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Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc. Blog

What Do I Do If My Pipe Bursts?


If you’ve lived in the Cedar Rapids area for even just a year, then you might already know that burst pipes are a definite risk with our winters. When temperatures dip to below freezing, the threat level of burst pipes rises.

Fortunately, our team has seen a lot of burst pipe issues, and not only can we tell you what causes it and what to do about it, but how to prevent the problem from occurring at all, if possible. Read on to learn more!

What Causes a Pipe to Burst?

The short answer to this question is “freezing temperatures.” Freezing temperatures can lead to frozen pipes, which then leads to burst pipes–but maybe not for the reason you think.

It’s not actually the process of freezing that causes this problem. Yes, when water freezes, it takes up more volume–you’ve likely noticed this if you’ve ever frozen a bottle of water and seen it expand–and that can cause the bottle to eventually crack too. But you might have also noticed, the bottle doesn’t crack until you take it out, and it starts to thaw.

What’s happening is that there is an increase in air pressure inside the water bottle–or in this case, your pipes–as it freezes. The frozen water creates a blockage, and then as the ice thaws, the air is able to break through, and this is when a burst pipe happens.

It’s important to note here that even if the frozen pipe doesn’t lead to a burst pipe, this process can lead to weakened plumbing joints and eventual leaks, anyway.

What To Do If Your Pipe Bursts

If you notice you already have a burst pipe, or that you have frozen pipes, the best thing you can do is call a professional plumber. If the pipe has already burst, then you can relieve the pressure on the pipe by opening up the tap connected to it to let the remaining water out–this way it won’t create further damage.

When your plumber arrives, they will work on safely thawing the pipe–remember, this isn’t something you want to try on your own since this is when the pipe is most likely to burst!

How Is a Burst Pipe Repaired?

Depending on where the burst pipe is, we may replace a section of pipe or the entire affected pipe. In the case of older plumbing, it usually makes the most sense to do a complete repiping to help you avoid this problem in the future, as well as other plumbing problems like leaks.

“Can I Prevent Burst Pipes?”

Yes! You can help prevent frozen pipes by insulating any exposed pipes you have. This includes plumbing in an unfinished basement, and pipes underneath your kitchen, bathroom, and/or garage sinks. You can find pipe insulating sleeves at any hardware store or even online.

You can also help your household avoid frozen and burst pipes by draining any outdoor plumbing fixtures prior to the winter season and leaving the taps open.

For more tips and for professional help with your plumbing, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!

At Dalton Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, Electric and Fireplaces, Inc., your comfort is our promise! To set up an appointment in the Cedar Rapids area, give us a call at the number above, email or schedule an appointment online when you have a burst pipe in Cedar Rapids, IA.

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