Why Do Water Pipes Burst? (5 Quick Temporary Fixes)

Have you ever had a pipe burst in your house? It’s a common event that can leave you scrambling to find a quick fix. Maybe it’s 3 a.m. and water is spraying across your kitchen, soaking everything in its path. What should you do at this moment? What can you do to prevent it from happening again?

In this piece, we’ll delve into the reasons behind why water pipes burst and provide you with 5 quick temporary fixes you can use in those panic-filled moments.

Why do water pipes burst?

The burst of water pipes is usually due to several main causes:

  • Frozen: This is among the most frequently cited causes. When the water in the pipe is frozen, it expands. This expands the pressure in the pipe. Eventually, should the pressure become excessive, it will burst the pipe.
  • The buildup of pressure: If there’s a blockage in the pipeline, the pressure will build over it. In time, if this pressure gets too high, it could cause the pipes to burst.
  • Corrosion: As time passes, pipes will begin to corrode due to the interaction of the water and the material inside the pipe. If the pipe is fragile or thin, it may explode.
  • Wear and tear: Like every other material, pipes will get worn out with time. Older pipes that have worn out are more likely to burst.
  • Physical damage: If a pipeline gets injured or physically damaged, it may not explode in a flash, but it could cause a weakness that could eventually cause a burst.
  • Incorrectly laid pipe: Pipes placed incorrectly could be at risk of bursting. For instance, if there is lots of stress on certain areas of a pipe due to it not being laid correctly, it could explode.

What to consider when fixing a burst water pipe

Turn off your water source to prevent further damage if you are fixing a burst water pipe. Evaluate the extent of the damage and decide if you want to fix or change the pipe. Always consider safety first. Use appropriate tools and materials, and consider hiring an expert if the task appears to be beyond your abilities.

Here are some of the most important points to consider:

  • Turn off your water source: The first step to any repair in plumbing is to shut off the water supply to prevent further destruction. Be sure to know where shutoff valves are located in your home.
  • Analyzing the damage: Find out the extent and location of the issue. This will help determine what type of repair is required. If your pipe has become old and shows evidence of wear, you may look into replacing a larger part of the pipe or the whole pipe.
  • The right tools and materials: By assessing damage, ensure you are equipped with the appropriate tools and equipment required for the task. These could include pipe cutters and fittings, pipes for replacement wrenches, sealants, or wrenches.
  • Repair or replace: Based on the severity and extent of damage, you might have to decide if repairs are enough or if it needs a replacement. Smaller cracks are often repaired. However, more severe cracks or holes, particularly in older pipes, could require replacement.
  • Experience and expertise: Have you got the required knowledge and experience to perform the repair? Plumbing is a complicated process, and poor repair can cause further harm in the future. If you’re unsure about the procedure, contacting an experienced plumber is best.
  • Codes and rules for building: Make sure all repair or replacement work is completed in compliance with the local building codes and rules. This may require inspections or permits based on the nature of the work.
  • Safety: Water pipes are risky when done improperly. Be sure to prioritize safety when repairing pipes, particularly if it involves working close to electrical wires or with power tools.
  • Cleaning up water damage: When the pipe is repaired, you’ll have to take care of the water damage caused after the pipe burst. This could involve drying areas, cleaning, and mold growth.

5 quick temporary fixes for when your water pipes burst

If a pipe breaks and bursts, it is crucial to take immediate action to reduce water damage before an expert can complete the entire repair. Here are five ways to temporarily stop the water flow.

1. Use a pipe clamp

Pipe clamps are an essential device to have in an emergency plumbing situation. It’s essentially a strip of metal wrapped around the pipe, then tightened to create a seal around the leak.

It is essential to ensure that you’ve got a clamp that’s appropriate for your pipe size. The clamp is used to apply pressure to the pipe, preventing water from spilling out.

Remember that this is only an indefinite solution, and a trained professional must examine the situation.

2. Apply epoxy putty

Epoxy putty can be described as a fungi-resistant substance that can be used to stop leaks.

Before you apply it, turn off the water and dry the region surrounding the leak. Knead the putty until well-mixed, then apply it to the leak.

It will set and seal the leak within a couple of minutes. Once it is hardened, restart the water and verify that the leak has been stopped.

3. Use a pipe repair kit

A pipe repair kit usually includes a wrap to put over the leak. The first step is to shut off the water and wash the pipe.

Then, you can apply the wrap to the pipe and follow the instructions on the kit.

Most wraps become hard after being immersed in water. Therefore, ensure that you follow the directions carefully. When the wrap has cured, it will prevent the water from leaching.

4. Wrap the tape with waterproof tape

The waterproof tape can also be employed as a temporary fix for small leaks. Be sure that the pipe is dry prior to using the tape.

