What a Bulging Water Pipe Means — and What to Do About It
Many times, there’s no disaster imminent. But, you still want to get it checked out as soon as you can. If it ruptures, you’re in trouble.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the reasons this happens. We’ll also try to give you an idea of what to expect as far as repairs.
Here in Medford and other parts of South Jersey, Bovio has been servicing homes with problems like this for more than four decades. If you have any questions or concerns about something going on with the plumbing in your house, don’t risk a costly disaster. Instead, give us a call today.
Now, let’s see what could be happening.
What Makes a Water Pipe Bulge?
A water pipe forms a bulge when there’s a blockage that results in a lot more pressure on one part of the pipe. Four common causes are:
- Frozen pipes
- Hard water
- Tree Roots
Now, those things don’t cause the swelling directly. Instead, it’s the water building up as a result of them. All that pressure pushes out.
That means the problem may have been temporary. Or, the blockage is still there and needs immediate attention.
Either way, a licensed plumber can tell you if the deformity has weakened the pipe bad enough to need replacing. And, they’ll get rid of a blockage before the problem gets any (or much, much) worse.
STOP! Is Your Water Heater Bulging?
We can take our time (a little) when it comes to a swollen pipe. But, if the actual water heater is bulging, call a plumber right away.
This problem occurs when the heater is holding too much pressure. You’re seeing the stress from all the force pushing its way out.
Best case scenario: You need a new unit right away. Worst case? It explodes.
Now, explosions are not common. But, they do happen. And, they can be strong enough to destroy your entire house.
So, if the problem is on the appliance — not the pipes connected to it — call a plumber now.
The water inside your house can freeze when the pipes get cold enough. The blockage occurs when the water backs up in that spot.
You can fix this yourself, but you need to act quickly. That pipe will burst if you leave it alone. Then you’re looking at dozens of gallons of water pouring into your house in a matter of minutes.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
The first thing to do when thawing frozen pipes is to turn off the water to the house. This step prevents more from building up in the pipe.
Next, turn on the faucets so the water has someplace to go when it can.
After that, warm the pipes manually. Once the ice melts, the blockage disappears, and the excess pressure goes away.
Look for frost or other signs of where the problem lies. Then, try insulating the pipes to conserve heat and warm them. Wrapping pool noodles or a heating pad around them work in a pinch. Or, point a space heater at it.
If you find the exact spot, it’s also possible to thaw it with a hairdryer — anything but an open flame.
Rust Can Cause a Water Pipe to Bulge
Rust in water pipes is more common in older homes than newer ones. And, they can cause your plumbing fixtures to bulge over time.
Today, pipes and plumbing lines are made of PVC and other plastics. But, that wasn’t always the case. You’ll find galvanized pipes or cast iron plumbing lines in old homes.
Eventually, these materials rust. The problem is, you won’t notice it right away. That’s because the process starts inside the pipe, not the outside.
Once you can see signs of this happening, it’s a safe bet that it looks much worse inside.
And, as the rust builds up, it can prevent water from flowing correctly. The result is the pressure that causes the problem we’re talking about today.
How Hard Water Affects Your Plumbing
Hard water can have a similar effect as rust on your plumbing. This is when there’s high mineral content in the water. And, those minerals are often magnesium and calcium.
They’re usually present at levels low enough for you to drink without getting sick. But, they can still cause problems you can’t see right away.
The minerals form sentiment that builds up in the pipes. And, if it causes a backup, you’ll get the same problem.
Tree roots are usually a problem in pipes that are outside. But, it’s worth mentioning here.
Even if there are only tiny holes in the pipes outside, a small root can make its way in there. As the tree grows, the roots get bigger and travel further down the pipe.
They’ll begin expanding and eventually grow too big for the enclosure. That will result in swells and other problems.
Water Hero P-100
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The Water Hero P-100 is an internet-connected leak detection system. It is installed into the plumbing lines that supply water to your home and uses data analysis to detect leaks or irregularities in your water usage. Using a web interface and customizable mobile app, it alerts home and business owners when there is something wrong with the water system.
A Water Pipe Burst. Now What?
Once a pipe bursts, you have to work quickly to contain the damage. When it’s ruptured, four to eight gallons of water may be pouring into your home every minute.
Your first move is shutting off the main to the house. It’s just a lever you turn, but you have to know where it is. The main is usually near the foundation wall at the front of the house.
If your basement is unfinished, it’s easy to find. If it’s a finished basement, look for an enclosure or panel. Or, check the crawl space if you have one.
If there’s no basement or crawl space, it’s usually near the kitchen sink or the water heater.
And, that’s about all you can do. After that, call an emergency plumber and get as much water out as you can.