What Causes Burst Plumbing Pipes?

A burst plumbing pipe is something you never want to be surprised with. So it's important to keep in mind the different issues that lead to a burst pipe.

Frozen Pipes

The most common cause of burst pipes that the public is aware of is frozen pipes. Your heater breaks in the winter and water inside your pipes freezes, only to cause a blockage that builds up pressure. This one is pretty easy to avoid: Use an alternate heat source (like a space heater) to keep the pipes from freezing, or shut the water off until the heat is back on.

Too Much Water Pressure

You might be faced with an unexpected burst if you suddenly have increased water pressure, such as if water is shut off somewhere nearby and your system can't regulate it. Damaged water valves may be at play here, and it's an issue that is addressed through residential plumbing maintenance.

Misusing Waste Disposal

If you are looking to create a clog, one great way to do it is to throw cigarettes, Q tips, floss, and other small items down the drain. Your plumbing system is designed to handle organic waste products, but these other items don't mesh. They won't break down, and they might just back up the plumbing system and cause a pipe to burst. Is it worth the risk?

Not Pumping a Septic Tank

You can bet that a septic tank experiencing a backup can lead to a burst pipe. That pressure has to go somewhere, and often, the pressure in pipes will get so high that one of them bursts. This one is really simple to avoid: Set a septic tank pumping schedule and stick to it!

Not Maintaining the Plumbing System

Another cause is not catching a plumbing issue before it develops. Consider that something as simple as hair going down your shower drain could lead to a burst pipe. If that hair gets tangled around another object and forms a blockage in the pipe, it will start to build pressure. Most of these issues do not get serious enough before they are caught by a plumber, but that's only if you are sticking to a reasonable maintenance schedule and not just waiting for an emergency.

Avoiding all of these scenarios is something every renter or homeowner should know to do. It just takes that little bit of awareness of the causes of burst pipes. Something you decide to change now about your residential plumbing maintenance could certainly help you avoid a burst pipe down the road.