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Why Do Pipes Burst in the Winter?

It’s a nightmare scenario that no homeowner ever wants to find themselves dealing with: burst pipes. Burst pipes are more than just an annoying inconvenience—they can allow water into insulation and walling, leading to expensive water damage and mold growth. Plumbing companies that serve Collegeville, PA, most often sees burst pipes in the winter season. As the temperature starts to cool down, anticipating and preventing pipe emergencies is one of the most effective ways that homeowners can avoid damage to their property. But why do pipes burst in the first place, and what should you do if you find your pipes have exploded?

Water molecules are polarized—this means that they have one positive end and negative end of each molecule. This polarization means that water molecules are attracted to one another’s opposite ends. When water cools down, the molecules pack tightly together and become denser. However, this compaction is at competing odds with the molecule’s individual desire to stick together in a way that works with the “opposites attract” rule. The result is a unique crystalline structure that’s expansive, larger in size, and loosely connected by hydrogen bonds—ice.

When water freezes, ice crystals expand and take up more room in our pipes. Ice takes up about nine percent more room than its liquid counterpart. This may not seem like a huge difference but remember that pipes do not have the ability to stretch to accommodate this extra space. Thus, when still water is allowed to sit in your plumbing system in Gilbertsville, PA, in the winter and freeze, it may expand so dramatically that the pipe cannot handle the extra volume, resulting in a burst.

If you have a burst pipe in your home, your first call should be to an emergency plumber because waiting can cause more damage. This winter, call Drainmen Plumbing at 484-685-3336 if you run into any plumbing emergencies—our team is on-call 24/7 to save your home when disaster strikes!