MOST COMMON CAUSES OF BURST PIPES
As a homeowner, it’s important to understand the potential damage from a leak. If left unrepaired, it can result in wastewater – encouraging unwanted growth and smells in your home. However, preventing this kind of damage isn’t always straightforward (especially for homeowners with little to no plumbing experience).
A big reason for this is you can’t see most of the pipework in your home, so you may not always know when a leak is present. However, by understanding and recognizing the most common causes of a leak, you can contact a plumber early and fend off potential disaster.
Not all plumbing consists of metal pipes. When appliances are installed, a contractor places rubber sealant around any connections or areas like your dishwasher door to keep everything watertight. As your appliances age, the sealing can degrade and even break over time. If you’ve noticed condensation on your appliances or puddles near them, you may have a broken seal.
While a clog may not seem like an urgent threat, some can lead to overflowing or even burst pipes. This causes pressure to build up behind the blockage, potentially leading to structural damage. And if a clog consists of corrosive substances like household chemicals, it can speed up the damage to your pipes.
Damaged Pipe Joints
One of the most vulnerable areas of a pipe is its joints. Joints consist of separate curved pieces attaching to straight pipes on either side and are responsible for redirecting water throughout your home.
Over time, extreme temperatures and excess water pressure can be hard on pipe joints – causing them to deteriorate. If pipes are making a ticking or banging noise (especially when you’re running hot water), chances are that you’re experiencing joint issues.
High Water Pressure
High water pressure can feel amazing in the shower, but the harder your water hits the inside of your pipes, the greater your risk of eventual leaks. In extreme cases, incorrect pressure can cause pipes to burst. Most pipes and faucets can only withstand water pressure of 60 psi. If you’re concerned about your pressure or have noticed leaking, have a licensed plumber test the pressure and make any adjustments.
Pipes are meant to last a long time and the vast majority of them provide many decades of reliable service. However, that doesn’t mean pipes will last indefinitely. Sometimes years of slow building corrosion will cause a pipe to fail. Corrosion can be caused by a pH imbalance in the water, a minor issue at first that over time becomes more takes its toll on water pipes. If you have hard water and your water supply pipes are made of galvanized iron, the minerals inside the water slowly wear down the galvanized coating (which itself can cause dangerous lead poisoning) and expose the iron pipe beneath. In time, the iron turns to rust (iron oxide) and gradually narrows the diameter of the pipe so that water can barely get through the pipe. Your pipe may burst or it may just close itself off and prohibit water flow altogether.
Pipe connections are perhaps the most vulnerable points of the entire pipework. Weak and improper pipe connectivity can expose water pipes to extreme pressure, therefore acting as the immediate point of bursting in case of a slight pressure buildup. It is important that these connections are appropriately reinforced to prevent issues.
In conclusion, the bursting of water pipes is a common occurrence that is attributable to instances of improper pipework or an unequal subjection of water pressure. Whenever they occur, repairs should be done with immediacy to avoid the subsequent leakages that may cut off water supply and lead to massive losses.
Prevention of Burst Pipes
Burst pipes can be devastating, so anything you can do to minimise the risk of a Burst Pipe happening in your home. As with most systems and parts of your home prevention is by far the best solution, below we have highlighted several key things you can do to.
- Make sure you know where your stop cock is. If you do not know where your stopcock is or how to operate it then please take a look at our blog on main stopcock.
- Ensure that any outside taps and piping including drain pipes for heating or overflow pipes are insulated. You can use insulating lagging or foam to do this but make sure you do not leave any joints, bends or taps exposed. For outside taps fitted covers are available.
- Any piping that are in unheated areas such as lofts, basements and garages all need to be lagged with good quality pipe lagging.
- Any pipes buried in the ground outside such as pipes to garages or sheds need to be buried deep enough and/or lagged.
- Insulate your cold water tank, this is so often forgotten and can be the major cause of Burst Pipes.
Steps to Take When a Pipe Bursts
No one can deny that owning a home is a major expense, especially if it’s a mature model. When it comes to a busted water pipe, the damage can be serious for your home, your possessions, and your health if the mess is not cleaned up properly.
- Stop the water
First thing, turn off the water flow when you suspect a pipe has broken, even if you don’t know where the water’s coming from. You’ll find the stop tap on the water main. It is typically located under the kitchen sink or where the main service pipe connects to your house. Every family member should know the location of the water shut-off stopcock for emergencies.
- Locate the broken pipe and inspect the damage
After draining all the excess water, locate the burst pipe. Inspect the damage and consider where the pipe is located before you run off to the home improvement store. Regardless of the damage or size of the break, a major water pipe will take more time and effort to replace because it holds more water and leads to additional connections, as opposed to a single pipe under the bathroom sink.
- Repair the burst pipe
Fixing a rupture or crack in non-main pipes is usually fairly straightforward, but it can become expensive depending on the mending material you choose. Here is an inexpensive repair for small cracks and water breaks that also gives you superior hold.
You’ll need an extra-long length of ordinary garden hose and two or three hose clamps or similar grips that produce extreme constriction. Measure the fissure or crack and cut the garden hose about ten inches longer than needed to fill the broken area.
Next, slice the garden hose so you can slip it over the crack or burst in the water pipe. Using the hose clamps or similar brackets, hold the hose portion over the busted area and compress it as tight as it will go. Test your repair by turning on the water.
- Bring in a professional drying crew
If the water from the burst pipe is on the walls or ceilings as well as the floor, contact a professional water restoration company. Simply using fans and open windows to dry a soaked area is an invitation to mold, mildew, and even serious illness for your family. You will also want to shut off the electrical power to that area of the house as a precaution against shocks.
If you have successfully restored your home to its original state or fixed a burst pipe on your own, congratulations! Be sure to run the cold water, then the hot water; and don’t forget to flush the toilets before normal usage begins.