Why do freezing pipes burst?

By Thornton Plumbing and Heating

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Burst pipes are any resident’s most dreadful inconvenience. “How did the pipe burst?” “How do you fix it?” “Who can you trust to fix it?” As a popular plumbing service in Salt Lake City, we understand how stressful this situation can be. But like most plumbing problems-it can be fixed. Perhaps you’ve had freezing pipes burst, and you’re wondering, “Why does that happen?”. Today, we’re going to give you all the information you need to understand this.

The reason freezing pipes burst

The spokesperson for Roto-Rooter, Paul Abrams, gives us context on this. According to Abrams, freezing pipes don’t burst all the time. However, when it happens, this is because the pipes experience a significant amount of pressure. After all, water expands when it freezes. That enormous amount of pressure can lead to a small leak in the joints or cracks of the pipe, which can further cause a stream of gushing water pouring into your home.

Water damage can be a very pricey affair. It is one of the most usual insurance claims, with an average cost of a whopping $5000.

How to identify freezing pipes

To ensure you won’t be making any water damage insurance claims, we’re giving you all the key indicators to identify freezing pipes.

If your pipes have a line of water coated in frost, that is a good indicator that they’re frozen. However, not all pipes are visible, but there are different ways to check this too.

If your toilet refuses to refill after you’ve flushed it or your faucets aren’t allowing water through them, those are signs that your pipes are most likely frozen.

How to thaw a frozen pipe

Before you thaw your frozen pipes, you need to shut off the water supply to either that section of your house or your entire house. This is crucial as thawing is not the issue, the real issue is what comes after thawing.

This is because the frozen water may act as a plug, keeping the water from leaking through cracks in the pipe. When you’ve thawed that “plug” it may cause water to stream out. Be prepared with a mop, bucket, and a bunch of towels.

Abrams explained that “It’s not the frozen pipes that get plumbers’ phones ringing.” “It’s the thawing pipes that leak and spew water after a hard freeze.”

Now let’s talk about how you can thaw your frozen pipes. You can use a hairdryer, a heat lamp, or a space heater to thaw your frozen pipes. If you don’t want to rely on your household items, you can purchase thermostatically controlled heat tape to wrap the frozen pipes in. It can cost anywhere between $50 to $200 (depending on the length) for thermostatically controlled heat tape, and it works like a charm.

A big no-no when thawing your pipes is using a propane torch as this is a fire risk.

What should you do if a pipe burst?

If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of having to deal with frozen pipes, the first thing you should do is shut off your water supply. The next thing you need to do is call your plumber.

While you’re waiting for your plumber, start drying up as much water as you can. You might need towels, buckets, mops, and sponges for this. 

The risk of moisture-related problems such as mold and mildew can be minimized by using a dehumidifier to dry the entire space.

If your frozen pipes have created a colossal mess in your home, reach out to your insurance agent, they usually cover burst pipes under household insurance.

The main water shut-off valve

Knowing where to find this valve is extremely important as shutting it off can lead to less water damage in your home. Perhaps your home has an outdated gate-style valve, in this case, it would be best to replace the valve with a more recent modeled ball valve. To replace the valve can cost anywhere between $200 to $400, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Gate valves start sticking around the only time you need to use them, to prevent this from happening, rotate your valve annually to exercise it.

Also, by the time you call your plumber, have them inspect your valve to ensure everything works smoothly.

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