Pipes bursting in winter is a common issue in Bloomington, IL, often caused by the freezing of water inside the pipes. Here’s a detailed explanation:

Freezing Water Expands: Water has a unique property in that it expands when it freezes. During winter, as the temperatures drop, the water inside the pipes can start to freeze. When water freezes, it expands by about 9%.
Pressure Build-Up: The expansion of ice creates significant pressure inside the pipe. The pressure doesn’t just build up at the site of the ice formation but throughout the entire system. This is because ice blockages can prevent water from flowing freely, causing pressure to build up between the blockage and a closed tap or valve.
Pipe Material and Integrity: The pressure can become too much for the pipe to handle, especially if the pipes are old, weakened, or made of materials that are less tolerant to expansion. This is especially true for metal pipes, which are more susceptible to bursting when the water inside them freezes and expands. However, even plastic pipes can burst under the pressure of expanding ice.
External Temperature Fluctuations: Sudden and extreme drops in temperature can exacerbate the problem. Pipes located in areas without proper insulation, such as outdoor pipes, pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and garages, or pipes running along exterior walls, are more vulnerable to freezing.
Lack of Insulation: Pipes that are not well insulated or are exposed to drafts are more likely to freeze. Insulation helps to keep the pipe closer to the temperature of the water inside it, rather than the external colder air.

To prevent pipes from bursting in winter, homeowners often use insulation sleeves, keep a trickle of water running (as moving water is less likely to freeze), and maintain a consistent indoor temperature. Additionally, pipes can be rerouted by a professional plumber to areas less likely to experience freezing temperatures.

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