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When a Pipe Bursts, How Much Water is There?

When most homeowners think about the possibility of flooding in their home, weather conditions like heavy rain and natural floods come to mind.  However, there is one threat already in your home that can cause major flooding; a burst pipe.  Homes are full of piping that carries water to and from plumbing fixtures like sinks and toilets, and appliances like the refrigerator and washing machines.  With the amount of water that runs through these pipes, a pipe burst can cause serious flooding in an instant that results in major water damage.

It is important for all homeowners to know what causes burst pipes, the amount of damage that can result from a pipe burst, and how you can prevent your pipes from bursting.  If a pipe does burst in your home, it is important to call water damage restoration professionals like those at SVMPS to remove the water and dry and restore the materials and areas affected.

What Causes a Pipe Burst?

If pipes are not properly soldered or fitted together, then leaks and even bursts are a possibility.

A pipe burst can occur in your home due to several factors.  Below are the most common causes of a burst pipe:

  • Frozen pipes: Frozen pipes are the most common cause of a pipe burst and this can occur any time the temperature is below freezing. When the temperature drops, the water inside the pipe will freeze and the ice will slowly expand as more water freezes.  This puts pressure on the pipe that will eventually lead to a rupture.  Low water pressure and frost on the pipes are the most common indications of a frozen pipe.
  • Rusty pipes: In time, pipes can become worn out or rusty, causing them to become weak. This makes them vulnerable to a burst.  The rate at which pipes rust or become worn out will depend on environmental factors within your home.  If the pipes in your home are old, you should check them routinely for rusting or weak spots and have old piping replaced.  Discolored water is a sign that your pipes are rusty.
  • Hard Water: Hard water is water that has a high concentration of minerals such as magnesium and calcium. While these minerals are safe for human consumption, they are not so safe for your pipes.  Magnesium and calcium can build up within the faucets and pipes and restrict the flow of water.  These minerals can also be corrosive to metal pipes, resulting in weaknesses in the pipes and even small holes that cause leaks.  If your home has hard water, make sure you keep an eye on your pipes for any corrosion.  Water stains on your walls or ceiling could be indications of a pipe leak.
  • Bad installation: If the pipes are not properly soldered or fitted together, then leaks and even bursts are a possibility. You need to call a professional right away if you notice any problems with the connections between your pipes.

How Much Water Comes Out of a Burst Pipe?  

Regardless of where the pipe burst occurs, it will result in a lot of water being spilled into your home.

A burst pipe can cause a lot of water to spill out into your home or building.  When a water pipe breaks, how much water has potentially leaked into your building?  The answers will surprise you.  The following are examples of how much water you can expect from a burst pipe:

  • A water line to the back of your refrigerator will flow at ½ to 1 gallon per minute depending on your water pressure. That is 700 – 1,400 gallons of water in 24 hours spilled into your home.
  • One toilet supply line will flow at 2-3 gallons per minute, resulting in 3-4,000 gallons spilling out in a 24-hour period.
  • The washing machine hose will leak up to 10-12 gallons per minute, causing more than 12,000 gallons to spill into your home within 24 hours.

Regardless of where the pipe burst occurs, it will result in a lot of water being spilled into your home.  This can result in significant water damage and even mold growth if the water is not removed right away.  The best way to protect your property from this type of damage is to prevent burst pipes in the first place.

How to Prevent Pipe Bursts

By following these tips, you can prevent frozen and burst pipes in your home and avoid the serious water damage that results.

  • Run water faucets: When outside temperatures drop below freezing, keep the water faucets on at a light trickle. The running water will help prevent the water from freezing within the pipes.
  • Open cabinet doors: Keep the cabinet doors below the bathroom and kitchen sink open so that the heat can reach the pipes. This is especially helpful if the sinks are along an outside wall.
  • Seal air leaks: Any air leaks in your home will allow cold air inside, increasing the risk of a frozen pipe. Look for leaks near your pipes and use caulk or insulation to seal the leaks.
  • Use heat tape: You can protect pipes in uninsulated areas of your home by installing heat tape. This tape goes directly on the pipe and will help keep the pipes warm to prevent freezing.
  • Disconnect outside hose: Before the winter, disconnect your hose from the outside faucet. This will allow the water to drain from the outside faucet, so it doesn’t freeze and cause a burst.
  • Watch for rusty pipes: If you have an older home or old piping, make sure you routinely check for signs of rusting and wear and tear. Replacing worn out or rusty piping is much more cost effective than paying for the restoration after a pipe burst.

What to Do After a Burst Pipe

When there is a significant amount of water in a home, it gets absorbed into porous building materials and furnishings, leading to serious damage.  In order for your home or business to get back to normal, all that water must be removed from the floors, walls, and more.  Removal of that water is going to take much more than a shop vac and a box fan.  You need the right combination of air movers and dehumidifiers to do the job.

Water removal and restoration is best accomplished by an experienced and well-equipped team.  Our professionals at SVMPS are ready to handle any level of water damage, including damage caused by a pipe burst.  If you do experience a pipe burst on your property, shut off the water right away and call our experts for water damage restoration.