Updated: June 2023
Wondering What Caused Your Pipe to Burst? The Reason Why Water Pipes Burst
Let’s face it, no one wants to deal with the damages, expenses, and messes caused by burst pipes. So, what causes these pipes to burst during the winter? The basic answer is that the water coming into your house from the outside is much colder than it was during the summer months. The cold water causes your pipes to contract and in weaker parts, can cause the pipe to burst. This happens because the pipe becomes unable to withhold the water pressures inside it.
Signs that your pipes are frozen
A frozen pipe can be detected as early as when no water is coming out of your faucet when you turn it on. When you notice that, check to make sure that the water is still running and that there is no leak in the basement. After you’ve confirmed these two points, make sure none of your pipes have burst by continuing your inspection. You have two options if your pipes are frozen but have not ruptured:
- Hire a plumber to thaw your pipes. Typically, this is a better option if you don’t think you can safely thaw the pipes yourself, you don’t know where the frozen pipes are, or you can’t reach the frozen area.
- If the pipes are frozen, try thawing them yourself. However, this is a potentially hazardous option.
At What Temperature Do Pipes Freeze?
The freezing temperature of the water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The pipes inside your home, however, are protected from exterior freezing temperatures through your home’s insulation. What this means is that on days when it is 32 degrees outside, it does not necessarily mean that your pipes will freeze.
Typically, your home’s pipes begin to freeze when the outside temperature is at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, this depends on your geographical location. For example, areas that expect lower temperatures have water pipes that are better insulated in the inner parts of your home, compared to other areas.
Related: How to Thaw Frozen Pipes.
How Long Does It Take for Pipes to Freeze and Burst?
The first thing to think about when answering this question is, what is the exact temperature outside and how long will be it predicted to stay that temperature or lower? As a general rule of thumb, for your home’s water pipes to freeze, the outside temperature needs to be below 20 degrees, for a total of at least six consecutive hours. How long it will take for your pipes to freeze and burst also depends on your home’s insulation, and how deep inside your home your water pipes are located. For example, if you live in a geographical location that usually does not suffer from cold winters, chances are that your water pipes do not have that much insulation to protect them from extreme temperatures. In such cases, the time that it may take for your pipes to freeze, and burst may be lower.
Related: Keep Your Pipes from Freezing.
Can Pipes Burst in Warm Weather?
It’s common knowledge that pipes can burst during the winter, but did you know that it can happen during the summer too? Extreme temperatures and the high water demand can make pipes vulnerable and more susceptible to bursts. Regular maintenance can help prevent problems like this by reinforcing your pipes.
Precautions You Can Take to Prevent Your Water Pipes Bursting:
There are no practical ways of heating the ground temperature around your home, so stopping the contraction caused by the cold water is not something you can control. Our advice is to be mindful of your plumbing system as the temperatures change and check to see if you have any leaks. While we can’t stop the leaks caused by temperature drops, there are things you can do to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. Here is a list of eight things that you can do to avoid water pipe bursts:
- Keep Water Faucets Running
If it is extremely cold outside, always keep one or two faucets running slowly. Water moving through the system should prevent the line from freezing.
- Direct Warm Air to Cold Areas of Your Home
Often, the pipes that freeze are located near an outside wall or a window, so be sure to direct warm air to any colder areas of your home. (Start in your basement and look for any pipes near the exterior of the home).
- Leave Your Cabinet Doors Open
If your kitchen sink is on an outside wall (as it usually is), be sure to leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air into the cabinet. Your kitchen faucet is usually left on during extremely cold weather.
- Disconnect Your Hose from the Outside Faucet
Be sure to disconnect your hose from the outside faucet. If you leave your hose connected, water is not able to drain out of your hose bib and will freeze and break the device.
- Install Heat Tape
There is a product called heat tape that can be installed and will warm pipes as needed during cold weather. While you could do this yourself, you may want to consult with an Indianapolis plumber to learn some best practices.
- Seal Leaks That Allow Cold Air into Your Home
Seal leaks that allow cold air into your home where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
- Check Your Home’s Temperature
Prevent temperatures from dropping below 32 degrees in any area of your home where water lines are located.
- Call an Expert Plumber
An expert licensed plumber will be able to locate potential pipe bursts and prevent them from happening. Don’t hesitate to contact us here is Hope Plumbing to receive tips and expertise on what you can do to prevent your home’s water pipes from bursting.
Related: How to Prevent Frozen Pipes.
If you’re dealing with a burst pipe or water leaks, contact Hope Plumbing at (317) 751-9004. Our skilled Indianapolis plumbers have experience with pipe repairs and re-piping services as well as dealing with water lines on the job. We quickly diagnose the issue before creating customized solution plans. We’ll happily explain and answer all of your questions so that you can make an informed decision about your home. We make sure to treat you with the respect you deserve by always being on time, courteous, and getting the job done right the first time.
For pipe repairs in Indianapolis that are effective and affordable, contact our team today!