Common Causes of Broken Pipes

Broken pipes not only cause household damage: they make headlines, too. Recently, we read the story of the Missouri homeowner who was out of town for a brief getaway when a common water supply line inside his house ruptured. He returned to find that his home had been inundated with nearly 45,000 gallons of water in his absence. Broken pipes can inflict severe water damage to structure and valuables, as well as make a house toxic due to mold growth. Most pipe ruptures fall into one of three categories:

broken pipesFreezing

In winter, it’s a major cause of indoor water damage. Anywhere they are contacted by air below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, pipes may freeze and rupture. Pipes in unconditioned areas like crawl spaces and attics are at particular risk. Placing slip-on foam insulating sleeves on accessible pipes helps prevent freezing. So does sealing cracks and openings that allow frigid outside air into crawl spaces or exterior walls where pipes are routed.

Corrosion

While galvanized steel pipes have long been known for corrosion and rupture, copper pipes may internally degrade as well, leading to eventual failure. A major factor in the corrosion of copper pipes is the pH factor of the local municipal water supply. Water with a pH below 7 is acidic and over time corrodes copper piping from the inside out. A red flag is the appearance of pinhole leaks that “weep” small amounts of water. Because they may mask severe internal corrosion and an impending catastrophic pipe rupture, pinhole leaks should never be ignored. Contact a plumber ASAP.

Water Pressure

Water pressure straight from the municipal water supply line would be too high for your household plumbing. Therefore,  a pressure regulator at the meter reduces pressure to a safe level of about 40 to 50 p.s.i. However, if the regulator is defective or out of adjustment, pressure may rise high enough to cause pipe rupture. A plumber can attach a gauge to check the pressure, then check the regulator if necessary.

For more on recognizing and addressing issues that cause broken pipes, contact Rytech, Inc.

Tags: , , , ,

Return to the Blog Home Page