What Causes Water Pipes to Burst During the Harsh Northern Minnesota Winter?

It is increasingly common for a pipe to burst during the winter. When cold weather finally strikes, few homeowners know they must prepare their home’s plumbing system for the dropping temperatures. Any pipe leading to the outdoors, including a spigot for an outdoor hose, must be appropriately wrapped and prepared. Unfortunately, too many pipes burst during the winter. Then homeowners like yourself must call restoration services to handle the water damage. In that event we’re happy to help out, but we also hope to help prevent the situation outright.

What Causes a Burst Pipe?

After the fact, once the damage has been handled, you’ve likely wondered to yourself what caused the pipe to burst in the first place – it’s a common-sense thought process. Well, a water pipe will burst during winter because the water left inside the pipe expands as it reaches freezing temperatures. This rapid expansion causes immense pressure within the pipe itself. And once that pressure becomes unmanageable, the pipe ruptures to release some of the load.

Upon rupturing, depending on the overall temperature, the water may either freeze upon contact with the low-temperature air, or leak extensively before finally freezing up. Either way, the damage may be considerable, and this water damage may be sudden or delayed. If you haven’t seen it yet, once the water thaws, the water damage will present itself.

Preventing Burst Pipes

To avoid the extensive water damage that soon follows a burst pipe, you’ll want to take action. So as soon as temperatures begin to drop, you’ll want to start dealing with your plumbing system. Here’s a few worthwhile tips to keep your pipes from bursting outright:

  • If it’s below freezing outdoors, or even close to freezing, occasionally turn on one or two faucets to allow water to move through the system. Flowing water will not freeze.
  • Often, pipes that freeze are near an outside wall or window. Try to direct warm air to the coldest spots in your house to prevent pipes from bursting. Note: Start with the basement.
  • If your kitchen sink is located along an outside wall, which is the most common setup, then consider leaving the cabinet doors open to allow warm air underneath.
  • Disconnect the hose from any outside spigots to allow water to properly drain from the system. Then, store the hose somewhere relatively warm, such as in a shed, for later use.
  • If you have a leak in your home, such as at a window or door, seal it promptly to prevent cold air from entering the premises. Look for air leaks around pipes, vents, and electrical wiring. Use caulk or insulation to seal these areas and prevent cold air.
  • A licensed plumber can help prepare your entire house for the coming winter before the cold weather really hits home.


If you took precautions but you still have a burst pipe, contact Restoration 1 of Northern Minnesota. We’re no stranger to cold in this region, and sometimes having a helping hand can make all the difference. Give us a call.

About The Author

Patrick McBrady is the owner of Restoration 1 of Northern Minnesota. Pat has more than five years of professional restoration experience and 24 years of management experience, and he has received certifications from the IICRC and the ACAC.

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