Begin wrapping a couple of inches away from the leak, then continue to wrap over that to create a solid seal.

Apply several layers to create the strength of the bond. Be aware that this is only a temporary solution.

5. Use a hose and jubilee clips

A garden hose could be an instant fix for leaky pipes.

Cut a hose piece to the size you want, then slit it across its length and place it on top of the burst region.

After that, use a jubilee clip (or the hose clamps) to hold the hose in place over the burst pipe. This will help stop the leak.

How can I prevent my pipes from freezing?

Making sure your pipes aren’t frozen is crucial in colder climates, as freezing could make pipes burst and result in massive water damage.

Three preventative measures that you can implement are:

Make sure your pipes are insulated:

The insulation of your pipes can be among the most effective methods to stop them from freezing.

Pipe insulation is a type of foam tube cut to the right size and wrapped around pipes to keep them warm and lessen the possibility of them freezing.

Ensure to cover the pipes exposed to the elements, particularly those in unheated spaces like garages, basements, and attics.

Make sure you keep a little bit of water flowing:

Keeping a little stream of water running through pipes will help prevent them from freezing when the weather is cold.

The continuous flow of water may assist in stopping the formation of ice. Use this for cold and hot faucets, particularly in pipes that run through exterior walls.

Keep your indoor temperature warm:

A steady temperature inside your home will also help prevent the pipes from freezing.

Do not let your temperature fall drastically throughout a night when you’re away, and the heater is on and set to a temperature that is not less than 55 degrees F (about thirteen degrees Celsius).

This is particularly important when pipes run through walls on the outside that aren’t insulated.

How do I know if my pipes are showing signs of corrosion?

Pipe corrosion could cause numerous issues like leaks in pipes, a decrease in pressure on the water supply, and possible flooding to damage your home. It’s crucial to spot the signs of corrosion as early as possible to avoid these issues.

Here are a few signs that corrosion could be causing damage to your pipes:

  • Discoloration: Pipes with corrosion could change color. Copper pipes could change color. Iron pipes could get rusty and turn red or brown, while lead pipes can change color to gray or white. Any apparent changes in the color of your pipes may be a sign of corrosion.
  • Deposits, stains, and flaky materials: If you observe odd stains, deposits, or flaky materials on the outside of pipes, this indicates that the substance used in the pipe is degrading and may be eroding.
  • Discoloration of water: The water that flows from your faucets is discolored, typically red or brown. It could be the result of the corrosion of pipes. The rust could be mixed with water, creating an obvious color change.
  • Leaks: The effects of corrosion weaken pipes over time, which makes them more susceptible to leaks. Frequent leaks could signal an issue with corrosion.
  • A decrease in water pressure: Corrosion may cause the pipes’ insides to shrink, decreasing the pressure in the water. If you’re experiencing unanswered decreases in pressure, it could be due to corroded pipes. Be the reason.
  • Odd smell or taste: Pipes that have been corroded can alter the smell and taste of tap water. Corrosion in your pipes may be the cause of any metallic flavors or strange smells you experience.
  • Regular plumbing problems: If you’re always seeking help from a plumber to repair your pipe, it might be because of corrosion. The frequent calls are usually a sign of a larger issue.

How long would it take for a pipe to freeze and burst?

Pipes are the most likely to explode when exposed to temperatures below freezing for more than six hours, which can happen throughout the winter and early spring.

A burst pipe can lead to an emergency by causing extensive flooding in your house.

Non-insulated pipes can freeze in just six hours if the temperature falls below 20 degrees.

It can take at most 12 hours for pipes that are not protected to stop freezing at 32 degrees.

What are the warning signs of a pipe that could burst?

You may have a leaky pipe if you can hear the sounds of water rushing through your walls.

The sound you hear differs from the gurgling noise you can hear if the house has fluctuating pressure in the water.

Strange noises are emanating from the pipes

If you notice odd sounds like banging, whistling, or even a clanging sound coming out of pipework, that may indicate something is wrong.

The sounds could result from various causes, such as excessive pressure in the water or an obstruction within the system.

Both could cause a burst pipe if they are not dealt with. Be sure to investigate any unusual noises emanating from the plumbing.

Decreased water pressure

A noticeable drop in water pressure can indicate the pipe may be in danger of exploding. Tiny leaks, blockages, or frozen water within the pipe could cause it.

A decrease in water pressure can be seen in various ways, including the water running out of your faucets or showers that is less powerful than it normally is.

If you are experiencing this, it’s worth checking your pipes.

Visible signs of water damage

If you notice visible evidence of water damage within your home, for instance, discoloration of ceilings, walls, or floors, this could indicate an unreliable pipe that could rupture.

