to stack up, like replacing the pipe, the effects of water damage, possible mold growth, the loss of valuable items, your home’s structural integrity, etc. It’s important to learn how such a small item can create havoc in your life and the best ways to prevent it.
Causes of Pipes Bursting
Pipes burst and most of the time, we have no clue how it happened. We investigate, but without the knowledge and training, we normally come up clueless. There are a few different causes of why pipes burst. The majority of times, pipes burst from age, freezing, damage, water pressure, and misuse. Whatever the cause may be, the consequences are normally costly and quite devastating. When pipes burst in your home, you could lose as much as 400 liters of water; that’s two full baths an hour. Some people suffer from major water damage in their homes (like flood damage), causing them to continue their lives without water or even without a home until everything is restored. When dealing with water damage, water restoration specialists should be one of your first calls because they can help you every step of the way; even with your insurance company.
One of the common causes of pipes bursting, is water pressure. This is something you should always pay attention to in your home, because signs of odd water pressure in your home can be related to water damage. When pipes are clogged, water pressure will begin building and building until the pipes can no longer take it. Pipes burst if you are not doing routine maintenance on your plumbing. If there is low water pressure in your sinks, showers, and bathtubs, this could mean that one of the pipes are clogged. Here is something to try at home: Turn on the water in your bathtub and keep it running while you turn on the water in your kitchen sink. If the water pressure drops when you turn on the second faucet, then it’s a possibility that there is a clogged pipe or a leaky pipe. Pipes burst when you least expect it and the best way to prevent it would be by paying attention to the signs and doing routine maintenance.
A great deal of home piping is hidden from the eye and located in the floors, walls, and roof spaces. When these areas are not getting the right heat temperatures, the water in pipes will start to expand and freeze, creating water pressure and eventually pipes burst. Since piping is located in hidden areas of a home, water damage is quite severe and affects the structural integrity of the home foundation. When pipes burst, it does not necessarily mean that the pipe couldn’t handle the freezing water. But over time, the pipes take on the occasional stress and the additive effect can weaken the piping, making the pipes burst. Also, if water from a faucet does not come out in a stream but comes trickling out, it may be a sign of frozen pipes. The pipes that are located in the danger zones, like basements, attics, crawl spaces, and interior spaces with no heating, are at most risk for bursting. Fortunately, most piping has insulation or are located in areas where the temperature does not reach the freezing point. The insulation can protect pipes from bursting and save the homeowner tons of money in water damage. It is important to keep water running through pipes during cold weather to prevent any water pressure or frozen water.
Prevention Tips for Pipes Bursting
Taking preventative measures should be an annual routine for property owners. When pipes burst, the effects of water damage are devastating to your home and your wallet. Sometimes you will be able to notice signs of water damage and take care of the situation before it worsens, but other times you will not be able to see the water damage until it is flooding your floors. Below are some preventative measures you can take to minimize your pipes from bursting.
- Locate your main water supply valve. They are normally located outside near the water meter, on the wall inside the basement, or inside an access panel in your home. In case of an emergency, locating the main water supply valve is useful because it will cut off a home’s entire water supply allowing you to fix the problem.
- If your home will be vacant for any amount of time, it may be a good idea to turn off your entire water supply in case an emergency were to happen without you being home. If water damage were to occur, and you were gone for more than 48 hours, then you would be coming home to some nasty mold.
- Make sure to fix any leaky faucets and check under sinks for dripping. Water pressure could be building up and you don’t want any pipes to burst.
- Insulate piping in unheated areas like garages, basements, attics, etc. These areas are most at risk for pipes bursting. Insulating with fiberglass or foam sleeves can help prevent them from bursting.
- Insulate piping and around the water heater. Water heaters are one of the biggest causes of water damage and 75% will fail before they are 12 years old.
- Pay attention to noisy pipes, noisy water heaters, dripping faucets, and signs of moisture in walls or floors.
- Make sure to have your air conditioning unit serviced regularly.
- During the cold weather months, make sure to leave your heating on enough to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Letting water run from faucets (every once in a while, and even just trickling), can help prevent water pressure from increasing.
- Insulate any outside piping in the ground that runs into the garage or basement. Also, piping should be buried deep in the ground. It will keep piping from drying out and getting fractured from yard work for example.
What to Do If Pipes Burst
If you are experiencing water damage from a burst pipe, below are some Do’s and Don’ts of water damage. It is important to take action immediately when dealing with water damage. Calling a water damage restoration specialist would be a smart move because they know what needs to be done to restore your home.
Remove excess water by mopping and blotting areas where water is visible.
Remove wet upholstery and cushions and place in a fashion most suitable to airing out of materials.
Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between all wet furniture and carpeting to stop the staining of your carpet.
Turn air conditioners on or open all doors and windows depending on the time of year for maximum drying efficiency.
Remove all colored rugs or upholstery from any wet carpeting to stop the spread of staining.
Wipe water from all wood furniture as quickly as possible.
Remove any and all valuable, or sentimental objects from the affected area as quickly as possible.
Do NOT use your vacuum to clean up excess water.
Do not turn on any ceiling fixtures in areas were ceilings are affected and absolutely keep out of rooms with wet or sagging ceilings.
Do not leave wet fabrics or any valuable items in place.