A Better Understanding of Burst Pipes in the Home


Everyone in Britain has heard about burst pipes and maybe you yourself have been the victim of one! The last thing anybody needs at 2 am in the morning, is having to call a local plumber because of a burst pipe in their home. Heaven forbid! And then, just imagine if you’re away for a day, or a week, and the inevitable happens! Your poor lovely home!

But what exactly is it that happens when water causes metal to split, and what can you do about it, if it happens to you?

The Cause

Water naturally expands as it turns into ice. In a pipe, ice will first form on the inside and then slowly spread inward until there is a solid filling of ice stuck inside of it. When this happens, the expanded frozen water in the pipe, pushes water back into the water main. When the pipe is completely blocked with ice, it seals water between the formed ice and the closed valve. If more ice is created between the blockage and the closed valve, the expanding ice has nowhere to go, and causes the pipe to rupture at its weakest point. A professional plumber in Southampton will know what has happened and how to expertly remedy the problem.

Can hot water pipes burst?

You may believe that hot water would prevent any pipes from bursting, right? Surely, hot water pipes are less likely to burst because of the higher temperature of the water inside of them and this would make the formation of ice crystals more difficult to occur. But no, should the conditions be right, hot water, and therefore a hot water pipe, freezes faster than a cold water one because of the Mpemba effect. Although it is not fully understood why hot water freezes faster, scientists say that the highly charged hydrogen bonds in water, give it particular properties.

If you get a burst pipe, try to reduce any damage by:

  1. Turning off the water supply

Turn off the main stop tap – find out (the sooner the better) where the stop tap(s) are located, so you can stop the flow. Then, drain the cold water system by turning on all cold taps. Also, keep a watch on ceilings. If there is a bulge due to water leakage, make a hole and drain it.

  1. Turn off water heating systems

Switch off your central heating, immersion heater or any other water heating systems. Once your water heating has shut down, turn on the hot taps to help drain the system.

  1. Turn off all electrics

Do NOT touch any wet electrical fittings – lights, sockets or appliances. Switch off the electricity supply as soon as possible and call an electrician.

  1. Professional

Call a professional plumber to expertly repair the damage. Make sure that the plumber is a qualified and experienced expert.

Finally, there are some other reasons why a pipe may fail and you should call a plumber, such as age, misuse or damage, so have a look around, and make sure yours aren’t in any of those categories!

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