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How to deal with a burst pipe don’t panic

This winter has been particularly challenging, with temperatures ping-ponging between arctic chills and sudden warm spikes, on top of snow, rain, and everything icy in-between. During these chilly times, warnings typically circulate about the freezing and bursting of pipes — but what’s actually happening in those pipes, how can it best be prevented before it causes you a potentially costly problem, and when is it time to repair a burst pipe?

A common assumption is that pipes burst due to the water within the pipes freezing, with the actual burst coming from the water expanding as it becomes solid. Interestingly enough, this is a misconception. Pipe bursts in sub-freezing temperatures typically occur due to water pressure. Once the water begins to freeze, it creates a solid blockage within the pipe. As the water molecules become solid, they do expand, pushing the water within the pipe downstream and creating a spike in water pressure between the newly formed blockage, and a closed valve, such as a faucet. With nowhere for the newly formed pressure to be released, the pressure pushes radially outward, causing pipe failure — commonly referred to as a “pipe burst”.

This explanation also clears up the “why” behind letting your faucet slightly drip in freezing temperatures. Though some would believe this is a ploy, letting the faucet drip provides an outlet for the water pressure to escape, rather than building up within the pipe and bursting outward. The drip does not need to be heavy — it can be very light — and if the faucet has both ho

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t and cold water lines, both should be opened to slightly contribute to the drip, as both lines are separately potentially at risk.

Of course, this preventative technique is not a guaranteed solution to combat frozen pipes or prevent a pipe burst in your house. An easy way to tell if are dealing with a pipe burst is if your faucet experiences an immediate, severe drop in water pressure. If you suspect a pipe burst in your house, shut the water off at the main shut-off immediately, and contact a certified professional. Additionally, unplug any electronic devices in the affected areas, to avoid potential shocks or fires.

Even with water slightly running from the faucet, water within the pipes can still freeze. If you open a faucet, and no water flows, don’t risk it. This could mean a pipe has burst, or it could be the sign of a much more serious issue, which is why it is important to immediately call a plumber to diagnose what is wrong, to prevent any further damage, and for your own safety and security. Above all else, do not attempt to thaw a frozen pipe, especially with an open flame, as this could easily lead to much more serious issues, such as a building fire.

If you’re seeking top technicians for burst pipe repairs, call Duane Blanton Plumbing, Sewer and Drainage at (815) 781-2567. We can diagnose, repair, and replace any pipes causing your problems, and help you prevent pipe bursts in the future.


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