Owning a home is a huge commitment and can be a large expense (that pays off well in the long run), especially in the case of surprise emergency repairs. What is one to do if a pipe unexpectedly busts in your home?
A burst water pipe can cause serious damage if not quickly and properly cleaned. Burst pipes typically can occur during extreme cold especially if the pipes or hose bib is exposed to the colder weather and given much of a chance to freeze the water enough to expand and damage pipes. The first thing you need to do when you have leaks to get the water turned off as soon as possible. The stop tap/main water shut off will be found on the main water line entering the home, which is often in the basement or near the water heater in a utility closet. Once you have the water turned off, the pipes will have to be drained. To drain the pipes, run the cold water on all the faucets, flush each toilet once, and shut off the hot water heater. After the hot water system is off, return to each faucet and run the hot water to finish draining. The leak will stop when there is no running tap water left.
If you had a major water incident and wires may be getting wet, as a precaution against shocks, turn off electricity to this portion of the home.
Now that all the water is drained, find the burst pipe. Take the time to inspect the damage and take into consideration the location of the pipe before attempting to fix it yourself. It doesn’t necessarily matter how large the actual break itself is; if it is on a major water pipe, it’s going to take much more work to replace because it holds more water and splits off into even more water connections, whereas a single pipe underneath the bathroom sink won’t have nearly as much to consider.
Repairing a crack in pipes that aren’t main pipes is generally a straightforward job. However, depending on what kind of material you choose to mend the break, it can get costly.
If the break is rather small, there’s a chance you may be able to simply patch it to prevent even more damage while also saving some money. If you use commercial tape or chemical bonding agent, definitely keep an eye on that pipe, as it may burst again later and you’ll be back to the drawing board. Consider such repairs as temporary.
After repairs, if the burst pipe has gotten water on the walls or ceilings in addition to the floor, definitely contact a professional water restoration/mitigation company. Attempting to dry a soaking wet room by opening your windows and turning on a fan is asking for mold, mildew, and potentially, illness. Moisture issues in a home can cause problems with indoor air quality. It is important to begin the drying process as soon as possible. Once everything has been returned to normal, make sure you run the cold water, the hot water, and flush the toilets to examine all the plumbing and fixture before you begin to use the plumbing as normal and not under constant monitoring.
Consider also having a home inspection company use thermal imaging to help help find leaks that may be hidden behind drywall materials.
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Written by Kaitlyn Troth of Troth Media