No one looks forward to a pipe bursting in their home. Between the water damage, the extensive cleanup, and the worry about potential health risks, it’s never a pleasant experience. However, the first step in such events can make all the difference. Knowing what to do when a pipe bursts can help prevent further damage. In this article, we provide some essential steps to help you better understand how to quickly and safely remedy a burst pipe on your property.
1. Shut off the main water valve
Shutting off the main water valve is an important first step when a pipe bursts. It helps minimize the amount of water that spills out and can reduce the risk of additional property damage. The main water valve is generally located either outside your home near the street or inside your home in an easily accessible area. Shutting off the water supply is most effective when done within a few seconds of the pipe bursting.
In most homes, the main water valve is easy to locate. It resembles a metal lever, usually located near the meter or inside a utility closet. To turn off the main water valve, rotate the valve handle clockwise until it stops. Once completed, you will likely notice a significant decrease in water pressure from the faucets and the shower.
Given the efficiency of the main water valve, it’s important to make sure it is always accessible. If something obstructs access to the valve, such as furniture or a large item, it would be wise to move it. Having this access could come in handy in an emergency, such as a burst pipe or a major leak.
In the event of a burst pipe, shutting off the main water valve can help prevent extensive damage to your home. With quick action and decisive measures, the main water valve can protect property, furniture, and possessions from additional water damage.
2. Repair the pipe
Repairing a pipe that has burst is a necessary part of the process, and depending on its size and location, you may need to enlist the help of a plumber. When attempting to make the repairs yourself, make sure that you follow all safety protocols and adhere to local plumbing codes to prevent further potential issues.
In some cases, the pipe may need to be replaced due to its location. This can involve significant excavation and the installation of new piping. When replacing a section of a pipe, it is important to make sure that the seal is properly tightened in order for the repair to be successful.
In other cases, you may be able to repair the pipe without replacing it. This can be done by using a pipe clamp to fit over the rupture and join the pieces of pipe together with water-resistant sealant. Again, it is important to make sure that the seal is properly tightened in order to prevent any future issues.
There are also specialized repair kits available that can be used to fix any pipe leaks or ruptures. These kits contain patches, sleeves, and other items designed to quickly and effectively repair any water damage. Depending on the severity of the rupture, these kits may be able to provide a more durable solution than a patch or a clamp.
3. Get rid of the water
Once the water supply is cut off, and the pipe is repaired, it’s time to get rid of the standing water causing problems. Depending on the amount, this process could take some time and can differ depending on the location of the burst pipe. If there is a significant amount of water, you may consider using a sump pump to quickly remove the liquid. If the standing water is minimal, it can be removed using buckets, towels, and wet vacuum cleaners.
In either case, make sure to get rid of all standing water, as even a small amount can cause mildew and mold to form. The longer the area stays wet, the more damage it can cause. Pay attention to dampness, and dry out wet spots immediately. Professional help might be necessary in some cases, so seek help from an expert if needed.
4. Take inventory of the damage
Once the water is removed, it’s time to assess the damage. Carefully look around the affected area and document what you see. Check for water damage on walls, floors, furniture, and other objects, and take a count of any items ruined by the water. This information will be helpful when filing an insurance claim or engaging expert help to fully clean and restore the area.
5. Contact your insurance agent
Determining whether or not to file an insurance claim is an important step. Even if you performed the repairs yourself, you might want to consider filing a claim with your insurance company. Your insurance company may be able to provide you with assistance or additional coverage to help you pay for some of the expenses associated with the repair and restoration.
6. Prevent it from happening again
To help prevent future plumbing-related disasters like a burst pipe, start by taking an active role in maintaining your plumbing system. Inspect the pipes around your property for any visible signs of wear and tear, look for leaks from the fixtures, and make sure that your drainage system is clear of debris.
If you notice any of these signs, you should get the affected pipes serviced by a professional plumber. Similarly, if you are considering any plumbing renovations, get a professional to inspect the quality and condition of the existing pipes to ensure they are safe and sound.
Checking for any signs of clogging or blockages in your drainage systems is also a must. If any blockages are found, it’s advisable to get them cleared as soon as possible to prevent any further buildup. Additionally, you should look for loose pipes and fittings that could cause future problems.
If you live in an area with a high risk of water damage, you may want to consider upgrading your plumbing system and/or investing in other preventative measures to protect your property from getting damaged by a burst pipe. Flood sensors, shutoff valves, and water sensors are all great ways to detect water buildup and act quickly to prevent it from causing any more damage. Additionally, be mindful of extreme weather conditions, like heavy rains and snow, that can increase the chances of a pipe bursting.
7. Consider additional coverage
Last but not least, consider purchasing additional coverage for your property. Some insurance plans only cover minimal water damage, so check your policy for details and add additional coverage if you feel it’s needed. Doing so could save you money in the event of a future burst pipe or other plumbing-related issues.
When it comes to a burst pipe in your home, knowing how to intervene quickly can make all the difference. If you follow these steps, you should be able to minimize any additional water damage and get on the path to repairing your property quickly.