You are certainly in a crisis once a pipe bursts or if it freezes. A broken pipe can result in significant harm to your home and its belongings and the two conditions that are most likely to destroy your pipes are extremely low temperatures and prolonged chilly winters. Under such very cold weather conditions, those pipes that are inside your home’s exterior walls and those that are located in chilly places are usually the ones prone to freezing or bursting.
Water pipes may acquire ice and obstruction during a harsh winter. This is something you must never ignore; otherwise, this might result in elevated pressure and a burst pipe.
Nevertheless, before we talk about what we have to do when a pipe bursts, we need to first know about the causes of the problem and the signs that you have a burst water pipe at home.
What Can Cause a Burst Pipe
Winter temperatures that hit below freezing raise serious concerns about burst water pipes. So why, then, do frozen pipes burst? There are numerous reasons that this happens. Although there are many other factors at play, most homeowners occasionally face a few typical causes. It’s rare for a pipe to burst overnight, so be sure to monitor your plumbing system all year long. Here are a few of the most typical reasons why pipes burst:
- Frozen Pipes
Frozen pipes are a major issue in regions with severe winters. According to Howell (2022), since water expands when it freezes into ice, more space is filled by solid ice. The pressure that the ice builds up inside the pipes is what causes the rupture or breakage.
The water in the pipes freezes when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, the bonds inside the pipe become weaker and so the pipe breaks. The ice and pipe will break or shatter if there is a quick rise in temperature. One of the things that can elevate temperature is turning on your hot water. To prevent frozen pipes, you must always keep your home warm especially during long chilly winters.
Clogs within the pipe also lead to an increase in water pressure. It won’t be a big problem if the clog forms near the drain, but if it develops deep within the pipe, then expect that there’ll be an increased water pressure around the clog. As a result, the water will have nowhere else to go so a leak occurs as the water seeps outside of the pipe. Eventually, the metal can no longer sustain the growing pressure in the pipe and that’s when a burst pipe occurs.
Corrosion takes place over time until the pipe finally fails. Rust contributes significantly to corrosion, which is also caused by pH imbalances in the water. The strength of the pipe is compromised by rust and pH imbalances, which causes pipe leaks and burst pipes. Homes with well water are more likely to have rusted pipes since the water often contains more iron.
- Pipe Movement
In most cases, pipe movement is unintentional. After winter, pipes may occasionally shift because of the pipes’ tendency to compress in the cold. Other times, movements happen as a result of plumbing repairs or extremely high water pressure, which can cause the pipes to shake or rattle. This motion raises the water pressure in a certain area of the pipe, causing it to burst.
Most Common Burst Pipe Indicators
According to Team HomeServe (2021), moisture begins to leak into your floors, ceilings, and insulation when a water pipe bursts, resulting in serious damage. A potentially dangerous living environment is eventually created as mold and mildew begin to develop. In general, we would know if we have a burst pipe in our hands if we see large water pools forming inside the house. This is not the only indication, though. If you don’t know what to look for, it will be more difficult to locate these signs. Check the indicators listed below and if you experience more than one of these problems, you most likely have a ruptured pipe:
- Puddles of Water
If a puddle significantly increases the moment the water is turned on, it most likely represents a burst. Small drops frequently signify a leak, but when a pipe bursts, water pools underneath the pipe and also travels through walls.
- Stains on Walls and Ceilings
Large water stains on walls and ceilings typically point to a pipe issue among other reasons why stains happen. These stains are among the more useful signs of a burst pipe because, in most cases, the location of the stains identifies the precise location of the burst as well.
- Low Water Pressure
If you have a burst pipe at home, water doesn’t flow as smoothly. You will then experience a persistently low water pressure, an indication of a leak or burst pipe. When a pipe bursts, water pours out of the hole rather than through the faucet, thereby lowering water pressure.
- Water Discoloration
Water discoloration is indicative of a variety of other problems, but it can also be a sign of a burst pipe. Your water may turn brownish not because of a burst pipe but because of excessive manganese content. However, corrosion in the pipes can cause bursts and reddish water typically signals this.
- Odor in Water
Despite the fact that there are many other causes for water smells, pipe bursts are indicated by a metallic smell along with the other symptoms stated in this list. Besides the water appearing reddish, you can sense a metallic smell if rust is what caused the burst pipe.
