We get asked all the time, why do pipes freeze and burst? Water pipes burst because the water inside them expands and gets close to freezing. This causes an increase in pressure inside the pipe and when that pressure gets too high for the pipe to contain, it ruptures.
And what happens if they do freeze? It’s not always a crisis, but it can escalate very quickly. Most of the time your water pipes are safe from freezing. But if they run through any part of your house that isn’t heated, or if your heating system fails, the water inside can turn to ice. When water in a pipe freezes, it extends and puts tremendous pressure on both metal and plastic pipes.
When the weather hits extreme lows, as we are expected to see this weekend, it is not a foregone conclusion that your pipes will freeze. There are preemptive measures that can be taken to avoid this costly issue.
Running water through the pipe, even at a trickle, can help prevent pipes from freezing. Also, keeping your thermostat set to the same temperature, both during the day and at night, should help to keep your pipes at a more regularized temperature. If you plan on being away this weekend, or during any prolonged cold spell, leave the heat on in your home and be sure to set the temperature no lower than 55 degrees F.
But what happens if your pipes do freeze? It’s not the freezing that causes the burst, it’s actually the thawing pipes that leak and spew water after a hard freeze. Responsible use of a space heater, heat lamp, or hair dryer can help thaw the frozen length of pipe. Wrapping frozen pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape (from $50 to $200, depending on length) is also an effective way to quickly thaw a trouble spot.
The bottom line is, with some simple preventive measures, you can work to prevent what could be a major plumbing emergency in your home. If you have questions, or need to have a plumbing consultation performed at your home, the experts here at Spartakus Plumbing are here to help 24 / 7 / 365.