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What to Do if a Pipe Bursts 1

What to Do if a Pipe Bursts

A pipe burst is every homeowner’s dreaded nightmare. Having some background information on what to do if a pipe burst can help you to salvage the situation. Here’s how to jump into action to protect your home when a worst-case scenario strikes a pipe.


Why You Should Never Ignore a Pipe Burst

A pipe burst is one of the most serious scenarios for a homeowner due to the potential for damage. Pipes can burst for many different reasons. Cold temperatures are often to blame. It’s estimated that pipe damage due to frigid weather can cost the average homeowner a minimum of $5,000 in damage.

However, factors like corrosion, clogs, pipe contraction, pipe shifting and damage to pipes can all cause a pipe to burst. According to the American Red Cross, these are the risk factors for burst pipes in the winter:

  • Pipes that are exposed to severe cold. This can include outdoor hose bibs, pool supply lines and sprinkler lines.
  • Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas that can include basements, crawl spaces, attics and garages.
  • Pipes that run against exterior walls with little to no insulation.

The reason why you should never ignore the situation if you suspect a pipe burst is that damage is inevitable. Even a situation that looks “controllable” in the moment is really only a precursor to more serious damage. Pipes that burst will cause damage to your floors, walls, ceilings, furniture and personal belongings. In addition to being inconvenient at the moment, a pipe burst can also foster conditions for water damage and mold that will create a dangerous environment in your home.


What Are the Signs of a Burst Pipe?

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Most pipe issues are allowed to escalate until a home suffers extensive water damage because many homeowners don’t know the signs of a burst pipe. It’s very possible that small signs will be evident leading up to a bigger flooding issue. Here’s a look at the most common signs that you have a burst pipe:

  • Puddles: Puddles, pooling and drips are all indicators that you have pipe troubles. The telltale indicator that you have a burst pipe instead of a leak is when you’re seeing a puddle that grows in size. Small drips usually indicate a leak.
  • Staining: Are you seeing mysterious stains on your wall or ceiling? These “shadows” are often clues of a burst pipe. While nobody likes to see a stain on a wall or ceiling, the good news is that these “blueprints” make it easier to locate where the event is happening.
  • Metallic Smell: A metallic smell is an indicator of a pipe burst that was caused by a rusted pipe.
  • Sounds of Water: Are you hearing dripping sounds when no faucets are running? This is a potential sign of a burst pipe.
  • Noisy Pipes: Clanging and banging sounds coming from inside your home are indicators of pipe movement. It’s important to never ignore these sounds because they often occur leading up to a break!
  • Discolored Water: Brownish and reddish water can indicate a burst. Reddish water often surfaces just prior to a burst because the reddish tone is caused by severe pipe rust.
  • Poor Water Pressure: Having trouble getting enough pressure from your shower or faucets? Low water pressure is common following a burst because water is funneling through a hole instead of getting to your fixtures!

Finally, you may also be looking at a burst if your water bill is suddenly busting your budget. Most homeowners aren’t aware that a higher water bill can indicate a burst. Wasted water that’s combined with the need to run water longer just to get any pressure can cause your water bill to skyrocket. Knowing the signs to look for is half the battle when it comes to stopping a burst pipe from creating serious damage at your home. Next, take a look at the steps to take if a pipe burst happens at your house.


Get to the Main Water Supply

Rush to turn off the main water supply. While this won’t fix the problem, it will help to prevent any new water from entering. Next, contact a plumber immediately. You should never turn the supply back on until the situation has been inspected by a professional.


Clear Away Any Water

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While waiting for your plumber to arrive, clear away any water that has accumulated as a result of the pipe issue. Taking care of this now may help to prevent water damage and mold. Take caution to avoid slipping in puddles.


Crank the Heat

Turning up the heat in your home may actually help to prevent further damage if your pipe burst was caused by cold weather. Getting your indoor air temperature slightly warmer may help to prevent more bursting activity. If you can identify the location of the damaged pipe, consider using a blow dryer or space heater in the same area. You should also keep interior doors open to allow warm air to flow evenly throughout your home to prevent any “cold spots” near delicate pipes.


Use Pipeline Sleeving to Mitigate Damage

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If you’re comfortable handling your pipes, you can consider using a pipe sleeve to cover or mend the breach that occurred in your damaged pipe. Makeshift sleeves can be created using clamps if you don’t have any piping supplies in your home. However, pipe sleeving is only intended to be a temporary fix that helps to “hold back the tide” until a plumber can arrive. Always prioritize reaching out to an expert over spending time on temporary fixes.


The Best Fix for a Burst Pipe Is a Plumbing Contractor Fairfax Residents Can Trust

The clock ticks when a pipe bursts! The good news is that taking care of the problem at the first sign of trouble can often help homeowners to avoid pipe-related disasters. Call us today if a pipe in your home is causing concern!

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