How to Avoid Busted Pipes This Spring

Nothing puts a damper on the sunny days of early spring quite like a burst pipe. Luckily, there are ways to make this ugly scenario less likely. Besides following our general spring home maintenance checklist, there are a couple of other simple things to consider in your bathroom area as the weather shifts. This way, your toilet's soil pipe system should remain in working order and function exactly as it should without any busted pipes.

Let's explore why pipes tend to burst this time of year and how to hopefully avoid finding fractured piping in your own bathroom this spring.

Tip #1: Watch Outdoor Temperature Fluctuations

When a pipe bursts in early spring, there's a good chance that the culprit is all that nice weather everyone's been raving about. More specifically, it's the rapid shift in temperature that's to blame after what was probably a brutal winter (shout-out to Central Ohio!).

As outside temperatures heat up in March, residential pipe materials begin to expand and contract. This natural fluctuation can cause significant instability — enough to fracture or break a line in some cases. For this reason, it's a good idea to be on the lookout for pipe leaks this time of year.

Tip #2: Flush Mindfully

Other than the changing of the seasons, one of the biggest causes of cracked and busted pipes in the home is something we've probably all been guilty of at one point or another: flushing something that shouldn't be flushed.

It definitely pays to be conscientious about what you flush down the toilet. Just ask anyone who has ever awkwardly clogged a toilet at their girlfriend or boyfriend's parents' home. Luckily, there are several DIY solutions to a clogged toilet. Cracked water lines are a different story though.

Can Flushing Junk Down the Toilet Really Cause Burst Pipes?

Unfortunately, it sure can. Non-flushable items may compromise a toilet's piping when homeowners aren't careful. Improper flushing can cause backups and eventual fracturing that result in busted pipes.

Which Items Should Never Be Flushed Down a Toilet?

Better Homes & Gardens lists common items that one should never, under any circumstances flush down the toilet. Here are some of the more surprising items on the list:

"Flushable Wipes"

That's right, friends. You've been lied to. It was bad enough that time you tried to substitute dish soap for laundry detergent — now this?! We feel your pain. Still, we hope you'll make a mental note about these so-called "flushable" wipes right now. They're a menace.

Paper Towels

This one may be common knowledge to many, but it's perhaps still a bit surprising on its face. After all, doesn't paper dissolve easily? Well, some does. But not all paper is made the same. In point of fact, paper towels actually expand when they absorb water, making these handy household items a particular nuisance inside of pipes.  


We've all experienced hair that clogs up the shower drain, but somehow it seems we don't immediately recognize that flushing it down the toilet isn't great either. While it's true that human hair is biodegradable, that process takes time — who wants to wait around for that?  

Dental Floss

We'll forgive you for thinking that a material as thin and wispy as floss (you know, that stuff you definitely use on your teeth every night) would do no harm to your pipes. Even still, that forgiveness doesn't mean you won't be dealing with a backed up soil pipe below your toilet. Don't let that impeccable dental hygiene of yours put your entire bathroom out of commission.


It's worth acknowledging that ethically disposing of unused meds can be genuinely tough sometimes — throwing certain scripts in the trash is definitely irresponsible. And we're sorry to say it, but flushing them is a no-go for your plumbing systems too. Still, there are solutions.

Looking to properly dispose of medication? Check out your state's drug disposal resources. Just whatever you do... quit putting 'em down the toilet!


Another medicine cabinet staple, Band-Aids are better off in the trashcan than the toilet. Turns out that all that adhesive gunk can cause a real mess by sticking to other items. Did someone say... super clog? We sure hope not.

Got a Leaky, Fractured, or Busted Pipe at Home?

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A plumber working on the pipes on the underside of a bathroom sink.

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A plumber working on the pipes on the underside of a bathroom sink.