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why do pipes burst in the winter

When the weather gets cold,
start warning listeners about pipes bursting. But what exactly happens when water splits metal? Seattle engineer Nick Berry (who recently tested the ) wrote up a handy to explain. The answer comes down to how water reacts at different temperatures. As water freezes, the molecules crystallize into a, which takes up more space than molecules in its liquid form.

This expansionвwhich Berry notes can add 9 percent more volumeвcauses cool things, like floating icebergs, but also not-cool things, like flooded basements. But this is only part of the conundrum: Berry also examines why pipes tend to split in the same manner every time. Surprisingly, it's the same reason. It all comes down to hoop stress and longitudinal stress within the pipe walls, which run around the pipe and up the pipe, respectively.

For a thorough explanation of the physics, check out the blog post at. This is because water inside them expands as it gets close to freezing and this causes an increase in pressure inside the pipe. When the pressure gets too high for the pipe to contain it ruptures.

Although this process seems natural it is a chemical anomaly. When a liquid cools molecules will slow down which allows the molecules to get closer together andincreases the density of liquid. This happens with water too and when water is cooled down it becomes denser and denser down to 3. 98 degree celsius and then it starts to expand

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