Burst Pipes: Causes and Prevention Strategies

Prevent Burst Pipes This Winter

When the freezing temperatures arrive, plumbers can almost guarantee they will get calls about burst pipes. This is because frozen pipes can seriously strain a home’s plumbing system and lead to a burst pipe. However, several other common issues can also lead to pipe bursts. This blog will cover some common causes of burst pipes and how to prevent them from becoming an issue in one’s home.

Preventing Pipes Freezing

freezingSince water expands as it freezes, water freezing in the pipes is one of the most well-known causes of burst pipes. All types of pipes can be affected by freezing, whether it is an old cast iron pipe, copper pipe, or PVC pipe. Exposed pipes in unfinished basement areas and behind sinks are particularly vulnerable to changes in temperature. That is why pipe insulation is a must for preventing frozen pipes during the harsh Wisconsin winters. There are two common kinds of pipe insulation that are typically used including:

  • Fiberglass Pipe Insulation: This insulation comes on a roll and is backed by metallic tape. It’s basically the same type of insulation that goes in the walls and ceilings of a home, only in a much narrower form.  It’s often used to insulate the curving pipes under sinks because it’s applied by wrapping it around the pipes rather than having to find the proper insulation for the pipe size.
  • Foam Pipe Insulation: Foam insulation looks like a long foam tube with a hole in the middle and a slit down the side. The diameter of the hole in the middle indicates the size of the pipe it is made to insulate.  It’s installed by sliding it over the line like a hotdog goes into a bun. Then, a special tape is used to cover the seam. 

Preventing Pipe Corrosion

corrosionAnother cause of burst pipes is corrosion. Corrosion is a form of decay that usually occurs in metals due to a reaction to their environment. Corrosion in pipes can be caused or worsened by several different factors, including:

  • Age or wear and tear
  • Chemical drain cleaners
  • Hard water minerals
  • Loose fittings
  • Metal-to-metal contact
  • Oxidation

Some of these factors cannot be prevented entirely, but some can be. Homeowners should avoid using chemical drain openers to solve a clog problem. While these corrosive chemicals can sometimes break up clogs, they can also eat away at protective linings on the interior of pipes and the pipes themselves, exposing them to further damage from minerals that may be present in the water. Homeowners should also be sure that any fittings that attach their pipes to the wall are properly tightened, so the pipes are not moving around and causing additional damage.

Preventing a Clogged Pipe

Pipe bursts can also occur when clogs form in the pipes. A buildup of debris such as dirt, hair, grease, soap scum, food waste, and non-flushable materials can cause clogs. The clog blocks the flow of water in the pipe and leads to an increase in pressure. Over time this pressure can cause the line to burst, leading to serious water damage in the home.  

The way to prevent these deep clogs that can disrupt a whole home’s plumbing system is to have regular drain cleaning done by a professional. They will likely use a method called hydrojetting, which cleans drain pipes quickly and efficiently and does not cause the damage that chemical drain cleaners leave behind. Additionally, household items that can cause clogs should be disposed of properly, so they don’t end up in the pipes.

About Maxwell-White Plumbing

Maxwell-White Plumbing has nearly 30 years of experience serving West Salem, WI, and the surrounding areas. They provide straightforward pricing, financing, and the latest technology. Call them today for drain cleaning or burst pipe services in West Salem, WI.