Hot summer days can be unbearable – if there’s been little rainfall, water companies will often roll out a hosepipe ban to avert water shortages. You typically hear of burst pipes during the winter months, but did you know that extreme heat can also wreak havoc on your property’s plumbing system?
If you’ve ever experienced a burst pipe, you know that the damage can be costly and inconvenient. To help you prevent such a nightmare scenario, let’s dive into the science behind why pipes burst and explore some practical steps you can take to avoid them.
What's the Science Behind Burst Pipes?
Understanding the effects of hot weather on your plumbing is essential in preventing pipe bursts.
During a scorching summer, the weather conditions raise the temperature both inside and out. Without getting into the molecular physics of it all – when the temperature rises, the metal pipes in your home can expand.
Overnight, the temperature cools and pipes shrink back. This expansion and retraction can be significant, pushing the pipes to their limits and beyond. This expansion can cause stress on the pipes, leading to cracks and leaks after which they could ultimately break.
The Role of Clogged Drains in Burst Pipes
Did you know that clogged drains can contribute to pipe bursts?
When your drains are blocked, they can cause water to back up in the pipes, increasing pressure and strain on the system. This, combined with the expansion caused by very hot temperature means the pressure exceeds some manufacturing tolerances – resulting in pipe bursts.
Now, add the scorching summer heat and hot weather to the mix. As the pipes expand due to the rising temperature, the pressure from the blocked drains becomes even more significant. It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire, exacerbating the stress on the pipes and increasing the likelihood of bursts.
To prevent clogged drains, make sure to avoid flushing any non-flushable items down the toilet or pouring grease and oil down the kitchen sink. Regularly cleaning your drains with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda can also help keep them clear and minimise the risk of clogs.
How Can Hard Water Contribute to Pipe Damage?
Hard water, which contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, can contribute to pipe damage during heatwaves. The minerals in hard water can accumulate inside pipes over time, reducing the water flow.
Now, imagine a hot summer day, and the pipes are expanding due to the heat. Whether they are copper, lead or plastic pipes – the restricted flow caused by the mineral deposits creates additional strain on the pipes, much like a bottleneck on a busy highway. This increased strain makes the pipes more prone to bursting.
Consider having a water softener installed or using water conditioners to reduce the hardness of your water and protect your plumbing system. By removing the excess minerals from the water, you can prevent the buildup of deposits in your pipes, reducing the risk of blockages and bursts and meaning you don’t have to repair leaks.
What are the Signs of a Water Leak?
Throughout the year, take the time to inspect your pipes for any signs of weakness. Corrosion or rust can eat away at the metal, weakening its integrity. Check for leaks, damp spots, or water stains as these may indicate hidden damage.
Remember, prevention is key. By identifying and addressing structural weaknesses before they escalate, you can safeguard your plumbing system and reduce the risk of summer pipe bursts, and keep your household bills in check. The Waterguard Home and Flow 7 cuts the flow of water automatically when leaks are detected – reducing the potential damage caused by a water leak.
3 Emergency Steps When Your Pipes Burst
Despite your best efforts, pipe bursts can still occur. Knowing the emergency steps to take can help minimise the damage and ensure your safety.
1) Quick Actions to Take: Shutting Off the Water Supply
- The moment you notice a pipe has burst, the first thing you should do is shut off the water supply to your home. Locate the main water valve and turn it off to stop the flow of water. This immediate action can help prevent further water damage and flooding in your home. It’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the location of your incoming water supply beforehand. Knowing this information ahead of time can save you valuable minutes during a plumbing emergency.
- Once you have successfully shut off the water supply, take a moment to assess the situation. Look for any signs of significant water damage or potential hazards that may require professional assistance.
- Remember, safety should always be your top priority. If the burst pipes have caused any structural damage or compromised the integrity of your home, it’s essential to evacuate and contact emergency services for help.
2) Ensuring Safety: Turning Off the Electricity Supply
During a pipe burst, it’s crucial to prioritise safety. If the affected area is near any electrical outlets, switches, or appliances, turn off the electricity supply to prevent any potential electrical hazards.
Once the electricity supply is turned off, it’s essential to assess the extent of the damage and evaluate the safety of the affected area. Look for any signs of electrical damage, such as exposed wires or charred outlets, and avoid touching or interacting with any compromised electrical components.
Remember, electrical safety is crucial, and it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
If you have any doubts or concerns about the electrical safety of your home after a pipe burst, contact a professional electrician to inspect and take further action.
3) Cleaning Up the Mess: Steps to Follow After a Pipe Burst
Once you’ve shut off the water supply, it’s time to start cleaning up the mess left behind by the burst pipe. Begin by removing any standing water to prevent further damage to your property and minimise the risk of mould growth.
Using absorbent materials like towels or mops, soak up as much water as possible. Open windows and use fans to promote air circulation and aid in the drying process.
While cleaning up, be cautious of any electrical appliances or outlets that may have been affected by the water. Avoid using any electrical devices until you are certain they are safe to use.
If the water damage from broken pipes is extensive or if you are unsure about how to properly clean up after a pipe burst, it’s advisable to seek professional help.
Water damage restoration companies have the necessary expertise and equipment to handle the situation effectively.
Understanding the Effects of Warm Weather on Water Companies and Individuals
Water companies don’t implement hosepipe bans unless absolutely necessary. Despite 2022 only having its 10th driest summer on record, the Met Office issued an amber heat warning. The Environment Agency declared a drought in nearly all of its local authorities. Millions of residents experienced low pressure – the dry conditions meant that water firms had to implement a hosepipe ban to conserve any remaining water.
A rapid change in pressure can cause “Water Hammer”, a phenomenon that can leave pipes in overall poor condition – resulting in new leaks.
In the weeks that followed, the climate change conversation continued with both individual water companies and the country’s infrastructure was put under intense scrutiny; with particular attention put on what could be an effective method to avoid future droughts and underground damage.
How can Waterguard help?
Water leaks can still happen, no matter how carefully you take care of your plumbing. We want to keep our customers ahead of the curve by helping them implement new infrastructure like the Flow 7 and Puddle.
Waterguard products prevent leakage by measuring the time that water is flowing and will automatically shut off the flow of water after a preset period. This not only protects your home but can drastically reduce the amount of water used in your home, bring down your household bills and help you materialise a more environmentally friendly home.
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