Know What To Do If You Come Home To A Burst Pipe

Posted on: 2 February 2017

Having a pipe burst in your home can be a terrible experience. Having a pipe burst when you're not home can be even worse! Though keeping your plumbing in good shape and taking actions to prevent pipes from freezing will go a long way towards reducing the risk of a burst pipe, there's no way to 100% guarantee this will never happen to you. So, it's best to be prepared and know what to do -- and what not to do -- if you come home to find that a pipe has burst. Here's a look.

Do: Turn off the water main.

The first thing you should do upon discovering that a pipe has burst is head to the water main and turn it until it closes completely. This should stop the flow of water so that the flooding does not get any worse.

If you don't already know where the water main is, take the time right now to go find it. Make sure it turns easily so you can close it if you ever need to. If it's stiff or hard to turn, apply some lubricating oil and open and close it a few times to loosen it.

Don't: Touch any wiring or electronics that have been affected.

If anything electronic has gotten wet, do not touch it or you could be shocked. Do not touch a light switch that appears wet, either. In fact, turn the power off to that area of the home via the circuit box. This way, you can move about the area without risk of shock; you're better off safe than sorry.

Do: Collect as much water as possible from the leak.

Some homeowners see water pouring in and assume that the damage has already been done, so there's no point in trying to collect any of the water that's still pouring out of the pipe. However, even a few stopped gallons of water can make a difference in the amount of damage that's done. So as soon as you've turned off the water at the water main and addressed the risk of shock, turn your attention to the area where water is pouring in. Place a bucket or tote beneath the pipe to catch as much as you can. (Even though you turned off the water, some more water will keep leaking out until the pipe is empty.)

Don't: Stand directly under a bubble in the ceiling.

If a pipe bursts above a ceiling, the water can sometimes collect in a "bubble" that forms in the plaster or ceiling materials. You never know when this bubble may burst, so avoid standing under it. