Pipes are essential components of any plumbing system. As a homeowner, you depend on them to safely and effectively carry water to and from the home. Given this crucial function, it's no surprise that a burst pipe can easily disrupt the household and require immediate repairs and cleanup. To better understand and prevent this issue, below is an overview of what causes burst pipes and how to avoid these situations.


Cold weather is one of the most common causes of burst pipes. Once temperatures dip below freezing, there is a greater likelihood that water will freeze inside the pipes. As the water freezes, pressure in each pipe accumulates as well. When the pressure can no longer be contained, a pipe can burst.

Another common cause is age. Older pipes may be made of ineffective materials, or suffered wear and tear from regular daily usage. Pipes are designed to last—but they don't last forever.

Tree roots can also burst pipes. As trees grow, the roots penetrate deeper into the soil, and they can encroach upon your home's plumbing system, exerting pressure on pipes until they break.

If you have particularly hard water, your pipes may be more prone to issues. Hard water contains minerals and sediment that can, over time, collect in pipes and clog them. When water can't freely flow around the clogs, pressure builds and pipes burst.


The effects of burst pipes can be destructive to a home. A burst pipe will almost always result in some type of water damage; this damage can destroy walls, flooring, ceilings, and large appliances.

plumbingIf water damage isn't tended to right away, it can trigger potentially harmful mold growth. Also, a burst pipe will often interrupt the water supply to your home and leave you without water until the issue is fixed.


Because cold temperatures pose the greatest risk to pipes, it's important to implement prevention measures throughout the winter months. Maintain consistent heat inside the home, no lower than 55 degrees, to keep pipes warm. Allow the heat to reach the pipes by opening cabinet doors below sinks in the bathroom and kitchen.

Leave the water running at a slow drip to ensure it keeps moving through pipes and has less opportunity to freeze. Just a slight trickle from a faucet or two can be helpful.

Also, you can purchase pipe sleeves or electrical heat tape to apply to exposed pipes. These help the pipes stay warm even in freezing temperatures. A plumbing professional can install these products for you.


Always have a burst pipe repaired by a plumber as soon as possible. Valley Mechanical has been serving the counties of Ontario, Yates, and Steuben in New York since 1999. They offer a variety of plumbing services, including pipe repair, furnace installation, and sewer snaking. Call (585) 374-6866, or visit them online to request a quote or schedule service.