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What Causes A Water Pipe To Burst? 6th February 2015

The majority of water pipes are made from copper, which you would imagine to be quite durable.  However, even copper is still prone to leaks.

How, you may wonder?

Surely a metal pipe would be able to withstand a lot without cracks occurring.  This is true but depending on the water running through the pipe, leaks can start to appear even after only a couple years use.

What actually causes these leaks?

The main causes are internal corrosion and high water pressure.  Corrosion is the act of gradual destruction of a surface by a chemical reaction.  The reaction in this case would be caused by the acidity of the water.

Water that’s very acidic will cause corrosion.  However, alkaline water will cause limescale to build up.

A limescale build up can actually decrease your chances of pinhole leaks as the limescale acts as a sort of internal coating.  Acidic water will start to wear away at the pipes internal coating, rapidly decreasing its strength.

That’s one cause of burst pipes, but another is water pressure.

The diameter of pipes should roughly be matched to the pressure of the water being fed into them.  If the diameter of the pipe is too small, the pressure will increase, causing excess strain on the pipes.

Over a period of time this strain will simply become too much for most pipes to handle and as a result, cracks will begin to appear.  The higher the water pressure, the wider the pipe should be.

In severely cold weather pipes can freeze.  If the water inside them also freezes then this can cause blockages.  Like having a limescale build up, this can result in increased water pressure – sometimes more than the pipe can handle.

We have written a blog post in the past on how to prevent your pipes from freezing.

These are two of the most common causes of leaks developing from your pipes.  As you can imagine, corrosion is much more common on older pipes.  But if you’ve recently had plumbing works carried out at your property and you notice leaks, this could simply be down to a fitting not being tight enough – don’t instantly assume your pipes are of a poor standard.

All you need to do is call your plumbing engineer and explain the problem, and make a date in both of your diaries for the issue to be resolved.

For any more information on water pressure, pipes, or anything else related, feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience.