Pipes carrying water may be made of metal but are still prone to burst under certain conditions and learning those conditions can help prevent your plumbing from bursting which could result in extensive repairs.  

Frozen water in pipes 

Water when cooled will expand to the point of bursting the pipe. Usually it will be the weakest area of the pipes, however the expanded water can burst the pipe anywhere. The recommended solution is to insulate the pipes and try to keep the area warm or have warm airflow in the cold. Usually this is done by keeping the thermostat around 55 degrees Fahrenheit even if you are away, however you should check to see if the warm air reaches all the pipes or areas are obstructed.  

Corrosion 

Water can contain a few things that can be corrosive on your plumbing. The water can impurities, pH imbalance, bacteria in the water that can cause corrosion to the pipes. If you have an unground electrical connection or possibly a lightning strike that hits the piping it can cause corrosion as well.  If you have pipes made from iron, the minerals can also break down the coating and leave the iron susceptible to rusting as well.  A way to prevent corrosion is to check the condition and pH levels of your water from the source and where the water comes out. If the water has high mineral count from the municipal source, then you might have to talk to your municipal about fixing it, however if It’s just your home with this issue you may have to add a filtration system right after the water comes in. If there are issues with your water upon leaving the faucet but not at the source, then you may have to change your plumbing where there is an issue, or it may be your water heater that may need addressing.  

Worn out  

Pipes age and as with corrosion debris in the water and the environment around the plumbing can break down the pipes to the point of tearing or susceptible to bursting with added pressure. If you have high mineral count in your water or debris such as sand and dirt, these minerals or debris can either scratch the coating inside or damage the pipe itself weakening it. If you have unsecured pipes or the mechanisms holding the pipes have become loose, the pipes can move slightly with use and over time the movement’s friction can wear down the pipes or weaken the joints.  

Improper installation 

When pipes are installed, they have to be connected to other pipes to fit in the needed area. These connections can be installed improperly resulting in weak areas that can fail with added pressure, over time due to corrosion, or being worn out. These connections could be a seal where pipes are connected by threading together or a bad solder or weld point. Regular visual inspections of the conditions of the connections and joints can reduce the risk of them failing before you notice that they need to be replaced or repaired. 

Pressure 

Even a metal pipe can burst given enough pressure. You can check your pressure with a pressure gauge at the faucet. Most homes water pressure will be between 40-60psi, however most homes have their pressure regulator set at 50psi. After the main water shutoff valve is where you can usually find these or should be installed and they can be adjusted to lower the water pressure from the municipality or other water source. A water heater has a pressure release valve that will open if the pressure is too high (commonly 150psi) and releases some pressure, however these shouldn’t be used as a common regulator and should this valve open regularly you should call a plumber to get your water pressure under control. 

Signs to look for:

There are some signs to look for that can help prevent a pipe from bursting or help identify small leaks to prevent further damage. If you spot these issues, call Wittmaier Plumbing at 856-858-1965 to inspect the damage and offer solutions.  

Water hammer 

Water hammer refers to the sound made from hydraulic shock from the water stopping or changing directions suddenly. Usually this is after turning off a water valve or when an appliance turns off the water. These sudden stops can rock the pipes and weaken joints or spots which can burst with added pressure. 

Rust 

Rust is a sign of corrosion or there is a potential for a clog from the rust debris.  

Moisture 

If you feel a pipe and notice moisture, you may have a small leak and the water is running along the pipes or it may be just condensation.  

Discolored Water 

Discolored water indicates there may be something in the water including rust and rust is a sign of corrosion.  

Loss of water pressure 

Loss of water pressure can be a sign of a clog or potentially a leak where the pressure is being released.  

Stains on Walls or Ceiling 

Stains on walls or ceilings are a sign of water and it could be from a leak in your plumbing or potentially a hole in your roof and rainwater is getting in.