A Guide to Pipe Bursting and Prevention
Regardless of where you live, there’s always a chance that you could be at risk of a pipe bursting. Check out our guide to pipe bursting and prevention today.
A burst pipe can quickly cause flooding and damage to your home. In fact, water damage due to a pipe bursting is the second most common insurance claim in the US.
Read what to do when a pipe bursts and what you can do to prevent it from happening before it’s too late.
What causes a pipe to burst?
Freezing temperatures are the most common reason for a pipe bursting.
Some pipes are more inclined to burst than others. Exposed pipes — such as those that run along exterior walls — are usually the culprits. You might also have similar problems with water lines in unheated exterior areas, like the following:
- Crawl spaces
- Kitchen cabinets
If a pipe in your home bursts, your first priority is stopping the water from pouring into your home.
What to do in the event of a pipe bursting?
As soon as you notice the fault, shut off the valve closest to the leaking pipe.
Next: Switch off the main water valve into your house. Place buckets under the source of the leak and switch on the smaller valve again. Now call an emergency plumbing service.
If you turn on your faucet during a cold spell and nothing comes out, there may be a burst somewhere along that water line.
Leave the faucet in the open position, shut off the main water supply to your house, and call a plumber immediately.
How to prevent burst pipes
There are a few things you can do to prevent a pipe bursting.
During a cold spell, leave a tap dripping on the opposite point from where the water pipe enters your house. The constant flow of water can prevent water in your pipes from freezing.
The places where electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes enter you home can allow cold air into your home. Seal these off.
Close any valves supplying outdoor hose bibs during cold weather and keep the outside valves open.
A ‘pipe sleeve’ or heat tape from a home repair store will help to insulate vulnerable pipes and prevent freezing. Even wrapping exposed pipes in newspaper can help.
Defrosting frozen pipes
It may happen that your pipes freeze over anyway. The first indicator of this will be turning on a faucet and getting only a slight trickle of water.
Leave the faucet open and try to defrost the water in the pipe before a problem arises. As you treat the pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, the water flowing towards the faucet will help to melt the ice.
Apply a heating pad to the frozen area, blow hot air onto it from a hair dryer or heater or wrap the pipe in towels soaked in hot water.
Keep applying heat until the water flows freely again. If you can’t find the source of the problem or get the water flowing, call a licensed plumber for assistance.
Do not use any open flame devices to try and defrost the water in the pipe.
When in doubt
The best way to avoid a pipe bursting is to get professional help. A certified plumber will be able to advise you on the correct preventative measures for your house and assist you in an emergency.