Burst pipes can happen at any time, but the most common time they occur in Maryland is during the chilly winter months. The older your home is, the more likely your pipes will leak. Burst pipes can go unnoticed for days, weeks, or months until you see signs of staining from water damage. Water damage and freezing account for 29.4% of homeowners insurance claims, with an average cost of $11,098 per claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute. At Abend Plumbing and Heating, we want to help you prevent burst pipes before they occur so your home stays leak-free year-round.
The Most Common Causes of Burst Pipes
While most homeowners and renters with plastic pipes don’t have to worry about age, homes with metal or copper pipes should be vigilant. Regular maintenance and service can prolong their life, but eventually, you will need to replace them. When aging pipes corrode or deteriorate, they become brittle, which means pressure can cause them to burst.
The most common reason for burst pipes is a clog. If your child flushes a toy, you’ll probably know right away to have it removed from a professional like Abend Plumbing and Heating. But over time, hair, minerals, food scraps, toilet paper, wet wipes, and sediment can build up in the pipes undetected, eventually preventing water from flowing. When the pressure becomes too much, the pipe will burst, throwing water and the clogged mess everywhere.
Avoid putting anything down the drain — especially oil — and use an inexpensive drain screen on all sinks to prevent anything but water and soap from going down the drain. Getting a water softener can limit the number of minerals building up inside the pipes if you have hard water.
We have to worry about freezing pipes for a few months each year in Maryland. If your pipes aren’t well insulated, they could freeze if they get below 32 degrees. When water freezes, it expands, causing burst pipes. One way to prevent pipes from freezing when there isn’t enough insulation is to leave the water trickling at night or when the weather is below freezing.
If you have plants, shrubs, or trees growing near your house, there’s a chance the root system could grow into your pipes. As the roots continue to expand, they put pressure on the pipes and push them out of the way, causing a break in the pipe structure. Regular maintenance and service can help you identify any problem roots with existing trees. If you plan to plant new trees, make sure you know how wide and deep the root system will grow so you can avoid planting them near your underground pipes.
Your home’s water pressure should be between 30 and 80 psi, or pounds per square inch. Anything higher than 80 psi could put too much pressure on your pipes, as the water volume running through is too much for them to hold. This would usually cause a sudden burst with a noticeable drop in water pressure. If you think your water pressure may be too high or too low, or don’t know if it’s the right psi, call us at Abend Plumbing and Heating to have one of our specialists check.