What Causes Pipe Bursts In The Winter?

What Causes Pipe Bursts In The Winter?

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Winter is not far off. Seattle isn’t the coldest North American region by a longshot, but it can still get pretty frosty. Cold weather can cause pipe bursts in the winter. Find out how this happens and what you can do to minimize this in the pipeline sitting below your home or business.

Why a Pipe Bursts in Winter Weather

Most people are familiar with frozen pipes. It’s reasonable to assume then that a pipe burst is caused by the radial pressure of the frozen water. However, this isn’t what causes a pipe to burst.

Water pressure increases dramatically when there is an ice blockage and closed tap. The contraction and expansion from the ice water constantly freezing and thawing causes this pressure increase. This pressure is what ultimately creates a rupture.

Locating a Burst Pipe in Winter

A burst pipe leaks. However, winter compounds the problem. Under normal weather, leaked water flows to the surface, right above the source of the leak. In the winter, however, the frozen soil may cause the water to flow horizontally. The water eventually surfaces in an area far from the source of the leak, making it difficult to locate the burst pipe.

How to Prevent It

Prevention is the best cure. Our sewer line cleaning and inspection process can determine whether the pipes were installed below the depth of frost penetration. Our additional services also include pipe insulation to prevent the water from turning to ice.

You may be able to address minor instances of ice blockages by simply running the hot water. Keeping the tap continuously running—even the cold water—also helps prevent ice accumulation. Of course, this wastes water, so you should only employ this tactic as a temporary measure.

We’ll Fix a Burst Pipe

Contact Sewer Solutions if you notice puddles forming in the soil. With our special offer, homeowners receive a free sewer line inspection for all sewer line repairs. Pipes bursting in winter are quite common, so be sure the pipelines are well protected for cold weather.


Applies to sewer line repairs requiring digital camera diagnosis.