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What Causes Frozen Pipes to Burst

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Water damage from bursting pipes can be one of the worst things to happen in your home during the winter. If you take the right precautions before the cold hits, you shouldn’t have any issues but sometimes the unexpected can happen. So, as they say: “It’s better to have a jacket and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

Why Your Pipes Freeze and Burst

There are a number of reasons your pipes freeze in low temperatures. It can just be because the pipes were poorly insulated in the first place (especially if you are in an older house) or it could be because you didn’t take the proper precautions. For example, if you have pipes behind cupboard doors and you didn’t open them to let in the warm air.

Frozen pipes will burst because when water freezes, it will also expand the pipe. The expansion will likely cause the pipes to crack and eventually burst. However, if the pipe doesn’t burst the first time, it will increase the chances of it happening the next time temperatures drop.

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

The best way to prevent frozen pipes is making sure your pipes and water tank are properly insulated. To do this without calling a plumber, you will need to wrap lagging around the pipes before winter hits. Lagging is a foam material that can be acquired at most home good or DIY stores.

You will also need to keep the cold away from your pipes. The easiest way to do this is to leave you cupboard doors open so any exposed pipes will stay in the heat. If you have modern pipes in your home, they already come with a thermostat that will turn on to prevent frozen pipes. However, it wouldn’t hurt to double check and make sure it is working properly.

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes from Bursting

Chances are, if you took the right precautions before the cold hit, then you won’t experience much or any freezing. However, bad things do happen. If your pipes freeze, the first thing you should do is turn off the main water valve and–assuming you aren’t one–call a plumber.

However, if you are in a scenario where a plumber wouldn’t be able to get to you (such as Snowstorm Jonas), then you are going to have to fix it yourself.

Identify where the blockage is and move anything of value away from it. After you have done that, turn off the stop tap. Find the closest sink to the frozen pipe and turn it on so the water can come out once the pipe begins defrosting. Lastly, take a hairdryer and start thawing the pipe; however, remember the pipe could still burst so be careful.

Bursting pipes can cause serious damage to your house in the winter. Check the weather regularly and take the proper precautions before it gets cold outside. It’s always better to be over prepared than underprepared.


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