It’s those unexpected mishaps at home that are the most alarming. Most arrive unexpectedly and you, most likely, have no idea what to do about them once underway. A burst water pipe is just one of those things that can happen without warning and has the potential to inflict a great deal of damage unless dealt with swiftly and correctly. Unfortunately, most homeowners do not know how to fix a broken water pipe. Burst pipe costs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars to fix. Burst pipes in winter are one of the most common homeowner’s woes in the colder months and are also the easiest to prevent. However, if you find yourself with a burst water pipe on your hands, there are steps you can take to limit the damage.
How To Fix
Turn Off Electric Main
- Shut down the electric main the moment you notice a burst water pipe.
- Wet light switches, or other electrical devices, can prove deadly unless the electric is cut off within moments of a pipe bursting.
- Thoroughly dry all plugs and switches before plugging back in or switching on/off.
Turn Off the Main Water Valve
- Find out where the main water valve is and shut it off.
- Find the location of the burst water pipe.
- Use buckets or even cooking pots to collect the water.
*Pro-Tip – In most cases, a burst water pipe will be situated behind a wall. Depending on the material of the wall, whether something hard like brick or less-rigid like drywall, you might have to call in a professional to access it.
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Drain the Pipes
- Open all of the cold water faucets in your home to ensure that all the water is drained out.
- Turn off the water boiler and open all of the hot water faucets to allow them to drain out.
- Flush all the toilets, a few times, to drain all the water.
Remove Standing Water
- Utilize towels and disposable paper towels to absorb the water from flooring.
- Thoroughly dry walls, crown molding, the ceiling, and baseboards to absorb all the water.
- Turn on a ceiling fan, on the highest speed, to dry the space.
- Position a floor fan directly in front of a wet wall to help with drying.
- Use a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. It will help prevent mold from growing.
- A submersible water pump may be used to remove a large amount of water from the house in the event of flooding.
*Pro-Tip: Once the pooling water is absorbed and everything is dried, the electrical main can safely be turned back on.
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Save Your Furniture and Personal Belongings
One of the most devastating aspects of a burst water pipe is the damage it can inflict within your home. Home decor, family mementos, and expensive furniture are just a few of the casualties that typically fall victim to unexpected flooding in the home. However, by taking swift action, you can limit the damage. The key is to remove as much moisture as possible and allow each item to dry, whether through air-drying or the use of a commercial fan.
- Remove small carpets and rugs; hang outdoors to dry.
- For wall-to-wall carpeting, use a wet-dry vacuum to remove as much water as possible.
- Dry off furniture and move items to a carpetless room to dry or even place them outdoors.
- Dry personal belongings, thoroughly, and relocate.
- Anything that is unsalvageable should be disposed of immediately.
*Pro-Tip:If the burst pipe is releasing a lot of water, set up a barrier to prevent it from flooding other rooms. It can be as simple as a pile of towels, bedsheets or whatever you have on hand, such as a basket or two of dirty laundry.
DIY or Professional Repair
Non-Main – If the burst pipe is not a primary water pipe, and the fracture is small, you can fix it yourself. (i.e. bathroom sink pipe)
- Choose a mending material such as a synthetic bonding agent or special plumbing tape.
- Use the mending material to patch the fracture adequately.
- Check it regularly to make sure it stays patched and doesn’t leak.
- For larger fractures, the damaged piece of pipe can be removed with a hacksaw. Replace it with a new piece of pipe that is secured with pipe spacers and sealant.
Main – If the burst pipe is a main pipe that leads to another network, it will require a professional plumber to make the necessary repairs. This type of pipe holds more water and can cause extensive damage if not fixed properly
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Potential Health Hazards
There are long-lasting side-effects of a burst water pipe that can affect the health and wellbeing of your family if not addressed properly. For this reason, it is vital to dry every area and surface affected by the burst water pipe.
- Mildew- it thrives on warm moist surfaces and can cause upper-respiratory problems, among other things, for anyone exposed to it.
- Mold- it flourishes on damp surfaces and produces allergens that can affect indoor air quality, especially once airborne. It can cause severe allergies and poses a dangerous health risk, especially for asthmatics.
Keep a Log for Insurance
Most insurance companies offer emergency assistance. By giving your insurance company a call, immediately, you can get the ball rolling on your claim.
- Maintain a detailed report of the burst water pipe damage in a notebook; create a timeline starting from when the burst pipe was first detected all the way through the clean-up and repair processes.
- Take plenty of photographs which will help immensely when filing an insurance claim.
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It’s always better to take preventative measures to avoid having to go through the financial and emotional stress of dealing with a burst water pipe. With prior planning and preparation, it’s easy to avoid the disaster of a burst pipe.
- Get your pipes inspected by a professional to make sure they’re not corroded or leaking.
- When the weather report calls for freezing temperatures, leave some water trickling from all of your faucets overnight to prevent the pipes from freezing.
- Leave all the cabinet doors to sinks open, overnight, so that warm air can circulate and prevent freezing.
- If you have pipes situated in cold spaces, like the basement, wrap them with insulation sleeves to prevent them from freezing.
- Detach garden hoses from outdoor spigots to prevent frozen pipes and burst hoses.
- If your home is on the market or you are planning to travel, locate the main water shut off valve and turn it off. Just remember to drain the faucets and flush the toilets to make sure the pipes are empty.
- Pour a special plumbing antifreeze down the pipes and in the toilets, after draining them, to prevent any residual water droplets from freezing.
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