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What Causes Burst Water Pipes In Plumbing

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  • 20-02-2023
What Causes Burst Water Pipes In Plumbing

What causes burst water pipes in plumbing? Robert Cliff Ltd are local plumbers for Uppingham, Rutland, Leicestershire. Find out more about the main causes of burst water pipes and how to prevent burst pipes.

Why do water pipes burst

One of the most common claims that homeowners make on their home insurance is burst water pipes. But what exactly causes the pipes to burst? And the all-important question is how can you prevent these water pipes from bursting on your own property? A burst pipe is almost always the result of a change in temperature.

Once water freezes, it begins to expand, and if this happens within a pipe, then the ice will cause the inside of the pipe to burst. Once the water thaws out after the temperature returns to normal, the pipe will begin to leak. This means that although a pipe may burst during a time of low temperatures, below freezing, you might not actually notice the effects until the temperature has risen again.

The leading causes of burst water pipes


When blockages or clogs form within a pipe, it leads to a huge build-up of pressure. If a water line remains to be blocked for an extended period of time, then the water within the pipe will just continue to back up.

Of course, this causes much higher water pressure within the piping system, and this can very easily lead to leaks occurring, as well as, eventually, a full pipe rupture.

Even small blockages within pipes can cause massive amounts of property damage if they are left unresolved. This is why it is so important for you to solve any blockage issues as quickly as possible.

What Causes Burst Water Pipes In Plumbing - Local Plumber Leicestershire

If you have a blockage that you cannot easily find a solution to on your own, then you need to get in touch with a professional plumber.

They will be able to remove the blockage before it becomes an issue that costs you even more. In order to avoid blockages and clogs in the future, try to install drain covers in your sinks, showers, and baths. This should go some ways to prevent clogs from starting in the first place.

 Weak Pipes

If you are the owner of an older home, or if you have ever had to deal with any type of plumbing emergency, then you will have a strong idea of the amount of stress your property's pipes are put under every single day. If your pipes are not looked after adequately, if they are corroded, unprotected, or overall just weakened, then over time, the chance of your pipes leading to an emergency situation is high.

There is a good chance that at some point, either your pipes or what connects your pipes will burst. Corrosion means that the pipes' materials that make up their structure are getting thinner and less durable. This will continue to happen until they finally crack or burst open due to pressure pushing on one of their weak points.

 High Pressure

All the pipes in your home are under extreme pressure every day. The pressure is important for them to do the job they are designed for, but it can sometimes lead to accidents occurring. Excessive water pressure will lead to unnecessary stress on your plumbing, which will lead to burst pipes and leaks occurring.

Listen out when around your home. If you often hear banging in your pipes, then this is a sign that you are dealing with high water pressure. This sound is known as a water hammer. It may mean that the water pressure coming from your supplier to your property is too high.

 Tree Roots

When root systems grow in your back garden, then can lead to excessive pressure on your pipes. This is especially true in areas with compacted soil. The excess pressure leads to pipes leaking and cracking open. As trees grow over time, their roots will start to reach further and further into the soil. These roots are highly attracted to any signs of underground water, especially sewer lines.

Unfortunately, water pipes are very rarely strong enough on their own to stop tree roots from taking hold of them. When tree roots begin to take hold of an underground pipe, the roots will continue to grow and increase the amount of pressure on the pipe until the structure cannot take it anymore and it bursts open.

The best way to prevent this from occurring is to ensure that when you are planting trees and shrubs, they are as far away from your property's underground water pipes as you can manage. If you currently suspect that roots have already invaded your property's water lines, then you need to get in contact with a professional. They can use a camera probe in order to inspect your pipes for any signs of breaks or invasive roots.

 Hard Water

The water we drink and use every day contains a large variety of different naturally occurring minerals. Water with a plethora of magnesium and calcium inside is commonly known as hard water. Hard water is usually perfectly fine to drink, but it can lead to a lot of issues with appliances and especially plumbing. Over time, the minerals can build up within pipes, and this will stop water from flowing as it should.

Eventually, the minerals will corrode the piping's material and weaken the system. The most effective way of preventing the issues that come with hard water is to install a water treatment system. This will help to remove some of the calcium and magnesium from the water.


Frozen pipes can happen to just about anyone. Even people who live in warmer areas can still have to contend with a frozen pipe from time to time.

As the water within your pipes gets colder and colder, it will begin to freeze. Once frozen, the water will expand, causing issues with pressure.

The early warning signs for a freezing pipe can be very easy to miss, as in some cases, water will still be able to pass through the piping. It will just be at a much slower rate. As the water in one area of the pipe begins to freeze, pressure starts to build.

Frozen pipes - What Causes Burst Water Pipes In Plumbing

Once the pressure is too much for the piping, it will then crack or burst. Pipes that are most likely to freeze are those in unheated attics, sprinkler lines, and pipes that run in parallel to insufficiently insulated external walls.

It is important for homeowners to ensure that their water pipes are insulated and carefully monitor them if temperatures start to drop below freezing.

Which pipes can burst?

Burst pipes can occur anywhere on a property where there is flowing water, even hot water pipes can sometimes freeze. In fact, you might not know that warm water can freeze much faster than cold water. This means that hot water pipes are at a much higher risk of freezing and bursting than cold water pipes.

Any plastic pipes are also at a high risk of bursting, whereas copper piping is a much more safe option. Plastic pipes are much more flexible than copper pipes, which means under usual circumstances, they can withstand a higher amount of pressure. However, when the plastic is cold, it becomes a risk as the material is much more brittle and likely to break.

How do I know if my pipes are frozen?

Once the pipes around your property become frozen, there are a few signs that you can identify which may help you realise what has happened.

Firstly, if you pick up an odd smell emerging from your taps or your drains, and there is only a small amount of water coming from your taps, then this is a common indicator that you have a frozen pipe on the property.  You also need to monitor the air temperature getting any lower than freezing. Look to see whether there are any signs of frost on the exterior of your home's pipes.

Do you require plumbing servicing? We offer services to both domestic and commercial customers Uppingham, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough and Rutland. Our charges are highly competitive and realistic. If you are experiencing problems with your central heating - Please contact us.