Do you know why pipes burst in winter? Let’s find out.
A drop in temperature during the frigid winter months is extremely risky for exposed water pipes. This is because the freezing temperatures can cause the pipes to burst. Such an occurrence can result in water damage, which can further lead to mold growth. Two of the primary reasons why pipes burst are pressure buildup and molecule expansion. We shall discuss these in detail in the article.
So, let’s begin.
Causes of Burst Water Pipes
Increase in Pressure
This is a no-brainer— during the cold winter months, just like everything else, the water within your pipes tends to freeze. When that happens, the water expands and tries to occupy all the empty spaces within the water pipe. The water continues to expand until there is no space left. A time comes when the water starts gravitating towards the faucet. Since the water will have no place to go, it will exceed the full capacity of your pipe. When there is no more capacity left, the pipe will crack and burst.
Expansion of Water Molecules
Water is very unique and unpredictable in nature. As long as it is in its liquid state, water molecules are constantly in motion, with little spaces between them. Until water freezes, the molecules tend to huddle together. However, the moment the temperature drops and the water freezes, there is a sudden change in the molecules of water.
In frozen water, the molecules tend to strengthen and their movement is restricted. When water freezes, the molecules attain a more defined structure. When the motion of these molecules stops, they take on a crystalline structure. The shape of this structure resembles that of a hexagon. The freezing and expansion of water creates further pressure in the pipes, which they fail to withstand for long, and eventually crack.
Ways to Prevent Your Pipes from Bursting During Winter
Up until now, we have discussed the causes of burst pipes in winter. Now, we will share with you some easy tips to prevent this.
- Allowyour water faucets to drip just a bit. Keeping the faucets open maintains the movement of water within the faucets. Even if it is a little trickle, the water will not freeze within the pipes.
- Make sure the pipes are perfectly insulated. Heat tape and foam are two of the best forms of insulation. Such materials can easily be found at hardware and home improvement stores.
- Leave the sink cabinets open.This will allow outside air to come into contact with the pipes.
- Have yourpipes inspected every few months.
By now, you must have understood why pipes burst during winter and what can be done to prevent pipes from bursting when it is cold.