As the coldest season of the year, winter in southern Oregon brings frigid temperatures, extreme conditions, and an unusual risk of damage to your home. One of the most common, expensive types of wintertime damage is bursting pipes. Not only are they an incredible inconvenience that requires costly repair, but burst pipes can also cause substantial property damage to your home due to water leaks.
Why are pipes so vulnerable to bursting during this time of year? When water drops to freezing temperatures, its volume expands by approximately nine percent. Water within your pipes that freezes causes an exponential increase in pressure, from around 40 pounds per square inch to 40,000 pounds per square inch. No matter how recently they were installed or how carefully you maintain them throughout the year, pipes simply cannot handle that much pressure and will inevitably rupture.
It seems obvious that pipes would burst in areas where ice has formed a block, but actually, this rarely occurs. Instead, freezing sections of pipe will force this intense pressure down the system to a spot between the ice blockage and the faucet at the end of the pipe. Wind chill plays a considerable role in this process, as well. Unheated areas of your home, such as attics, basements, and garages, are the most susceptible to cracks or holes that allow the intrusion of cold air from the outside, quickening the formation of ice blocks. Almost 37 percent of bursting pipes from freezing conditions happen in basements. Make sure these areas of your home are properly insulated and any obvious openings are sealed immediately.
Although unheated areas are especially prone to ice accumulation, even the heated areas of your home are not safe from frozen, bursting pipes. Keeping interior doors open can allow for even, consistent distribution of heat throughout your home. Some pipe systems extend through cabinets or behind exterior walls, and these can also freeze under certain conditions. Periodically opening the cabinets in your kitchen and bathroom encourages the circulation of warm air that can help to prevent the development of ice blockages and subsequent buildup of pressure.
To learn more about how to reduce the risk of bursting pipes or how we can help winterize your home, contact the professionals at Mr. Rooter. Call us today at (541) 210-5437.