- Water Noise
Another indication of a burst pipe is the sound of water in the walls. Occasionally, water sounds may come from various sources like the faucets, sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. That’s why before assuming a burst, check your other water fixtures as well. So, the next time you hear constantly dripping sounds, eliminate those factors first to make certain that the pipes in your walls are indeed to blame for the noise you hear.
- Pipe Noise
Pipe movement can result in leaks and bursts and you can tell if there has been such movement if you occasionally hear pipe noises such as metallic clangs. When water flows through a ruptured or burst pipe, the pipe frequently trembles. Normally, you will seldom ever hear the sound of water running through the pipes, but a burst pipe can make more noise, depending on the extent of the damage and the location of the rupture.
- Sudden Surge in Water Bills
Be mindful when you notice that your water bill suddenly increases without apparent causes. This may signify a leak or breakage in your water main. Your water usage spikes up as a result of the water seeping out of the pipe and this calls for further probing on your part.
- Patches of Moisture in Your House or Yard
As already mentioned, you can see moist or discolored areas on your walls, floors, or ceilings when water leaks from a busted pipe. The leaks can also occur under your tiled floor, which will eventually make the tiles feel shaky or wobbly. Aside from this, you might also notice depressions on the ground, uneven pavement, and puddles in your yard.
Tips to Address Burst Pipes
Now that you are aware of the causes and signs of burst pipes, you need to understand how you will handle it when a pipe bursts in your property. The Hanover Insurance Group emphasizes that it’s critical to act fast when a pipe bursts since the cost of damage caused by a burst water pipe is more than $5,000. If you are ignorant about this, expect that you will frequently experience water damage to your house’s structures including your walls, floors, and other priceless valuables. Here’s how you can lessen the impact and damage a burst pipe can do to your home:
- Turn off the main water supply.
Your home will be swamped with water if a pipe bursts. So, in order to stop the water flow and prevent further damage, the very first thing you must do is to immediately find the main water source and turn it off. Moreover, you have to keep the faucets running to completely drain the pipe and eliminate any pressure that may still be there, and then flush every toilet inside your home. It could be necessary to turn off the electricity as well, depending on the leak’s location.
- Call a Plumber to Repair the Pipe.
For an immediate and proper action regarding the repair of your busted pipe, call a licensed plumber. It’s important to rely on the professionals because obviously they know better and attempting to do a DIY solution could result in greater harm.
- Remove the water.
The possibility of further water damage increases the longer the water remains inside your house. Therefore, you must get rid of as much standing water as you can by installing dehumidifiers and/or fans in the area and using a wet-and-dry vacuum. You should also transfer wet things to a warm, dry location. To prevent mold and mildew problems in the future, see to it that the entire area is completely dry.
- Prepare an inventory.
List in detail all of the items and property that have been damaged. To make it easier for you, as well as your insurance claims adjuster, to refer to the inventory later, take pictures of all the damages. Also, keep any receipts you have for repairs.
- Talk to your insurance agent.
Don’t you know that freezing and water damage represent roughly 22% of all homeowner insurance claims? In most cases, your regular homeowner policy will cover water damage brought by broken pipes. Therefore, you should get in touch with your insurance agent right once to start your home’s insurance claim.
- Take preventive measures.
The last thing anyone wants to deal with is a burst pipe. Take note that the temperature alert level for frozen pipes is 20°F. Thus, once the temperatures dip, it’s important to check that your pipes are insulated and warm and to keep the water from your faucets dripping. The following simple measures can help protect your pipes from freezing:
- Even if you are going on a short trip away from home, set your thermostat and keep the temperature to at least 55 degrees F.
- Keep your tap water running slowly.
- To allow heat to circulate and reach uninsulated pipes, open kitchen cupboards including those cabinets under sinks.
- Insulate exposed pipes, especially those that run along exterior walls.
- Seal/caulk any cracks, holes, and leaks around your house to block cold air from entering and penetrating the pipes.
- Give extra care to those pipes situated in unheated locations (i.e. attic, crawl spaces, basements and exterior walls).
Stay Alert When It Comes to Your Pipes
Nothing is more terrifying than the dreadful feeling you get when you see water leaking from your roof or, worse, flowing from a busted pipe. However, there’s no need to panic. With careful preparation and planning, you can prevent a complete plumbing catastrophe. You can save a lot of money on pricey plumbing repairs by knowing what to do when a pipe bursts. Follow the tips listed in here and you’re good to go.