What to do When a Pipe Bursts: 9 Essentials
What a mess! It can be a scary situation to find water spraying, leaking, or flooding your house from a pipe bursting! In the midst of the frantic thoughts and feelings, it’s important to know what to do.
A burst pipe is not random. Freezing temps and poorly insulated pipes can cause pipes to split open, but the majority of burst pipes come over time as clog and corrosion occur.
A major clog deep in a pipe causes water pressure to build up; when water can’t get through and the pipe can’t handle the stress anymore, the pipe bursts open. If you have copper pipes, well water, or a high concentration of iron in your water, rust will form and the pipe gets weaker from this sediment. Eventually, when the water pressure changes, the pipe bursts open.
Whatever the reason for your burst pipe, you need to work quickly to minimize the damage and get the professionals out to handle the repair and clean up.
1. Turn off your electricity
You do not want to step into standing water with the power on. Saving your stuff is not worth the risk of you being electrocuted! Instead, find your electrical panel and switch off the appropriate breakers. If water is blocking your path, go outside where you should be able to find the main shutoff on the exterior of your home.
2. Turn off your water main
Before you start cleaning up or taking any pictures, stop any more water from coming through the burst pipe by turning off your water main which should be found either inside or outside the house. The shutoff valve is typically where the main water line enters your home or where the water meter is located.
3. Document everything
Before you even call your insurance company, take pictures and/or videos of the damage. You can use the photos later to make lists and notes of the damage. Property insurance lawyers at David Low and Assoc. instruct individuals to be thorough: take multiple photos from various angles, keep a log of all damage as you find it (structure of home and physical possessions), including date, time, and as much description as possible. They also specify to not throw things away immediately as some insurance companies need to see it.
4. Rescue what you can
Unfortunately, water damage from a burst pipe begins immediately; some items are instantly ruined. You may be able to rescue items that can be dried out or have not yet gotten wet. But even if water has not yet reached some items, do not leave these in the room where moisture has the chance to create mold.
5. Make some phone calls
Call your insurance company
Water damage from a burst pipe is sometimes covered by your insurance policy. Call to get the claims process started and while you are on the phone with them, ask if an insurance adjuster needs to visit before a clean up or repairs take place. Also, ask if there are particular plumbing or water restoration companies you must use.
You need a plumber; unless your insurance company requires an approved one, find the one that can come out as quickly as possible. Call them as soon as possible so that you have a shorter wait time; not all plumbers have emergency services. A plumber assesses the damage, finds the cause, presents solutions, fixes the burst pipes, and hopefully prevents such damage from ever happening again.
Call a water damage restoration company
A water restoration company is different from a plumber. A plumber fixes the damaged pipe, but you also need professionals to properly dry out and repair your home. A good water restoration company should come as soon as possible to start cleaning before mold starts to grow.
6. Drain the faucets
You should have already turned off the water coming in from outside, but now you need to drain all your faucets (sink, shower, toilets) to remove any water left in the pipes. Draining the water removes pressure off the pipes and guarantees no additional water leaks through or bursts another pipe.
- Cold taps: Turn all the cold-water faucets on until no more water comes out. Flush your toilets multiple times.
- Hot taps: First, shut off the hot-water heater, then turn on every hot water faucet until they run dry.
7. Remove standing water
Begin to remove standing water. If you are in a basement or bathroom with a floor drain, push the water into the drain. If water is elsewhere, use a portable sump pump, a wet-dry vac, or a traditional mop and bucket.
8. Remove wet & damaged goods
Mold grows on moist organic substances like paper, drywall, and wood. If your stuff is moist, mold will grow. If it can’t be dried quickly, it should be removed from the house. After the insurance adjuster has done their job inspecting everything, discard damaged items safely.
9. Warm the air & dry what you can
If your pipes burst from freezing, warm the air around them. Turn up the thermostat and if necessary use a blow dryer to thaw any other frozen pipes. Drastic temperature changes can cause more breaks so open all cabinet and closet doors to allow warm air to circulate.
Next, you need to start drying out your house.
- Open the window to let the moist air out (unless the air outside is colder and you have frozen pipes).
- Use dehumidifiers to suck moisture out of the air.
- Cycle your HVAC between 80 to 60 degrees. Warm air can hold more moisture than cool air, so when you switch it to cool it will pull out more moisture.
Again, if water has gotten on the drywall or ceiling, you need to contact a mold remediation company because just opening windows and drying things will not stop the mold; mold begins to grow in just 24 hours. A team like ServiceMaster of Colorado Springs will bring industrial-size blowers and dehumidifiers to make sure everything dries quickly and properly.
A burst pipe is a mess to deal with and a danger to your health, but at ServiceMaster of Colorado Springs, we use trusted processes and thorough cleanup methods. We don’t cut corners. And we don’t stop until the work is completed. Give us a call today.