What Causes Pipes to Burst and Why it isn’t Always Freezing Weather

Answers to a Frequently Asked Question

So many of our customers have lived in the north prior to relocating to The Sunshine State.  They are well aware of the problems that cold weather can wreak on pipes as water inside pipes freezes, expands and causes a pipe to burst.  As a Floridian, you should know that burst pipes are not just a cold weather problem.  In fact, pipes can burst any time of the year, even in the heat of a Florida summer.  While frozen water in pipes is certainly a cause of burst pipes, here are some other major reasons pipes can burst that you should be aware of.

Hard Water/Corrosion– Whether or not you have hard water depends on your water supply source.  Water is considered hard if it has high concentrations of magnesium and calcium.  Tampa is known to have some of the hardest water in the nation.  Also, well water can be hard.  Filtration systems can lessen the hardness but in Florida most well water tends to be hard.  As these minerals build up in your pipes and plumbing fixtures, they can create clogs as well as corrosion on the interior of your pipes.  Over time this will constrict the flow of water in the pipe which can increase stress eventually leading to a burst pipe.

Poor Installation – Pipes can become weak if they are properly installed.  This usually occurs if the joints between connecting pipes are poorly soldered or the fittings between pipes aren’t fitted properly.  If your home or business has water pressure issues or experiences an increase in water pressure this can lead to leaks and eventually a burst pipe.  While we can’t always know as plumbers whether your pipes were properly installed, we can easily determine if you have a problem with high water pressure using a water pressure gauge.  Water pressure should usually fall in the range of 30-50 PSI.  Anything over 60 PSI can be problematic.  The solution is to install a pressure reducing valve that will lower your water pressure to acceptable levels.

Water Hammer – Pipes need to be secured within the walls of your home.  If they aren’t secured, they can move when water is turned on an off causing a surge through the pipes.  When this occurs, it creates a noticeable banging or clanking sound that plumbers call water hammer.  Over time the movement of your pipes can cause the joints to weaken eventually leading to joint failure and leaks or even a burst pipe.

Signs You May Have Weakened Pipes

  1. Stains on a wall – Stains on your walls are a telltale sign that you have leaking pipes. It takes time for water to stain a wall.  If you notice stains, you need to call a professional plumber immediately as this is a ticking time bomb that could lead to catastrophic damage if the leaking pipe leads to a pipe bursting.
  2. Discolored Water – Water that comes from your faucets should be clear. If you notice that your tap water has a yellow tint or is brown, it’s probably an indication you have rusty pipes.

Burst pipes are one of the most potentially damaging and costly things that can happen to your home.  The key to avoiding them is to be aware of the signs you may have an emerging problem.  When in doubt it’s always best to call in a professional plumber who can diagnose the problem and fix it before it becomes a disaster.  As always, when you have a plumbing problem or concern, call the professionals at The Clean Plumbers.