Why Do Pipes Freeze?

When temperatures drop down below 32ºF, it’s no surprise that water freezes. But what you might not realize is that this is also the case for any stagnant water sitting inside your plumbing system. Frozen pipes can lead to major disasters, so we’re here to provide you with some expert tips and tricks for preventing pipe bursts.

What Causes Pipes To Freeze?

If all is in good working order, when you turn on a faucet or a plumbing fixture anywhere inside your home, water flows through the pipes and out of the faucet where you need it. When you turn the fixture off, water stops flowing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t stagnant water still sitting in the pipes.

This is why things can quickly go awry when temperatures drop below freezing. If your pipes aren’t insulated, especially those located in colder areas of the house (think exterior walls, garages, basements, crawl spaces, etc.) the stagnant water inside these pipes can freeze.

So, why does this cause pipes to burst? Well, as water freezes, it expands. This puts pressure on the interior walls of the pipes and if enough pressure builds up, it can cause the pipes to give way and rupture. And you guessed it, once the frozen water inside the pipes melt following a burst, it will start to leak out into your home.

How To Avoid Burst Pipes

The best thing a homeowner can do is to insulate pipes before temperatures drop. We suggest wrapping pipes that run along exterior walls of your home, and those you might find in any of the areas listed above.

Feel for drafts wherever you can access pipes in the house. Pipes under sinks are likely to freeze at the bend, where ice can collect until it blocks the flow completely. It’s also a good idea to insulate these pipes under your sinks.

Should you find yourself in a situation where it’s too late for insulation and you suspect your pipe has already frozen, it’s vital to call in an expert plumber right away. That’s where we come in!

A burst pipe can result in a flood of water crashing through the ceiling or pouring across a broken bathroom floor. Call American Mechanical for help at (757) 347-8549!


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