Posted on 2/20/2013

The cold weather of the winter months introduces a host of potential home plumbing challenges. Fortunately, with the proper precautions, many serious plumbing problems can be avoided altogether. Burst pipes are a common example of a maintenance issue that can cause major inconvenience and lead to the need for expensive repairs. Here is a brief guide to the physics behind burst pipes in the wintertime.

Frosty Pipe

Why Do Pipes Burst?
There are many widespread misconceptions regarding burst pipes. For example, many homeowners are under the impression that the formation of ice itself is responsible for burst pipes during the wintertime. This is not the case, however. As ice forms inside your water pipes, it expands inwards from the wall of the pipes. Once the ice forms a complete block, water gets stuck between the ice block and the closed faucet. This is not a concern on the other side of the pipe, as the water can simply go back to the source. As the ice continues to expand, the water pressure between the block and the faucet continues to increase. Eventually, this built-up pressure leads to a burst.

What Are the Consequences of a Burst Pipe?
Needless to say, burst pipes can be a messy affair. Indeed, when water escapes from your plumbing system, it can cause serious water damage throughout your entire home. In addition to compromising the structural integrity of your home, water damage can also lead to dangerous and unhealthful mold growth. Then there’s the issue of the pipe itself. Burst pipes can be difficult to repair and generally need to be replaced altogether.

Though burst pipes can cause serious problems, you can easily avoid the problem by taking the right precautions. Insulating your pipes, for example, can prevent them from freezing in the first place. Running your faucets when it is cold can also help prevent pressure buildup in your pipes. To learn more about the physics of burst pipes, call Arrow Plumbing Inc. at (888) 349-8161.