Freezing pipes and water damage go hand in hand but why do frozen pipes burst? Freezing pipes don’t burst because of ice expanding in place, it has to do with pressure inside the pipes.
When water freezes, the water molecules expand as they freeze and as the ice expands, it pushes water toward the closed faucet. This causes an immense amount of water pressure to build between the ice blockage and the faucet — eventually, the pipe ruptures under the pressure.
Pipes that are the most at risk of bursting are those located outside of building insulation, or those in unheated interior areas, including basements, attics and crawl spaces.
Heating or insulating pipes with fiberglass or foam sleeves can help prevent them from freezing as well as keeping the facet open and letting the water run — even at just a trickle.
Simple steps to prevent freezing pipes and water damage from occurring in your home:
1. Shut off the water supply and drain pipes or appliances if you will be away from home for even a day or two.
2. Have someone you trust check your home about once per week if you are away.
3. Have emergency numbers handy such as a plumber, electrician, roofer, and Sage Restoration in case something does go wrong.
4. Protect pipes, fittings, and appliances against freezing with insulation or heat strips.
5. Have your HVAC system serviced before leaving if you will be away for an extended period of time.
6. Set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees.
7. Before leaving turn off your water heater. (See owner’s manual for procedures.)
8. Install storm windows and/or close shutters to keep in heat.
9. Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure proper water drainage.
10. Service sump pump to ensure proper operation. Adding a backup power source is prudent.