When thinking about pipes breaking, most people worry about their pipes freezing in the winter. But what about in the summer? Did you know that in San Antonio, your plumbing can burst in the middle of hot weather too?
When heat and drought return to San Antonio each summer, the ground dries and shrinks, causing our plumbing to shift. In previous years, extended drought conditions caused a spike in the number of pipe failures in Texas.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons your home’s pipes might break, and what you should do if you’re ever unlucky enough to have it happen to you.
Common causes of plumbing failure
Exposure to pressure If something blocks up a pipe, whether it’s inside your house or in your outgoing sewer line, pressure will build up behind that clog. Common causes of clogged plumbing include pouring cooking grease down the drain and flushing paper towels or sanitary products down the toilet.
Age of plumbing Many homes in the US were built in the 1950s and 1960s, meaning a lot of plumbing is over 50 years old, and older pipes are more susceptible to breakage. Furthermore, many of these pipes were made of cast iron (which corrodes over time) or clay (which is more susceptible to cracking as the ground shifts), increasing the chances of broken pipes as they age.
Mature trees near water lines Tree roots seek out water and nutrients from buried water and sewer lines and are a common cause of plumbing clogs and breakage.
Clay soil Heavy clay soils compact easily. They also have poor drainage. Both of these factors can lead to damage to plumbing over time. Furthermore, clay soil tends to be more corrosive than sandy soil and minerals in the soil can weaken pipes.
Flushing corrosive materials Pouring materials like paint remover or other solvents down your sink, or regular use of drain cleaners, can weaken your indoor plumbing and your sewer lines.
Freezing Cold weather is the biggest cause for pipe failure. When water inside a pipe freezes, it expands, and that can cause pipes to burst.
What to do if a pipe breaks
If you have a broken pipe within the house, you don’t have much time to spare. Here’s a quick list of things to do.
- Try to collect the leaking water in a bucket if possible. If the leak is in the ceiling and there is a bulge where water is pooling, puncture the plaster to allow water to drain.
- Turn off the water to your house (some homes have a lever or knob, while others must be shut off at the street).
- Don’t touch any electrical fixtures or wiring if pipes break in a wall or ceiling, and immediately switch off all power at the main breaker.
- Contact a plumber (such as the experts at ABC Home and Commercial Services San Antonio). They can assist you with finding the broken pipe and fixing it before it causes too much damage.
- Be sure to air out the home, drying out walls and carpeting to prevent mold. In some cases, you may need to rent an industrial fan or a vacuum to remove the water.
When to call out an expert
As soon as you suspect a pipe has burst, you need a plumber immediately. We recommend that you take care of the immediate crisis, and get your water turned off as quickly as possible. After that, call out the plumbers at ABC Home and Commercial Services San Antonio. We have staff available around the clock to assist you with all plumbing emergencies, and our plumbers will know the best ways to fix your broken pipes.