Coming home to a burst water pipe is a homeowner’s nightmare, often resulting in expensive repairs. The sound of rushing water and the sight of water damage can be overwhelming. However, the good news is that many cases of burst pipes are preventable with some proactive measures. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the causes of burst pipes and provide practical tips to safeguard your home. By understanding the reasons behind pipe bursts and implementing preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of encountering this unfortunate situation. As a reputable plumbing company, Shafer Services Plus has the knowledge and tools to help you maintain your home. 

Cold Weather

Burst pipes are most common during winter when water freezes and expands within the pipe. To safeguard your pipes during cold weather, consider the following steps:

  • Insulate exposed pipes: Wrap pipes in insulation material or use heat tape to prevent them from freezing. Insulating pipes is a crucial step in protecting them from the frigid temperatures. Focus on pipes located in unheated areas such as basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Proper insulation acts as a barrier, preventing the cold air from reaching the pipes and keeping them at a safe temperature.
  • Direct warm air: Ensure that warm air circulates to cold areas of your home where pipes are more vulnerable. The distribution of warm air can help maintain a consistent temperature throughout your property, minimizing the risk of freezing pipes. Keep interior doors open to allow heat to reach these spaces. Consider using portable heaters strategically or opening cabinet doors to expose pipes to warm air. Pay special attention to areas that are susceptible to low temperatures.
  • Allow faucets to trickle: Leaving faucets running at a trickle can help prevent freezing by keeping the water flowing, relieving pressure within the pipes. This is particularly important during severe cold spells when temperatures drop significantly. By allowing a small amount of water to flow continuously, you can prevent water from stagnating in the pipes and reduce the chances of freezing.

Water Pressure

High water pressure can strain pipes and increase the likelihood of leaks or bursts. To address this issue and protect your pipes, follow these suggestions:

  • Install pressure regulators: If you reside in an area with consistently high water pressure, consider installing pressure regulators to reduce the amount of water entering your home from the municipal supply. A pressure regulator acts as a gatekeeper, ensuring that the water pressure remains within safe limits, typically between 30-80 PSI (pounds per square inch). By installing a pressure regulator, you can control and stabilize the water pressure throughout your plumbing system, reducing the strain on your pipes and preventing potential failures.
  • Thermal expansion protection: Protect valves and pipes from potential flooding by installing a thermal expansion protection tank atop your water heater. These tanks are required by San Antonio code and can be a cost-effective addition to your plumbing system. They play a crucial role in managing the thermal expansion of water within the system. When water is heated, it expands, and without proper accommodation, this increased volume can lead to excessive pressure on the pipes and fixtures. A thermal expansion protection tank absorbs the excess pressure caused by thermal expansion, protecting your pipes, water heater, and other components from damage. 

Rusted Pipes

Over time, rust can corrode pipes, leading to leaks. To mitigate this risk and ensure the longevity of your plumbing system, take the following steps:

  • Use high-quality pipes: During installations or replacements, ensure that top-quality pipes, such as copper or PEX, are used to withstand the test of time. Investing in durable materials can significantly reduce the chances of rust-related pipe failures. High-quality pipes are less prone to corrosion and are better equipped to handle the demands of your plumbing system.
  • Regular inspections: Schedule preventative inspections with a licensed local plumber who can identify weak spots in your plumbing system and address them before they escalate into major issues. Your local plumbing company has the expertise to assess the condition of your pipes, check for signs of corrosion, leaks, or deterioration, and recommend appropriate repairs or replacements. Regular inspections are crucial in detecting potential problems early on and taking proactive measures to prevent burst pipes. 

Hard Water

The presence of calcium and magnesium in hard water can cause mineral buildup within pipes, leading to reduced flow, corrosion, and eventual pipe damage. If you live in an area with hard water, such as San Antonio, it’s essential to take steps to protect your pipes:

  • Install a water softener: A water softener system can remove minerals from the water, protecting your pipes and appliances from the harmful effects of hard water. Water softeners use an ion exchange process to replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions, effectively softening the water. Consult with a water softener service company to determine the most suitable water softener for your home based on your water quality and usage. Regular maintenance and monitoring of the water softener will ensure its effectiveness in preventing mineral buildup and subsequent pipe damage.

Bad Installation

Poorly connected pipes can lead to water leaks and, in some cases, even burst pipes. To avoid this problem and ensure the integrity of your plumbing system you can:

  • Hire reputable plumbers: When it comes to plumbing installations and repairs, it’s crucial to engage a highly-rated plumbing service that uses top-quality materials. Research customer reviews, ask for recommendations from friends, family, or neighbors, and verify the credentials and licensing of the plumbing professionals you hire. It’s essential to choose professionals who have a proven track record of delivering reliable and high-quality work.

Warning Signs of a Potential Burst Pipe

Recognizing the early warning signs can help you take prompt action and prevent extensive damage. Keep an eye out for the following indicators, which may suggest an impending pipe burst:

Stains on walls near pipes: Water stains or discoloration on walls close to pipes could indicate a leak. These stains might appear as dark patches, discoloration, or even mold growth. Investigate any signs of moisture or water damage promptly to identify the source and take necessary steps to prevent further damage. 

Discolored water: If the water coming out of your faucets appears discolored or has an unusual odor, it may signal pipe corrosion or sediment accumulation in the pipes. Discoloration can range from a slight tint to a more pronounced brown, yellow, or rusty color. It’s important not to ignore changes in water quality as they may indicate underlying issues with your pipes.

Lower water pressure: A sudden decrease in water pressure throughout your home could be an early sign of a compromised pipe. If multiple faucets and fixtures are experiencing reduced water flow, it’s essential to investigate the cause. Low water pressure can result from blockages, leaks, or a partial pipe collapse. 

Unusual sounds: Pay attention to any unusual sounds coming from your plumbing system, such as banging, rattling, or gurgling noises. These noises may indicate that water is not flowing smoothly through the pipes and could be a result of a blockage or increased pressure. Ignoring these sounds can lead to pipe bursts, so it’s crucial to have them evaluated by a plumbing service.

What to Do If You Have a Burst Pipe 

In the unfortunate event of a burst pipe, follow these immediate steps:

1. Shut off the water supply: Locate and turn off the main water supply valve to prevent further damage. Familiarize yourself with the location of the shut-off valve in advance, as quick action is necessary to minimize water damage. Shutting off the water supply will stop the flow of water to the burst pipe and prevent additional flooding.

2. Contact a professional plumber: Keep the contact details of a reliable plumbing company, such as Shafer Plumbing, readily available. We offer emergency plumber services and can promptly address burst pipe situations. A professional emergency plumber will assess the damage, repair or replace the burst pipe, and restore your plumbing system to working order. For your convenience, we also provide service from San Antonio through Kyle.

3. Consider a leak protection system: In addition to the above steps, installing a leak protection system can provide an extra layer of security. These systems use sensors to detect leaks and automatically shut off the water supply when a leak is detected, helping to mitigate potential damage. Some advanced systems also provide real-time notifications to homeowners, allowing them to take immediate action even when they are away from home. 


Preventing burst pipes requires a combination of proactive measures. By staying vigilant for warning signs and taking necessary precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of burst pipes and minimize the potential for costly home repairs. Remember to schedule regular plumbing maintenance appointments with licensed professionals to evaluate and maintain the integrity of your pipes. Safeguarding your home against burst pipes not only saves you from the stress and expenses associated with water damage but also ensures the long-term reliability and functionality of your plumbing system.

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