Can a pipe burst in the summer?

by | Feb 25, 2022 | Plumbing

Why and how can a pipe burst in the summer?

During the hottest months in Calgary, June to September, your home’s plumbing is still at risk of bursts or leaks.

Pipes bursting in winter is a common occurrence.

Water, if let to freeze in your pipes, expands and puts pressure against the pipe.

You’re especially at risk if you have a poorly insulated home. But what about in warm weather, can a pipe burst in the summer, and if so what are the reasons?

In winter the expansion from water freezing causes tears or ruptures in the pipe.

You can still experience plumbing ruptures in the summer or spring.

When it’s hot out, home owners often use more water than during cold months.

We shower more, bathe more, and run the sprinkler on the lawn!

All this adds up, and is a sizeable increase in your water consumption. That also means a sizeable increase in the volume of water running through your pipes. If your household plumbing has any weak points, then you’re at risk of a pipe burst, even in summer!

But then why would your pipes bust in summer?

You should inspect pipes, drains, fixtures and plumbing in some manner every now and then.

Pipes and plumbing are prone to failure, just like any other mechanical component in your home.

Rusty pipes

A common occurrence for pipes bursting in the summer is due to rust and corrosion.

This happens when the pipe is exposed to oxygen and water. This is only relevant if you have a metal pipe installed.

Plastic piping such as PEX-a piping, or PVC piping is not at risk of rust.

However, the fittings and clamps on these types of plastic piping may be at risk of rusting.

Rust lessens the structural integrity of a pipe, making it more prone to burst when pressure in the line changes.

Even copper pipes are subject to corrosion.

You can expect galvanized and iron pipes to leak or rust at some point.

But copper pipes are subject to a special type of corrosion.

The type of corrosion that can create leaks or ruptures in copper pipes is called formicary corrosion.

This corrosion appears as a grayish patch on copper piping where the metal has weakened.

No matter the type of metal your pipe is made of, there is always a chance or rupture, pinhole, or leaks due to rust or corrosion.

Improper installation

If a pipe has a loose fitting, poor soldering, or is not secured correctly, it is more prone to failure.

There’s a number of reasons poor quality plumbing installations happen.

Not all plumbers are perfect. Jobs are sometimes rushed to save on labor costs. Often plumbing companies are on tight schedules. Or even cheaper quality plumbing accessories could have been used to save money on supplies.

As a home owner, inspection of your home’s plumbing on regular basis can help you identify weak or risky areas of piping in your plumbing system.

Improper installation of plumbing is not only a concern in the summer, but all year round.

That’s why you should really only be having certified professional plumbers taking care of your home’s plumbing needs.

Water hammer

Water hammer occurs with pipes that have valves in the line, to shut off or turn on water flow.

When the valve is in operation it can change the pressure and forces of the water in the pipe.

This happens when the water has to stop or face a sharp direction change.

Water hammer can be identified by a knocking sound coming from your piping.

The knocking, is actually shock waves and pressure changes caused by the water in the pipe.

The vibrations from the shock waves from water hammer can damage fittings, joints, and connections, resulting in leaks.

Ruptured pipes due to pressure spikes are especially expensive to repair.

Any pipe rupture can have implications on equipment and appliances connected to that pipe(dishwasher, clothes washers fixtures, etc.).

In some cases, serious damage can be done, whereby the expertise of a professional plumber and appliance technician would be needed to remediate the situation.

Tree roots

trees roots shown interfering with pipes underground

A tree’s roots can extend 2-3 times beyond the diameter of it’s canopy.

If you have a big tree in your yard, the roots of it could be ten to twenty meters beyond the trunk.

Some homes have pipe lines buried in the yard, front or back.

These are serving from the city water mains, or they are storm/sewer lines from your home to the city’s main grey water lines.

There’s a strong possibility roots will intercept your buried lines and lines can move, shift,or be damaged as the tree’s roots expand out and grow.

If a burst occurs, you’ll start losing water pressure and be hard pressed to find the source of the leak.

As the leak will generally be underground.

You may require excavation to properly replace the portion of pipe damaged.

Clogged pipes

A clogged pipe can cause your water pipes to burst.

Having a regular inspection from an experienced plumber will rule out the possibility of the leaking.

Cooking grease, laundry lint, or other debris can build up in your pipes over time.

The accumulated debris in the sewer lines restricts the flow of your grey water.

This can create pipe-bursting clogs, if not dealt with right away.

Investing in drain cleaning services from a reputable plumber(with camera inspection) is great way to get rid of your home’s slow draining or clogged pipes.

Hard water

In Calgary, it’s a well know fact we have hard water. Hard water is high in minerals and calcium.

These minerals can build up within pipes, fixtures, and appliances overtime.

Such build ups, can cause backups and pressure changes.

Any pressure change within your home’s plumbing system is a cause for concern, as they can cause ruptures.

In addition, hard water is, well, hard on your appliances and plumbing equipment such as boiler or washing machine.

You may want to consider having a water softener system installed.

A water softener system help mitigate the risks that hard water poses in terms of pipe bursts and potential damage to appliances.

What you can do to reduce pipe bursts in the summer.

Regularly have your home plumbing system inspected.

A professional plumber will be able to tell you the status of your home’s piping.

They’ll factor in age, quality of connections, valves, status of corrosion, build up of minerals and much more.

Overall, pipe-bursts are more common in the winter.

However as you can see, there are just as many reasons your pipe can burst in the summer as well.

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