Ways to Deal with Burst Pipes
A burst pipe is probably the last thing you want to deal with, but if you live in an especially cold part of the state, you might be especially vulnerable. Or if you live in an older home or your plumbing is already damaged. No matter how it happens, a broken water pipe is almost always a big mess to clean up and can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to fix.
Whenever you experience a plumbing emergency, it is easy to panic. But panicking does nothing to solve the issue. The best way to respond is to find the emergency shutoff valve for your water supply. Turning off the water supply, at least for the time being, can help you minimize the water damage that accumulates, whether it is inside the basement or elsewhere within your home.
Knowing what else to do when a pipe bursts may help you act fast to try and reduce the damage to your home.
Here are some of the ways you can address damaged pipes and plumbing systems inside your house.
Some Common Causes of Burst Pipes
The most common reason for burst pipes is frigid temperatures that freeze water in unprotected pipes, causing them to swell and spring leaks. While the Inland Empire does not frequently see such cold temperatures, those in the mountains of Big Bear and Idyllwild do. But even if you do not get snow or freezing temperatures, you should still be educated as to what to do about leaking pipes since pipes burst for various reasons.
Old, corroded pipes
Weak pipe joints
Tree roots growing around water mains
Increased water pressure
Ways to Deal with Burst Pipes
Whatever the reason for your burst pipe, your goal at this point will be to limit damage and find a swift pipe repair. Clearly, this will be a job for professionals. After calling for emergency service, take the following steps to stop further water damage in your home.
Shut Off the Water
When a pipe bursts, the very first thing you need to do is shut off the water to the house, possibly even before calling for a plumber. Go to your home’s main water valve and shut it off immediately. Turn the valve clockwise by hand or use a meter key.
If you can definitively see that the leak is coming from one specific spot under a cabinet or around a toilet, you may be able to get away with turning off the water supply to that one fixture.
It helps to know where your water valve is now, before you need to know where it is.
Search these spots:
The basement, near the front of the foundation wall within three to five feet of the main water entrance
In a crawl space
In a mechanical room
Around the water heater or furnace
Under the kitchen sink
Near the curb or sidewalk (look for a metal plate)
Disconnect Your Electrical Panel
Turn off the electrical system before you start cleaning up the water. Electrical panels are usually located in the basement, garage, closet, laundry room or outside. If water is blocking your path to the breaker box, call an electrician.
Call a Plumber
While you might have some experience with DIY home repair, there are some repairs you should not tackle on your own. A burst pipe is one of them.
It is a good idea to find a plumber now, before you need to call them for emergency service. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations, and once you have a list of three or four, do your own research. Take a look at the plumber’s website, third-party reviews and the Better Business Bureau, and ask about the company’s licensing and insurance.
Determine the Damage
Once the water is turned off and you have a Best Plumbing professional on the way, you can take some time to find out just how flooded your house is. Burst pipes are serious, and you must move quickly to avoid mold and mildew hotspots. If you still have lead pipes, then it is time you got them replaced. Copper and PVC pipes are higher quality and will not affect your health.
Create a Temporary Fix
If you have to wait for a plumber to arrive, a temporary patch may help keep the pipe secure. There are a few different ways to try and reinforce the pipe, but you will need materials on hand.
You can take a rubber sleeve from your repair kit and place it over the rupture. Then place the metal repair clamps over the rubber sleeve and fasten them together with screws and a screwdriver.
If you do not have a repair clamp set, a substitute can be made using a section of rubber hose that closely matches the diameter of the burst pipe. Cut the rubber hose down the center and place it over the burst. Then place another section of rubber hose over the cut in the first piece. Secure both pieces of rubber hose with hose clamps that are tightly attached.
Remember, this is only a temporary fix to get you through until the plumber arrives. Do not attempt to use this fix longer than a day or two.
Drain Excess Water from Your Pipes
The water pressure will probably still be high in your pipes even after you turn off the main water valve. This increased pressure will continue to cause leaking until you drain the water from your pipes. Start by turning on several cold water taps in your house. You will see water flow out and eventually decrease in intensity. Next, you can turn off your water heater and empty water from your hot water taps. This step is particularly important if you are dealing with a burst pipe from freezing temperatures.
Toxic mold can be even worse to deal with than property damage, so clean up standing water to try and prevent mold from forming in the walls, ceiling and floors. Mops, buckets, and towels will all come in handy, and you may find that a wet vacuum makes cleanup far easier. Also consider renting industrial-size blowers and dehumidifiers. If there is an excessive amount of water, you should contact a certified water removal company.
Open Cabinet and Pantry Doors
If pipes burst due to cold or freezing, and the exposed pipes are inside closets, cabinets or pantries, leave the doors open to let warmer air circulate around the pipes.
If you are dealing with particularly bad damage, you will certainly want to document the situation in pictures and writing for your insurance company. They will need to see just how bad the situation was before reimbursing you. Take photos and keep notes of conversations with your insurer and plumber. Also, do not throw damaged items away as you will need to save these for evidence.
Call Your Insurance Company
Standard homeowner’s insurance policies may cover damage resulting from sudden pipe bursts inside the home. But the water damage must be the result of a sudden break or leak. Damage that happens over time, like from a leaky pipe, is considered negligence and your insurer will likely deny coverage.
Review your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it covers water damage to your home, or call your insurance company to try and find out. If the water pipe burst is outside your home, it might be your utility company’s responsibility to make repairs at their expense.
Preventing a Burst Pipe
Every second counts when a pipe breaks and water starts gushing into your home, but knowing what to do beforehand may help you act fast to try and avoid costly repairs. The above tips are for after the damage has been done but you can try to prevent burst pipes.
Insulate Your Pipes
Wrapping your pipes in foam will help keep a pipe stay above freezing temperatures and prevent them bursting open and causing damage. You can find foam insulation pieces at hardware stores for around $3.
Repair or Replace Old or Weak Pipes
A plumber can help you decide if it is time for a re-piping.
Locate Your Main Water Shutoff Valve
Know where it is and stick a label on it, so you can find it quickly in an emergency.
Watch for Water Leaks
Small leaks most often lead to bigger problems, so be on the lookout for leaking faucets, damp cabinets, rocking toilets or dripping refrigerators. Make repairs as soon as possible.
Let Faucets Trickle Through Cold Nights
This can help keep your pipes from freezing.
Know When to Give Best Plumbing a Call
If you need help with your garbage disposal, sinks, or any other plumbing issue, call Best Plumbing Services at 951-788-1321 for professional drain cleaning methods. Located in Riverside, California we are family owned and operated with over 10 years of experience. We take pride in our service and expect each job to be completed as if it were our own home or business. Our Licensed Plumbers and Technicians will be professional, clean and polite.