Have you ever wondered what exactly happens when a pipe bursts? No one wants it to happen in their home, but if you understand precisely how frozen water becomes a hazard for your pipes, you'll know better how to prevent the problem. Here's an easy science lesson on what happens when pipes burst.
The impact of frozen water on pipes
The water in your plumbing pipes behaves the way you want it to, moving freely from the source to the sinks, dishwasher, and showers, without harm or foul. However, once the state of the water changes, it behaves very different. When temperatures drop below freezing, the water in liquid state starts to harden, or freeze.
If you've ever filled a container to the rim with water, put a lid on it, and stuck it in the freezer, you know that when you go to get the container out of the freezer later, the force the of the water expanding often pushes the lid of the container right off. This same force is at work inside your pipes when the water freezes.
In scientific terms, the molecules in frozen water actually take on a different shape, forming a hexagon. This is why water in a frozen state is larger. It simply takes up more space. Think about water freezing inside the constricted space of the plumbing pipes. As the water starts expanding, it puts pressure on the pipe walls - no matter the material, be it PVC, iron or lead.
An initial freezing of water inside the pipes may not be enough to cause the pipes to burst, but repeated freezing water can eventually weaken the walls and damage their integrity. Additionally, as the frozen water expands, it exerts enormous pressure on the entire section of pipes between the blockage itself and the faucet to which the pipes lead. Eventually, the pipe will burst, sending gallons of water onto the floor, damaging walls, flooring and ceilings.
A plan of attack
If your pipe bursts, the first thing you want to do is turn off the main water supply to stop the flow of water into the space - if you're at home. If you're not at home, you'll soon find out what happened, and the damage will be steep. The best way to prevent having to deal with a pipe burst is to insulate the pipes in your home that run through cold areas or along exterior walls. If you're going out-of-town, keep the home's temperature fairly warm to avoid extremes where water in the pipes could freeze. Before you head out-of-town, turn the main water supply off and let the pipes drain.
If you'd like more information about preventing problems like pipes bursting or drain clearing, get help from the local experts. For answers to your questions, contact the Pink Plumber today.
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