Why Do Frozen Pipes Burst in Winter?

Winters in Chicago can be frigid, which can be a lot of fun if you go sledding, ice skating or walking in the winter wonderland. Unfortunately, freezing temperatures can also lead to another regular occurrence in the winter that’s a whole lot less fun. Frozen pipes can burst, causing damage to your property and requiring emergency cleanup.

If your pipes are in danger of bursting, you may notice that the water flow slows down, and a foul smell could enter your home. What causes frozen pipes to burst? Can you do anything to protect your home? Knowing more about your pipes can help prepare you if the worst happens.

How Often Do Frozen Pipes Burst?

Frozen pipes burst when the water inside freezes and the molecules in the ice expand. Pressure builds up between the ice and the faucet, but the burst usually occurs in a part of the pipe without ice.

Are frozen pipes common?

They happen often enough that they are not uncommon, though there are factors that can put your pipes at greater risk of freezing. Older pipes, for instance, may be at higher risk. Pipes that have been left uninsulated and inadequately prepared for winter also have a greater chance of bursting. And pipes in unheated spaces, like basements, are more likely to burst than those in your home’s warmer areas.

Can Frozen Pipes Thaw on Their Own?

Can you unfreeze frozen pipes if you just let them alone? Unfortunately, you can’t. While that would be a lot easier, pipes need your attention to unfreeze. Otherwise, they may stay frozen for weeks and then burst.

Luckily, it’s relatively easy to thaw out frozen pipes. You can aim a hairdryer, hot lamp or electric blanket at the spot you believe is frozen to loosen up the ice. Turn on the faucet to encourage the resulting thaw to clear out of the pipes.

What Type of Damage Do Frozen Pipes Cause?

Frozen pipes can burst and cause flooding in your home, which is the immediate threat and most serious consequence of frozen pipes. Possible damage includes:

  • Cracks: Your pipes may exhibit cracks where the ice has expanded.
  • Flooding: If a pipe bursts, water may flow freely from it. You should turn off your water supply if this happens to try to limit the damage.
  • Water flow issues: A frozen pipe may impact the water flow from the faucet, which can significantly slow down or stop altogether.

If you experience any of these issues, you should contact a professional right away. While treating it yourself may be tempting, professionals understand the most efficient ways to address the problem — and they can also stop the flow of polluted flood water into your home.

Emergency Water Removal Services in Chicago

If you have frozen pipes that have burst and gotten water all over your house, you’ll need professional assistance to clean it up. Our team has the experience and knowledge to get the job done. See where we service and contact us at 773-346-6767 to set up an appointment today.

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