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Freezing temperatures turn water into ice. When water turns to ice, it expands. When water is pressurized in a pipe and ice forms inside, the pipe makes room for the expanding ice. By breaking.
When the temperature rises again, water finds its way through the ice, rebuilding more pressure. This pressure finds the break in the pipe and ruptures the pipe.
That is what apparently happened to the elbow on a standpipe going to a hose bib at our home. Everything appears fine until the water thaws.
The damage looked like an explosion. I couldn’t even locate all of the pieces.
I spoke with a friend about this and he told me about Yard Hydrants. These standpipes close a valve below the surface (and below your freeze line) and then flush the water out of the standpipe – leaving no water above your freeze line to turn to ice and bust your pipe.
So, with the intent of replacing all of our standpipes with these yard hydrants, I am just going to cap off this broken pipe so that we can get water flowing back into the house.
The repair is easy:
1) Ensure your main water is shut-off
2) Saw or otherwise cut off the damaged pipe
3) Clean off any dirt and debris from the pipe
4) Spread PVC primer on the outside surface of the pipe and the inside of the cap
5) Spread PVC or All Purpose cement on the outside of the pipe
6) Push the cap onto the pipe and give it a slight twist
7) Wait the recommended time for the cement to set
8) Turn your main water on
9) Check for leaks. If leaks exist, start over – being more careful to ensure the pipe is clean and that you get a good even coat of primer and cement on the pipe.
The hardware store was very busy when I went to buy a cap, and several of the PVC fittings were either low or sold out – so I suspect I am not the only one doing these repairs today.
And as the rest of the country thaws out, I wager they will be finding these little problems as well.