Water stains or clumps could suggest that water is building up, and the pressure could eventually cause the pipe to explode.

Discolored water

If the water flowing from your faucets has discoloration, It could indicate an uncorroded pipe that could eventually explode.

The yellow or brown water can be a sign of corrosion in the system, which could weaken pipes and eventually cause them to burst. It’s always recommended to have your water tested if it is colored.

Unpleasant smells

Odors that are unpleasant can indicate the presence of a problem in your pipes. If there’s a problem with your sewer line or a possible leak, it may create a sewage odor inside your home.

This could mean the pipe is leaky and could explode if it isn’t taken care of. A qualified professional must examine odors that are unusual or unpleasant.

Increasing water bills

If you’re experiencing an unintentional rise in your water bill, It could indicate water leakage within your system.

A water leak that is not visible could result in the pipe breaking. Therefore, it’s a good idea to examine the plumbing if your water bill abruptly rises without any reason.

Frequent clogs or backups

If you’re seeing regular backups or clogs within your plumbing system, this may indicate the pipes in your home are under pressure.

Blockages that persist can lead to pressure building over the pipes, which could eventually result in a pipe breaking.

If you’re constantly experiencing clogs or backups, it could be an appropriate time to call a professional to check your plumbing.

What factors can increase the risk of a pipe bursting?

Pipes within your house or attic may burst due to various causes, mostly extreme temperature changes or the physical condition of the pipes. Knowing these things will help you avoid the damaging and expensive experience of a pipe burst.

There are a few things that could increase the chance of a burst pipe:

Factor 1: Extreme cold weather

One of the most frequent reasons for pipe bursts is cold temperatures. If temperatures drop significantly, the water within pipes may freeze.

When the water freezes and expands, it puts tension on the pipes coming from within. If the pressure is excessive, it could result in the pipe bursting.

Factor 2: Pipe material and age

The materials and timing of your pipes could influence their chances of exploding.

Older pipes made from iron, steel, or copper are more vulnerable to rupture because they are more likely to become corroded as time passes.

Corrosion could weaken the pipe’s walls, making it more vulnerable to bursts.

Factor 3: High water pressure

A high-pressure water supply can place immense pressure on your pipe. If the pressure gets excessive, it could cause a brand new pipe to explode.

Check your water’s pressure using a pressure gauge, and if it’s excessive, then a valve for reducing pressure could be put in place.

Factor 4: Lack of pipe insulation

Insufficient insulation can expose pipes to freezing temperatures that can cause the pipes to freeze and then burst.

This is especially the case for pipes in unheated or outside areas.

By insulating your pipes, you’ll be able to protect them against freezing temperatures.

Factor 5: Clogged pipes

Clogs can lead to an increase in pressure within your pipes. If the blockage isn’t removed, the pressure will increase, which could cause a pipe to burst.

Regular maintenance is a good way to keep clogs out and prevent pressure increases.

Factor 6: Ground movement

This is not usual. However, the movement of the ground can cause pipes to burst. Various causes, like an earthquake or changes in the soil, could cause it.

The movements can make the pipeline shift or bend, resulting in an explosion.

What is normal water pressure?

The force by which your home’s water can enter via the water main will be measured using psi, which is pounds per square inch.

The normal home pipe system’s psi is between 30 and 80 psi. While you should not want your psi too high, any higher than 80 is illegal.

When your water flow is lower than 10 milliliters per minute, you might suffer from low pressure.

A flow rate between 10 and 15 liters per minute can be considered sufficient. However, it could be increased.

A flow rate greater than 15 milliliters per minute is acceptable.

Can pipes burst during warm weather?

Yes, pipes may explode during warm temperatures. It is most likely to happen when there is a sudden change in temperature, such as when a very hot day follows by a cold night.

The water inside the pipes could expand or shrink, which could cause stress on the pipes and result in them bursting.

If the pipe has been exposed to extreme heat for a long time and then suddenly,there is a little rain, the pipe is prone to exploding in a flash.

This is especially true when pipes are poorly maintained and in a bad state.

Is plumbing insulation necessary to prevent pipe bursting?

It is not required to prevent the pipe from bursting. However, it could help to decrease the likelihood of pipes freezing and bursting, particularly in regions that experience cold temperatures.

Insulation keeps pipes warm by capturing heat, which helps prevent the pipe’s inside from freezing.

If you reside in a region that experiences cold winters, insulating pipes in areas that are not heated, like basements, attics, or crawl spaces, is recommended. It is also possible to insulate pipes close to the walls on the outside.

There are several insulation materials, including fiberglass, foam, and reflective.

What should I do in the event of a plumbing emergency?

