Why Do Frozen Pipes Always Burst?

A burst copper pipe from assumedly winter weather.

Many of us have experienced harsh winters this season. Bitter cold winds and plummeting temperatures led to record lows across large swaths of the United States. Most people know to limit outdoor activity and bundle up to keep themselves and their families safe, but preparing a home for an unusually strong winter storm is another story. Outdoor home infrastructure can freeze, power can be lost, and even worse, pipes can burst and flood homes.

But why do frozen pipes tend to burst in the winter, and what can you do to prevent that from happening? We’ve got the answers to help keep your home protected this winter.

The Perfect Storm

Harsh winter weather can be a recipe for disaster. Your home infrastructure may be well designed for the heat in the summer, but maybe it wasn’t planned to handle record-low temperatures. It’s essential to understand why pipes freeze and end up exploding in the first place.

Water expands as it freezes. This is due to ice having a greater volume than liquid, which means simply that it occupies more space. This increase in volume leads to stress on the pipes and an eventual crack in the piping itself. This phenomenon can happen to all types of pipes, not just copper. Plastic PVC piping is not immune to this occurrence. It is especially important to keep an eye on older piping, as it can weaken with age and be more likely to burst.

How to Prevent Burst Pipes and Flooding

It is always best to prepare for the worst now than deal with a disaster later. The pipes most likely to experience freezing and bursting are the ones that lack insulation or are located in the external parts of a home away from any kind of heating. A good solution for keeping pipes warm is to keep the heating on in your home, even if you are away on vacation. It sounds pointless, but this prevents the whole house from getting too cold, which could lead to frozen pipes.

Another common practice to combat pressure in the piping is to open a faucet that’s the farthest away from the water main. Just a slow drip will do the job. This relieves the pressure that could build up in your home while you are away.

My Pipes Have Already Burst. What Now?

We made a previous blog post about locating the main water shutoff valve. If record-breaking weather is coming towards you, it’s good practice to find out where the shutoff is. It could even be beneficial to label the main water shutoff in the house and make sure others know where it’s located.

If it’s an immediate emergency, give us a call at (864) 210-5814, and we’ll assist you as soon as possible. An alternative way to reach us is by filling out this service request form.

Need help repairing burst pipes? Ace is here for you. 

Ace Plumbing, Electric, Heating & Air is a family-owned and run plumbing company in and around Easley, SC. Our experienced professionals are always available to help you with any repair or installation needs. We’re here to help when disaster strikes or when you need the knowledge to prevent foreseeable disasters. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today at (864) 210-5814!