Unfortunately, some New England homeowners don’t ever consider what causes pipes to burst until they’re up to their ankles in a plumbing emergency. As we head into winter, the weather has been unusually warm, but it won’t stay that way forever. It’s vital to prepare your home’s plumbing to do what it does best—keep the water inside your pipes.

In this blog, we’re sharing common reasons why pipes burst, along with expert tips on how to prevent this from happening while safeguarding your plumbing this winter.

With cold temperatures on the way, let’s get right into it.

Understand where you live

It’s important to understand that pipe bursting is one of the more common plumbing issues homeowners will face. In New England, it’s especially common.

Why? Because of the seasonal nature of our region and the abundance of older, historic homes.

Each of these facts on their own would be enough to worry about, but when you put aging pipes and freezing temperatures together, it’s the perfect recipe for a costly plumbing disaster.

Here are some tips to help you get ahead of any potential emergencies waiting for you this winter:

  • Consider the age of your home. If you’ve lived there for decades, then you may have a sense of your home’s plumbing. On the other hand, you may be tempted to overlook it, as you assume things will always continue to work fine. Get an expert opinion to learn whether your home’s plumbing is as sturdy as you think.
  • Ask questions about plumbing issues before you buy a house. When buying a house, remember that while it may be new to you, it’s not “new” unless it was constructed recently. Many people buy older homes across Massachusetts and Rhode Island without asking about their plumbing or quality. Even a home that is a few decades old can have issues.

Another item to consider is the town in which you live. Does the infrastructure have recorded problems? Do sewer lines get backed up often? Have there been water line issues in your current or future neighborhood?

Even a few instances of problems like these can be indicators of future trouble down the road.

What causes pipes to burst and how to prevent it

Let’s go over the most frequent causes of pipe bursting, along with what you can do to prevent this nightmare from happening in your home.

Biggest cause: Frozen water in pipes

This is perhaps the most well-known cause, as it’s also one of the biggest. When temperatures reach below freezing, the water in your pipes freezes into solid ice. When this happens, your problem becomes two-fold:

  1. The solid ice expands and breaks your pipes open.
  2. The remaining liquid water has nowhere to go and thus creates pressure, which causes your pipes to burst.

Either scenario is hardly ideal. So, let’s explore how can you avoid this costly and messy scenario.

What you can do about it

  • Insulate your pipes to keep them warm
  • Let faucets drip at a low and steady rate
  • Shut your garage door to keep cold air from freezing your pipes
  • Leave cupboards open to warm the plumbing

Frozen pipes are by far the number one culprit for pipe bursts in New England. However, aged plumbing and shoddily connected water lines only make this issue more common.

“I live in an older home. What should I do?”

What causes pipes to burst is only part of the story. Preventing the issue, especially if you live in an older home, is a whole other conversation.

Thankfully, it’s not a complicated one.

By scheduling a maintenance check with a local plumber, you can get a professional determination of your home’s plumbing needs. A check-up rarely takes long and can provide you with the answers you need to prevent your pipes from bursting.

A local plumber can check your home for cold spots that may likely lead to frozen pipes. We can also insulate your pipes for you, among other helpful services.

When you schedule a call, ask your plumber these questions:

  • How is the quality of my home’s water pipes? Do any of them need to be replaced?
  • Can you please check for signs of improper fitting, sealing, and corrosion?
  • Does my basement have enough insulation to protect my home’s pipes? If not, what do you recommend?

Your trusted local plumber will be able to check for all these potential issues and more. Once you know what causes pipes to burst, you’re in a better position to ask the right questions and take action.

Bottom line

Burst pipes are costly, messy, and time-consuming problems that no homeowner wants to face. Take the proper steps now to ensure that your home is prepared for winter.

Let us perform a home check-up to see if your home’s pipes are at risk. We’re also a certified MassSaves® partner, which means we can identify your home’s energy needs and provide free to low-cost solutions that may prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place.

Contact us for your home plumbing diagnosis, and get it done right the first time!

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