Water pipes are essential to any home’s plumbing system, but they can be susceptible to damage and bursting. Bursting pipes can cause extensive damage to your home and may require the attention of a qualified plumber. In most cases, water pipes are designed to withstand considerable pressure, making them less likely to burst. However, if significant structural damage to your house occurs, then water pipes can burst. Here are some of the most common causes of burst pipes.


When water freezes, it expands and exerts pressure on the surrounding pipe material. This can cause the pipe to crack or break. Pipes most at risk of freezing are exposed to the coldest temperatures, such as those in unheated areas like attics, crawl spaces, and garages. To help prevent your pipes from freezing, insulate them with pipe insulation or heat tape.

Tree Roots

Tree roots are known to be a major source of plumbing issues. When roots grow underneath pipes, they put pressure on them and can cause them to rupture. In order to protect underground water pipes from becoming damaged due to the growth of tree roots, it is critical to plant trees and shrubs at a distance from the pipes. Invasive tree roots are usually too strong to be blocked by pipes, and they can cause pipes to break by applying pressure as they continue to grow. If you believe tree roots may have invaded your water pipes, call a qualified plumber to inspect the pipes and do the necessary repairs.


Clogs obstruct pipes, preventing water and waste from passing through as planned. Various materials, such as food waste, hair, soap scum, and mineral deposits, can cause these blockages. Over time, these materials can build up in pipes and create clogs that limit the amount of water or stop it entirely.

Clogs can lead to many problems from slow-draining sinks and toilets to complete pipe blockages that result in backups and overflows. They can also cause pressure buildup within pipes, leading to cracks and bursts. To prevent clogs, it is important to practice good plumbing habits, such as avoiding flushing nonflushable materials down toilets, using sink strainers to catch food waste and debris, and regularly cleaning drains and pipes. If you experience a clog, it is best to call a plumber as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your plumbing system.

High Water Pressure

Excessive water pressure can be detrimental to a plumbing system since it puts an excessive strain on pipes, valves, and other parts. Various causes can lead to high water pressure, such as issues with the municipal water supply system, closed valves, malfunctioning pressure regulators, and defective water pumps. If the water pressure is too high, it can result in plumbing problems such as leaks, burst pipes, and malfunctioning appliances.

In order to maintain optimal water pressure throughout your plumbing system, it is essential to have a pressure regulator installed. This valve controls the water pressure in your system, ensuring it remains at an acceptable level. If you suspect that your plumbing system has an issue with high water pressure, it is vital to have it inspected by a qualified plumber who can diagnose the cause and suggest the best course of action.

Accidental Damage

Human error can often be the source of a burst pipe. As such, it is important to be aware that pipes in basements or utility rooms should never be used to hang items on. Even lightweight items can put too much pressure on the pipes, leading to cracks and, ultimately, complete ruptures.

Additionally, it is common for people to unintentionally break a water pipe in a wall or below ground level when performing home renovations and landscaping projects. If you plan on renovating or landscaping your house, it is necessary to call a professional plumber to locate and mark all pipes in your residence to avoid damage.

Shifting Soil

Shifting soil can majorly contribute to burst pipes. This phenomenon happens when the soil surrounding or underneath the foundation of a building is altered, causing the foundation to be pushed or pulled in a different direction. Such changes in the soil can be attributed to several causes, such as fluctuations in soil moisture, soil composition, or human-made activities like excavation or construction work. As the soil shifts, it can put pressure on the foundation and pipes, resulting in cracks, leaks, and other burst-related issues.

Improper Installation

Improper installation is one of the most common causes of burst pipes. This involves incorrect positioning of the pipes, incorrect pipe sizing, incorrect pipe jointing, and incorrect positioning of supports and fixings. Water hammers are more likely to affect poorly installed pipes, which can cause the pipes to vibrate and eventually burst. Poorly installed pipes can also cause blockages due to incorrect positioning and incorrect sizing of the pipes. In addition, incorrect fittings and fixings can lead to leaks and eventually cause the pipes to burst. Ensuring that a professional plumber correctly installs pipes to prevent burst pipes is important.


As pipes age, they can experience wear and tear, corrosion, and structural damage. This can lead to weakened pipes being more susceptible to bursting under pressure. Additionally, pipes that are older than 50 years may have been constructed with materials or techniques that no longer conform to modern standards, causing an increase in the likelihood of leaks and pipe bursts.

Age-related plumbing failures can be hard to anticipate or prevent. However, regular maintenance can help to detect any possible issues before they become more serious. Additionally, replacing older piping materials with copper or PVC can upgrade the effectiveness and longevity of your plumbing system. If you live in an older home, it is important to be aware of the age and condition of your pipes. Be sure to also schedule regular inspections with a licensed plumber to ensure that your plumbing system is functioning properly and to catch any signs of potential pipe bursts early.

Chemical Damage

Chemical damage is one of the causes of pipe bursts in industrial and commercial settings. The long-term presence of aggressive chemicals can erode or weaken the pipes, rendering them more fragile and more liable to leak or burst. In addition, incorrect disposal of chemicals can introduce dangerous chemicals into the plumbing system, creating damage that could result in expensive repairs and a shutdown of operations.

As a homeowner, you should be aware that pouring harsh chemicals, such as bleach or drain cleaners, down the drain can cause damage to the plumbing system. These substances can corrode the pipes, making them weaker and more susceptible to bursting. To avoid chemical damage, use natural cleaning solutions or consult a professional plumber for safe and effective cleaning methods.

Burst pipes can be a major problem, leading to costly repairs and serious damage. However, by understanding the common causes of burst pipes, you can take steps to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Implementing a regular maintenance routine for your plumbing system is essential so that you can identify any potential problems before they become an issue.

If you need plumbing or HVAC services in Plainfield, call the team at TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing. Our services include drain cleaning, repiping, sewer line repairs, heating and repair, furnace and repair, and AC and installation. Call us today to learn more about our services.

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