How Frozen Pipes Burst

Everyone has heard that if their pipes freeze they can burst, but you may not know what actually causes them to burst. Here’s how it happens:

Simply put, as the water inside of the pipes gets close to freezing, it begins to expand and take on a hexagonal form. This creates pressure inside of the pipe. When that pressure gets too high for the pipe to contain, it bursts.

More specifically, water is unique in that expands just before the transition to solid. Most liquids do not expand in this way. When liquids cool down, their molecules slow down, allowing them to get closer together. This increases the density of the liquid. Water will do this too, but as it reaches 3.98 degrees Celsius, (39.164 degrees Fahrenheit) it reaches it’s maximum density and then begins to expand once more until it freezes solid. This expansion creates pressure when the freezing water is in a contained space such as inside a pipe or faucet.

Now that homeowners know how it works, here’s how to prevent it from ruining your pipes:

  • Disconnect the garden hose and turn off water to the outside hose bib
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas like the crawl space
  • Keep the furnace set to 55 degrees minimum while away
  • Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to reach the pipes
  • Seal air leaks surrounding/near pipes

If pipes do freeze, call All Star Plumbing and Restoration right away. We can thaw the pipes out carefully, inspect them to find any damage, and fix any issues we find. Frozen pipes can cause significant damage both to the water pipes and in water damage to the surrounding area.

Don’t delay if pipes have become frozen or have already burst. Waiting to fix the issue can lead to costly damages no homeowner wants to deal with. Learn more about preventing frozen pipes and how All Star Plumbing and Restoration can help by visiting our website.

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