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How do Pipes Burst in Homes and Businesses?


Burst water or sewage pipes are among the worst plumbing nightmares for home and business owners. A burst pipe can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your property. These plumbing issues can also be relatively expensive to resolve correctly. When we consider the impact of a broken pipe, it is weird that comedy movies often use a burst pipe to bring laughs (think The Money Pit with Tom Hanks.) If you, a friend, or a loved one has dealt with a burst pipe, you know there is nothing funny about this situation. Even though we are a plumbing company that fixes burst pipes, we don’t want to see people in these situations. Below are some of the most common reasons water pipes break or crack and what you can do to prevent these issues.  

Frozen Pipes

The number one reason water pipes burst in and around Salt Lake City is freezing temperatures. This spring is an excellent example of this. Many local communities will have their sprinkler system charged around April 15th. We are in a bizarre situation because we just had a spring snowstorm. These sudden temperature drops can cause pipes to burst, especially if you have already begun using your outdoor water, thinking that winter was behind us this year.  

How to Prevent This Issue?

There are many ways to help prevent frozen and burst pipes during winter. A trusted plumbing company can recommend the ideal solution. Typical solutions include: 

Pipe Thawing:  Plumbers have special tools and heat guns that can be used to thaw frozen pipes. As time goes on, the icy water will expand, and the pressure will result in a pipe bursting.  

Insulating Exterior Pipes: Pipes that are facing the exterior or outside of the home are often not insulated as interior pipes. By adding insulation, you can help ensure that the water in the lines does not fall below freezing levels.  

Keep Water Flowing:  One thing you can do is help ensure that water is not allowed to stay sitting in your pipes for long. By activating a few faucets, you can let a slow trickle of water allow your pipes to keep flowing. You can also help keep lines warm by opening your cabinets. This will allow warm air from your HVAC system to reach pipes under kitchen sinks. Warming the air around pipes is essential if your sink is by an exterior wall or in a basement that is not finished.  

Improper Installation 

Sometimes a pipe will burst because it was not correctly installed by a licensed professional. Signs of poorly installed plumbing include loose-fitted joints, soldering, or high-water pressure issues that are not adequately maintained. Plumbing issues are sometimes passed on from one homeowner to another. Passing plumbing problems can happen when an older home has been purchased and the buyer did not perform a thorough plumbing inspection.  

Not all plumbers are made the same. In some cases, the desire to save money motivates people to hire a plumbing company that will cut corners and provides sub-par installation. We recommend only working with licensed and certified plumbers to perform plumbing and contractor tasks to avoid this issue. Google reviews and other online platforms will help you see the type of service a company or individual gives. This way, you know the local reputation of who you are hiring.  

Rusted and Corroded Pipes 

Perhaps the second most common reason pipes burst is old age. All piping systems will experience wear and tear, and the older the pipes, the more attention they require. Plumbing equipment and standards have evolved, and today’s materials are not the same as 50-60 years ago. Pipes made from materials such as galvanized steel, copper, or iron will eventually rust. Rust is caused when corrosive materials interact with one another. Rust will form if the pipe is subjected to oxygen, water, and other minerals that weaken the line.  

We recommend regularly inspecting your pipes if you know that your home or business piping system is old. Depending on the age and location of the piping system, you may want to consider a whole-home repipe service.  

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