There are few things worse for your home than water damage, but one of them is water damage you cannot see until its too late. Unlike water from floods or heavy rains, which you instantly know about, a burst or leaky pipe could go unnoticed for days, weeks, even months before you see ugly stains, mold and rot. In fact, there could be one in your home right now!
As homes get older, so does their plumbing, and the chances that you might be facing structural damage from a burst pipe increase. In fact, according to a Verysk Analytics Report, one in fifty homeowners have filed insurance claims for water damage from leaks or burst pipes, with the average cost being $10,000. That means that either you or someone you know might be facing a burst pipe anytime soon.
They say one ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so let’s see what causes pipes to burst and what you can do about it.
The Most Common Reasons Pipes Burst
The most common causes of pipe bursts are:
- 1. Freezing
- 2. Clogs
- 3. High Water Pressure
- 4. Tree and Plant Root Growth
- 5. Corrosion
We’ll cover these more in-depth below:
If you’ve never lived in cold climates before, you might be surprised that the more experienced folk usually leave their taps trickling overnight. This might sound incredibly wasteful, but it is the only surefire way of keeping your pipes from freezing.
If you live somewhere cold, really cold, you better start doing this too. Experts say that when the temperature drops below 20 degrees, your pipes are liable to freeze. Once this happens, it is very easy for pressure to build up around the blockade, and before you know it your pipes are bursting.
These last couple of years, people have become more cognizant of what they flush down the toilet, but still, clogs are one of the primary reasons pipes burst. They can be made up of pretty much anything, hair, gunk, toilet paper. wet wipes. It doesn’t really matter what makes up the clog.
What matters is that the clog can build up over time until the pressure is too much and you’ll find yourself dealing not only with a burst pipe but also a mountain of disgusting gunk that went down the drains.
The best way to prevent this is to avoid throwing away things like oil and coffee grounds. A small investment in a drain screen can save you from worlds of trouble later on.
High Water Pressure
This one could be related to clogs, there’s no need for a clog to block your pipes completely to make them go boom. If the flow is restricted enough, the pressure will rise and the pipes will burst.
However, even if you’re cognizant of clogs, you can still fall victim to this one if your water is pumped at more than 60psi. So if you think the water is coming out a bit too fast from your faucet, maybe contact your plumber.
Root growth is especially dangerous for those living in older homes, as the plants have had plenty of time to grow. As the root system expands, they might encounter the water lines and begin pushing against them. We’ve all seen plants crack sidewalks and concrete, so its no wonder your pipes won’t hold up for long and will eventually break.
The lesson here is to plant any trees as far as possible from water pipes to avoid problems down the line. However, if you’re moving into a place where trees were already planted, just be sure to have your pipes checked regularly to nip any problems on the bud.
Once again, older places are more liable to suffer from pipe corrosion, particularly those with lead or steel plumbing. The wear and tear of thousands of gallons of water will thin out your pipes until eventually, they can’t take the strain anymore, and -you guessed it- they burst.
If you’re building or remodeling a home, it might be a good idea to invest in more durable materials for your plumbing, such as copper or plastic. Not only you won’t have to worry about pipes bursting, but you also won’t be at risk of nasty chemicals leaking into your water supply.
What Do I Do If A Pipe Bursts?
Even if you do everything right, accidents happen, so in case you find yourself with a burst pipe, here’s a quick list of steps you should take:
- Turn off your main water supply. This will stop water from flowing into the pipe and prevent more damage.
- Drain your pipes. Flush your toilets multiple times and open your taps to drain all the water left in the pipes that might leak out otherwise
- If you know where the mess is, begin documenting. You’ll most likely file an insurance claim and any pictures and video will come in handy.
- Clean up as fast as possible. Any leftover water is liable to cause structural damage and encourage mold growth (more on mold here) so try to keep things dry.
Of course, depending on what caused the burst pipe in the first place, there are additional steps you can take, like warming up in case of freeing or cutting the roots if they encroached on your pipes.
But the most important step is to call professional help. That’s where we come in, we work with top-notch home restoration companies across the country to get you the help you need, without the hassle of weeding out those just trying to make a quick buck off of your misery. No matter where you are, we can get you premium restoration services, so get in touch.