Why Do Pipes Burst When They Freeze?

It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare—frozen and burst pipes. Frozen pipes in Philadelphia don’t just make it more difficult and inconvenient to enjoy a warm bath or shower; they often burst and cause mold and mildew damage to surrounding drywall and insulation. But why do pipes freeze and burst and how can you prevent your home from becoming a victim of this winter weather hazard?

Water is unique because unlike most materials, it expands when it is frozen. If you’ve ever overfilled an ice cube tray with water, you’ve probably noticed that you ended up with a gigantic brick of ice instead of neat cubes. When water freezes and expands, it also puts intense pressure on whatever container it’s being held in. If you’ve ever accidentally left a 6-pack of soda in your car during the winter only to find a sticky mess and broken cans the morning after, it’s because the water in the soda froze, expanded, and exerted so much pressure on the can that the structure of the aluminum was sacrificed. This is the same process that causes your pipes to burst in the winter; when water is left to sit in your pipes, it too expands and causes the pipe to crack or burst when the mass of frozen water becomes too large.

So, how can you protect your home from frozen pipes? Start by draining water from your swimming pool and sprinkler systems as these are often two of the first piping systems to burst when cold weather arrives. Remember to keep your garage doors closed if there are exposed pipes in your garage and invest in insulation to help prevent the water in your pipes from freezing and expanding. Finally, if you experience a pipe crack or burst in your home, call Guaranteed Plumbing & Heating, Inc. at 215-240-8610 for fast and affordable emergency plumbing in Philadelphia that will help prevent further damage to your home.