Why Do Pipes Burst?
Written on: January 16, 2023
The causes of frozen pipes — and how to prevent them
If you’ve ever had a pipe burst in your home, you know it’s more than a simple inconvenience. Burst pipes can damage your property and electrical wiring. They can lead to mold and mildew and put some or all of your water-dependent appliances out of commission. And, of course, there’s the aggravation and expense of making a last-minute call to fix your plumbing emergency.
At OSI Comfort Specialists, we have a team of skilled, certified professionals that can handle any plumbing service. We’ve dealt with our share of frozen and burst pipes while serving families in Queens and Nassau County. We can help you understand why pipes burst and how you can stop that from happening.
Why do pipes freeze and burst?
When temperatures drop below freezing for a sustained period, the water inside your home’s plumbing can turn to ice. Pipes in exterior walls or unheated parts of your home (like attics, crawl spaces and unfinished basements) are especially vulnerable.
When water freezes, it expands, and that creates pressure that can split open your pipes. This opens the literal floodgates into your home. If you’re out of town when a pipe bursts, the water damage can be significant.
How do you unfreeze an icy pipe?
If you have a pipe that is frozen but has not burst, you might be able to thaw it using a hair dryer. You should not attempt this if there is standing water. Here is the process:
- Turn on the nearest affected faucet.
- Access the pipe, which may require removing drywall.
- Use a hair dryer to heat the frozen section of the pipe.
- It might take as long as an hour, but you will know when the ice has thawed when water starts flowing normally from the open faucet.
- Be sure to check for leaks from the affected pipe.
You can also call the plumbing professionals at OSI Comfort Specialists to assess and fix your frozen pipe.
How can you prevent freezing and burst pipes?
First and foremost, never turn your heat all the way off during the winter. When you leave the house, set a minimum temperature on your thermostat of 55 degrees. This should keep the house warm enough to prevent freezing pipes. Here are some more helpful tips for avoiding ice in your plumbing:
- Leave a trickle of hot and cold water from your faucets while you’re out of town and overnight when it’s freezing.
- Seal air leaks in your home with caulking and insulation.
- Open the doors of any cabinet with an exposed pipe so that the pipe is warmed by your home’s heating.
- Insulate any exposed pipes in your house.
- Before winter starts, disconnect outdoor hoses, close the valve supplying water to them and bleed out any remaining liquid.
If you need any help with your home’s heating or plumbing, the pros at OSI Comfort Specialists are always available to help. Drop us a line today to schedule an appointment!