In an emergency, you don’t have time to do lots of research about what you should do. If you’re looking at a burst pipe, then you need to act right away.
Recruit the other members of the household to help you take care of things while you wait for help to arrive. Here are the best steps to take when a water pipe bursts.
The First Thing You Should Do When a Water Pipe Bursts
There’s a long list of what to do if a pipe bursts, but the very first thing you need to do is turn the water off. Before you do anything else, locate the water main to the house (usually in a basement) and shut off the water to the house. Turn the valve clockwise until it stops turning.
The water main supplies the whole house with water, so be aware that you won’t use the water with it off. After the main is off, drain the faucets. Turn the taps on and let them run to get the excess water out of the pipes. Soon they’ll slow to a trickle and stop running.
Leave the taps on, even after no water comes out. Check to see if any water from your burst pipe may have touched an electrical outlet or fuse box and if it has, shut the electricity off, too.
Call the Plumber
When you suspect you have a burst pipe, you need a plumber who’s available right away. Call a local company you can trust and explain the situation. They’ll probably ask you to turn off the water and follow the steps you did above.
The next steps are to flush the toilets a few times to continue draining the pipes. You’ll also want to turn off the hot water heater and drain the hot water taps.
Heat It Up
While you’re waiting for the plumber to arrive, heat up the house if you can. If you have electric heat, it won’t run with the electricity off. Turn the thermostat up, and open any closet or pantry doors to let the heat in.
Use fans to direct the heat into colder spaces in your home. If you have space heaters, you can use them to help keep temps up and prevent water from freezing inside your pipes.
Add this to your list of what to do if your pipes burst: document the event. Your insurance company may provide some help with the restoration and costs of the water damage. However, showing them pictures of the problem can help prove that it should be covered by your policy.
Before you start cleaning up the water, make sure you get all the pictures you need. Take shots close up of the burst pipe, as well as shots of the whole space. Even a video can be a good way to document the damage.
Clean Up the Area
Start your cleanup session by taking out all your stuff. The belongings should be dried as best you can and stored somewhere dry and out of the way.
Aim a fan at the items to help them dry out as quickly as possible. The faster you dry them out, the less likely they will get moldy or mildew.
Your insurance company will be able to give you an estimate on the replacement cost soon to let you know if you should continue trying to dry out your items or throw them away.
After you get rid of the belongings, take out everything else if you can. Furniture, rugs, and anything else not attached should come out. Do the same thing you did with your personal belongings and try to dry out the furniture with fans and heaters.
Remember to keep space heaters far away from flammable objects, and monitor the temperature in a room, so it doesn’t get too hot.
Use a shop vac to suck up the excess water near the burst pipe. If you don’t have one, use a mop and a bucket.
Be warned, water is heavy, and this may take longer than the shop vac idea. If possible, borrow a shop vac from a friend to make the job easier on yourself. It’s important to get the water out as soon as possible, so mold doesn’t have a chance to grow.
Prevent Another Problem
After your burst pipe is taken care of, think about making some changes to keep your home safe from another one. Check to see if any spaces could use more insulation in your home, and either DIY the project or hire someone to install it. Besides tax breaks, you’ll also enjoy a warmer home where pipes don’t have the chance to freeze.
Remember to keep doors open, especially on cold nights. This includes doors underneath cupboards and vanities where pipes may be hidden.
Besides keeping doors open, when it’s freezing out, set the faucets to drip at night. A slow drip will keep the water running and moving and help prevent it from freezing.
Look for good deals on a shop vac. You may want to keep one at home if you find a great price, so that next time you have one on hand.
Stock up on water for emergencies, too. Keep some bottles of water around so that you have something to drink if you ever need to shut the water off again. It wouldn’t hurt to keep some gallon jugs around, too, to help flush the toilet in an emergency.
Next time you have a problem, you’ll be prepared to deal with it.
When a water pipe bursts, you’re worried about a lot of things. Before the plumber comes, make sure you follow the steps above to take care of your home.
Let the professionals help when they arrive, but in the meantime, shutting off the water, the electricity, and starting cleanup can help prepare for their arrival.
If you have a plumbing emergency, contact us right away to have a plumber come out to the house.