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Jan 23 2020

What Causes A Pipe To Burst?

A burst pipe is one of the worst and messiest plumbing repair problems. It can cause a huge mess, a lot of damage, and be an expensive fix. The best defense against a burst pipe is to take preventative measures to protect your plumbing. Here is what causes a pipe to burst and what you can do to protect your plumbing.  

Freezing Temperatures

One of the leading things that causes a pipe to burst is freezing temperatures. In areas that are prone to freezing temperatures, many homes are winterized and have systems in place to keep their pipes from freezing. But in areas that enjoy a more moderate climate, a sudden weather fluke could leave their plumbing vulnerable to freezing. The problem with frozen pipes is water expands when it freezes. This can put pressure on the wall of your pipe, and cause a pipe to burst.    The best way to prevent frozen pipes is to make sure your pipes are properly insulated. And if a sudden cold front moves in and catches you off guard you can take these precautions:

  • Let you faucet drip. This can relieve the pressure that builds up inside of your pipes. Ultimately, it is the pressure that builds up inside of your pipes that causes them to burst.
  • Keep the heat on. The constant circulation of warm air, can help prevent frozen pipes.
  • Apply heating tape. This works as an electric blanket and wraps around pipes. 
  • Drain the pipes, especially if you have a vacant property. 

A Clogged Pipe

A clogged pipe is more than just a nuisance, it can also cause a pipe to burst. When an obstruction is preventing the flow of water, the water has to go someplace. A lot of the time the water travels back up the drain, and sometimes the pressure is so great that it causes a pipe to burst. Treating a clogged drain right away is important to not only restore the function of your plumbing, but also protect your pipes.    Plunging and using an auger are very effective ways at clearing a clog. However, if you are dealing with a really stubborn clog or a clog that just keeps coming back, it is a good idea to call a professional. Professional drain cleaning can help remove all of the buildup that collects inside of your pipes and get to the root of the problem. To keep clogs at bay, make annual drain cleaning apart of your annual  plumbing maintenance.   

Too Much Pressure

When your water pressure is too high it can cause problems for your plumbing, including a burst pipe. There are several reasons why you may have water pressure that is too high:   

  • You live at the bottom of a hill
  • You live in a high rise building
  • Construction work
  • Use of a fire hydrant

Sometimes, the water municipality intentionally increases water pressure so that is has better reach. Residential water pressure should be no greater than 80 psi, so if water comes shooting out of the faucet when you turn on the tap, you have a problem. Check and see if you have a water pressure regulator valve. You may either need to replace one or install one. This helps regulate the water pressure in your home. Too much water pressure can cause your pipes to burst, damage plumbing fixtures, and cause your pipes to bang around.  


Pipes that are corroded are more brittle and fragile. Corrosion is caused by mineral deposits, or sediment in the water. Calcium, magnesium, and iron are some common minerals that cause wreak havoc on your plumbing. Older pipes, like galvanized steel pipes are more susceptible to corrosion. Drain pipes that are corroded become weak, and if there is a sudden shift in the ground like from an earthquake or a heavy rainfall, your pipes may be susceptible to breakage. Other things that can cause your pipes to corrode include the ph level of the water, and harsh chemicals (like liquid drain cleaner) being poured down the drain.    You don’t have control over the weather or whether or not an earthquake is going to happen. But you can watch what goes down the drain and invest in a water softener to help reduce the amount of sediment in your water.    A burst pipe can be a huge mess, so it is important to be proactive with repairs. Call your local plumber at the first signs of a burst pipe. Concerned about a leaky or burst pipe? Contact Rooter Hero today to schedule a plumbing inspection.  

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