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HOME: Holiday stress? Why water lines burst the way they do.

Photo courtesy justclaire, flickr

If you’ve every experienced a frozen or burst water line at home (our condolences if you have), “inconvenient” doesn’t begin to describe it. However, the word “interesting” might.

We came across a technical but very educational blog post by Nick Berry as featured on Popular Science answering the question, “Why do pipes burst the way they do?”

The short answer requires answers to two separate questions.

Why do pipes burst? Water expands when it freezes, which is why you should take precautions to prevent frozen water lines this time of year.

And why do they bust in the same fashion—longitudinally, as seen in the photo? It has to do with the stress applied to the pipe as water freezes. As Nick explains in great detail, the hoop stress—which runs around the pipe like a ring—is greater, and because the rupture runs perpendicular to the line maximum stress, viola: Longitudinal rupture.

RELATED: 10 tips to protect your plumbing if entertaining this holiday season

And if you’re into diagrams and equations, Nick’s got more than you could ever want to explain further.

As we said, it’s not too late as Cleveland’s weather moves towards winter’s deep freeze, so friends at Cleveland Water have recommendations on how you can prevent your water lines (and your peace of mind) from being unnecessarily stressed over the holidays.

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