If you experience an emergency with plumbing, There are a few steps you need to take to avoid further damage to your home:

  • Switch off the water: Find your main shutoff valve and shut off the water to the house. This will cut off running water and prevent further damage. It is important to determine where the main shutoff valve is situated before an emergency.
  • Shut off your water heater: In some instances, particularly if there’s a serious rupture, it’s a great option to shut off the water heater to avoid damage to the appliance. If it’s a gas-powered water heater, switch off the gas before turning it off.
  • Find the issue: Find the root of the issue. Could it be a leaky pipe? Unblocking of the drain? A toilet that isn’t working? The more details you give your plumber, the more efficient he will be.
  • Fix tiny leaks: If you notice small leaks, attempt to stop the leaks temporarily using buckets and towels, tape, or even a sealer if you own one.
  • Get an experienced plumber: If you’re not familiar with plumbing issues, it’s recommended that you contact a professional plumber to solve the issue. They have the knowledge and tools needed to tackle most plumbing emergencies.
  • Record the damages: If you’ve sustained serious damage, it’s important to document the damage to protect yourself. Photographs and videos are taken of the affected area and any damage to your home.

When should I hire a plumber for a busted pipe?

A leak or burst pipe in the plumbing lines can cause dampness in the basement, floors, and ceiling.

If you can tell that the water isn’t coming from the roof following recent rain, it is best to contact a plumber to resolve the problem. Leaks cost homeowners thousands of dollars annually in damage mitigation if they are not addressed.

The first signs of a ruptured pipe might include an abrupt reduction in the pressure of your water, discoloration of the water, or unidentified water puddles inside your home.

In winter, a pipe burst could result from frozen water. The freeze-thaw process can result in pressure buildup within the pipe, leading it to burst.

Certain pipes may also explode due to age, wear, or damage caused during renovations. It is always ideal to call an experienced plumber immediately if you suspect a pipe has burst.

The plumber can determine the cause of the issue, fix the broken pipe, and evaluate the plumbing system for possible issues.

What are the consequences of not repairing a busted pipe?

If a pipe that has burst isn’t repaired, it may result in substantial water damage, an increase in the cost of utilities due to water waste, and the potential for mold to grow because of the damp conditions that could be hazardous for health.

  • Damage from water: Inattention to a broken pipe can lead to water seeping into your home’s structure, like floors, walls, or even your foundation, which can lead to structural damages and costly repairs.
  • More expensive water bills: Leaks of water continuously from a damaged pipe can cause your water bill to go up. Water that is wasted will not just cost you money but can also impact the environment.
  • Growth of mold: Constant moisture from leaky water creates a perfect environment for mildew and mold. When exposed to long-term exposure, it can lead to illnesses such as allergies, respiratory issues, and more severe health problems.

What are the risks associated with pipe corrosion?

Pipes that are corroding pose several hazards that could significantly affect the health of those who live there and the overall integrity of the structure:

  • Water contamination: As pipes age, they release harmful substances such as copper and lead into the water supply. This could harm your health and cause various problems, including developmental issues for children and cardiovascular issues for adults.
  • Pipes that burst or leak: As time passes, corrosion weakens pipes, leading to leaks and even catastrophic failures such as rupture. This could result in massive damage to your property and costly repairs.
  • Pipes that are blocked: Pipes that are corroded often release rust and other debris that can build up and cause obstructions. This could lead to lower water pressure, backup drains, and other plumbing problems.
  • Operating costs are increased: Pipes with corrosion hinder water flow, causing systems such as your boiler or water heater to operate harder, thereby increasing the cost of energy. The frequent repairs caused by pipeline failures can also lead to increased costs.
  • Damage to the structure: Leaks of water from corrosion-prone pipes could destroy the structure of your home, which includes ceilings, walls, and floors. In the worst instances, it could cause structural damage to the structure.

How common is it for pipes to burst?

The rate of pipe bursts depends on several elements, such as the materials of the pipe as well as its age, weather, and how the plumbing system is maintained.

In cooler climates, pipe bursting occurs quite frequently during the winter when pipes aren’t properly constructed to be insulated.

As the water cools in the pipes, it expands and could make the pipe explode.

This is especially a problem when homes aren’t sufficiently heated or if the pipes are located in areas that are not heated, such as a crawl space or garage space.

In terms of the pipe’s material and age, older homes with galvanized or cast iron pipes may be more prone to burst because they are more prone to rust with time.

PVC and copper pipes in newer homes last longer; however, they are not invincible to rupture, particularly when exposed to freezing temperatures or when the water pressure is too high.

Regular inspection and maintenance of the plumbing system will prevent the pipe from bursting. It’s certainly not uncommon, and homeowners must be prepared to handle it, particularly in situations that can increase the risk.

Other interesting articles:

Author: Logan

I help people connect with businesses