When a water line bursts in your house, it can feel like it's you against the world. However, the unfortunate fact is that most homeowners will be forced to cope with the messy, damaging problem of a burst pipe at some point in their lives.
If you're currently in need of burst pipe repair, you might be wondering what caused damage to your lines and how you can prevent it from happening again—like, EVER.
We'll get to that, but first a word of warning: if you haven't gotten the line repaired yet, do not under any circumstances turn on the water supply until it is fixed. Running your tap for even a minute or two can cost thousands of dollars worth of catastrophic water damage.
The best course of action is to ensure your main water valve is turned off, and then call a professional plumber such as your local expert technicians at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Salem, OR for emergency plumbing services.
What Causes Pipes to Burst?
There are several common reasons why lines sometimes burst, and they usually (but not always) are preceded by warning signs that tend to be ignored. It's worth noting that, while there are numerous ways that lines can become damaged and broken, bursting is a result of pressure being applied to the inside (or outside) of the pipeline that causes a crack. In cases of severe damage, the pipe can be completely blasted apart into little pieces.
High Water Pressure
We all love having strong water pressure coming into our fixtures. But, when it comes to what your system is capable of handling, there's definitely such a thing as too much pressure.
Depending on the size and type of your lines, it's possible that water pressure in your home exceeded the maximum allowed pressure. Going a little over that maximum shouldn't cause too much trouble, but a significant increase will damage the pipeline.
The manufacturer will generally label the part with maximum allowable pressure so the engineer knows how to calibrate it, but if your water system was installed incorrectly or the pressure has changed over time, it can simply be too much.
Prevention Tip: If you suspect that your water pressure is too high for your pipes, you'll need to decide whether to lower water pressure or put in replacement pipes with a larger diameter.
Even in a place like Salem where temperatures don't dip below freezing on average in the winter, cold weather is a major cause of busted water pipes.
Here's how it happens: there's always water sitting in your lines, and if it freezes, it expands by about nine percent. That might not seem like a lot, but it can apply pressures of up to 3,000 psi (pound-force per square inch) and, with no way to dissipate, that pressure bursts the line open.
The pipelines that are in unheated areas of your walls in areas such as your garage, attic, and crawlspace are most susceptible to freezing, especially when you're away from home and the heat is turned off.
Prevention Tip: Pipes in vulnerable, unheated areas should be insulated to avoid freezing. In a pinch, keep a trickle of water running to prevent them from freezing solid—but this is only a temporary emergency solution as it'll cost you on your water bill.
If you're thinking, "there's no way a tree root can squeeze hard enough to break a pipe," we're here to tell you it can and does happen all the time. Trees that aren't even on your property can have far-reaching roots that tangle themselves in and out (and around) your water and sewer lines.
Naturally, roots grow longer and thicker over time, and they don't stop when they run out of space—they keep applying pressure to the outside of the pipe until it cracks. Then the tree sends root tendrils into the tiniest cracks and gaps. When those tendrils touch water, they begin to grow rapidly and apply even more pressure inside pipes, breaking them apart completely.
Prevention Tip: While you can't totally avoid tree roots, you can get steel or PVC pipes installed which are more resistant to roots. You can also have Mr. Rooter reline your existing pipes with a sleeve that hardens and helps prevent root intrusion.
Everyone knows the pain of dealing with clogs in your sewer system; that's what plungers are for! But, clogs can build up over time to the point where no amount of elbow grease is going to be able to dislodge them.
Because we often ignore partial clogs or think we've got them fixed as long as the water (eventually) goes down the drain, the clog narrows available space for water to flow past—and that increases the water pressure. Since we already learned about the effects of high pressure on your lines, you can guess what happens next: your pipe bursts under the strain, creating a problem far worse than the original clog.
Prevention Tip: Properly maintaining your water lines with annual cleaning will clear out clogs before they can cause a problem. Mr. Rooter uses high-powered jetting to scour your pipes and extend their life.
Your exterior pipelines are buried under a heavy load of soil, which is fine under normal circumstances. But the soil can shift over time (or from seismic activity), adding pounds of pressure that wear on your pipes and can cause bursting.
Sometimes the soil shifts because of human activity—for example, a renovation that involves heavy machines could put undue pressure on your lines, or heavy construction near your property can cause tremors in the earth that cause the soil to move and compact.
Prevention Tip: You can't do much about earthquakes, but be aware of what's happening on or near your property so you can be proactive about checking for possible damage caused by soil shifting.
Mr. Rooter Has the Experience and Skill to Handle Burst Pipe Repairs
Coping with a plumbing disaster and need burst pipe repair? Pick up the phone any time of the day or night—Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Salem, OR provides emergency after-hours service with no overtime fees.
Call us at 503-343-4685, or request a job estimate online, and we'll get your pipes repaired and water running again so you can relax and enjoy your home.