Pipes burst? Here’s what you need to know

Woman looking at damage after a water pipe leak at home

There really isn’t anything good about having a pipe burst in your home. Find out what causes pipes to burst, how to prevent broken water pipes, and what to do if it happens anyways.

What causes a pipe to burst

Have you ever wondered why pipes burst in winter more often than in the summer? Below-freezing temperatures freeze water in the pipes, making it expand. Older pipes or ones with weaker seals are more likely to crack or burst with the sudden expansion of ice within the pipes. Check out our other article on how you can prevent your pipes from freezing this winter, or continue to read below for more tips.

Other reasons your pipes may burst:

  • Old Age
  • High water pressure
  • Clogs/Blockages
  • Earthquakes
  • Improper Installation
  • Corrosion

If you recently purchased an older home, getting an inspection will help you determine if it is time to upgrade the plumbing. In the meantime, prevention is key.

Home residential problem, Damage ceiling in restroom, water leak out from waste piping system make ceiling damaged

How to prevent pipes from bursting

We have some quick tips to help you prevent a disaster from happening.

  1. Insulate pipes in unheated or exposed areas, such as crawl spaces, attics, and exterior walls. Use pipe insulation sleeves or wrapping material designed for this purpose.
  2. Keep the temperature inside your home consistently warm, even when you are away, especially during cold weather. Set your thermostat to a temperature that will keep the pipes above freezing.
  3. Inspect your home for any gaps or cracks that allow cold air to enter near pipes. Seal these openings with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from reaching the pipes and causing them to freeze.
  4. Before winter arrives, disconnect garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Drain the water from the hoses and store them in a sheltered location. Shut off the water supply to outdoor faucets if possible and drain any remaining water from the pipes to prevent freezing.
  5. During extremely cold weather, allow faucets connected to vulnerable pipes (such as those running along exterior walls) to drip slightly. This helps relieve pressure within the pipes, reducing the likelihood of freezing.


a burst pipe

What happens when a pipe bursts – and what you can do about it

Suddenly, you hear a loud noise from the basement. You rush downstairs only to see water pouring out of your pipes and flooding the basement. What do you do?

First, stay calm.

Next, spend a few minutes doing as much as you can to get it under control before calling a reliable plumber like John G Plumbing.

What you can do before you call us:

Turn off the main water supply. Somewhere in your home is a master valve that controls the flow of water for the entire house. Turn it off. (If you don’t know where it is, find out today so you’re prepared.)
– If the pipe burst near electrical outlets or appliances, shut off the main power supply too.
– Try to contain the leak by using buckets to collect any additional dripping water.

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At this point, it is a good idea to call John G Plumbing Inc for advice on the next steps and for a professional eye to determine if other pipes are at risk of breaking.

Cleaning up the water, opening windows for airflow, and turning on fans to dry the area are important to prevent mold and mildew growth. You may want to take photos before you start cleaning up if you have home insurance.

Sometimes a cracked pipe isn’t always obvious

Smaller pipes in the home can burst and take a little longer to identify, because they don’t have the same water pressure as a main water line contains. These leaks can often go unnoticed for weeks, or even months, depending on where they are located.

Here are some signs that smaller pipes may have already burst in your home:

    • Random puddles of water in your home
    • An increase on your water bill, despite not feeling like you’ve been using more water
    • Yellow stains/spots on walls and ceilings
    • A change in water pressure (less)