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Home > Education > Winter Weather > Winter Weather Preparation > Busted Pipes Easy To Prevent But Thousands To Repair

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Busted Pipes - Easy to Prevent but Thousands to Repair

Cold weather can spell disaster to the homeowner who is not prepared.  Busted pipes due to freezing weather can quickly cause untold damage to your home.  Yet, with a few preventative measures which implement easily, you can avoid having busted pipes and save yourself thousands in home repair bills.

Why Pipes Burst:

Pressure from frozen water caused this pipe to spring a leakAs water freezes it expands within a home's pipe system, pushing against the sides of the pipe with pressure greater than 2,000 psi.  As residential systems are not rated for this level of pressure, they fracture and finally break.  These busted pipes then allow a torrent of water to spill into your home.  The most common locations to find busted pipes after such an incident are areas where the pipes are exposed to the elements in the greatest degree.  These include pipes running through an unheated crawlspace beneath the home, or those that follow any outside walls.

Thawing Frozen Pipes:

If you have neglected to implement preventative measures before the beginning of the winter season, you may already be dangerously close to having busted pipes.  To determine if you currently have any frozen pipes, simply turn the water on each faucet in your home in turn.  If the water does not flow or does so only slowly, you are in danger of having busted pipes.  You need to correct the problem at once to prevent a costly incident.

Busted pipes can cause thousands in water damageFirst, leave the faucet which is not running correctly on.  Second, determine the course of the supply pipe and which area is obstructed.  Once you find this obstruction, if you see any bulges or cracking this indicates that busted pipes are imminent.  Third, track down any low temperature areas through which the pipe runs, such as an outside wall or unheated crawlspace.  If you find any busted pipes before you can thaw out your system, it is paramount that shut off the main water valve immediately to avoid any further damage.

If the frozen pipes are inaccessible behind a wall, you have only a few options to prevent them from becoming busted pipes, which will decimate your insulation and drywall construction.  You can turn up your home's thermostat, cut away a section of the wall to access the pipe directly, or place an infrared heat lamp in front of the wall.  While none of these options is ideal, preventing busted pipes demands taking any steps necessary.

Preventing Busted Pipes:

The following actions can prevent busted pipes from damaging your home.  Keep the faucet on at a trickle pace at all times.  This keeps the water in your pipes moving constantly, never allowing them to freeze.  This is by far the easiest and cheapest measure to prevent busted pipes this winter.  For pipes in problem areas, apply foam insulation wrap.  If this does not provide enough added temperature gain, install an electric pipe-heating cable.  Busted pipes cannot occur with the inclusion of such a measure.  If your house consistently has slow water flow during the winter months, busted pipes are always a danger.  You may need to take more extreme measures and install a crawlspace heater to keep busted pipes away for good.   

By taking the easy and cost effective measures above, you will save yourself the hassle and expense of dealing with busted pipes this winter.

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