In our daily life, burst pipes can be a disaster. And you won't just need a plumber, either. Though the plumber will replace the Steam Pipe and should ensure it will not happen again, even a small crack can release hundreds of gallons of water into your home each day, destroying possessions, causing structural damage and creating the kinds of conditions that dangerous molds love.
At some point, the water in each compartment expanded, overflowed and fused with its buddy in the next compartment over. The same principle is at work when pipes burst.
Interestingly, it's not usually the outward pressure of expanding water on the pipe walls that causes the pipe to burst. Here's why. When a pipe is completely blocked by ice, water gets trapped between the ice dam at one end and the closed faucet at the other. As water expands further down the pipe and freezes, pressure builds up between the blockage and the tap and the pipe will burst at its weakest point.
It is said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And in the case of frozen and burst pipes, a little prevention will save you whack of cash and some huge headaches, too. Luckily, here are four tips worth taking as winter gets closer.
1. Wrap up to stay warm. Check that any pipes close to the exterior walls or floors in a basement or crawlspace are properly insulated. Insulation value increases with the thickness of insulation you use, so don't be afraid to wrap to the max. Not sure if you've got enough insulation? Call a plumber to do a quick assessment.
2. Keep the heat in and the cold out. Seal up any air leaks near your interior pipes to make sure they aren't being exposed to freezing outdoor air. Cover any nearby outside vents that could let cold air. Don't forget to check that there aren't any gaps or cracks where the pipes enter your house as well.
3. Turn off the taps. Outdoor water taps are a recipe for pipe disaster if the pipe running between the tap and the interior pipe freezes and bursts. Turn off the exterior water source and don't forget to turn on the taps to drain all remaining water.
4. Keep the heat on. If your furnace quits, your basement pipes won't stay warm for long. Invest in a little proactive heating maintenance to keep your water flowing well all winter. Even if your furnace is functioning properly, if your thermostat is turned down too low or you've closed all the vents in your basement, it may not be warm enough to keep pipes from freezing.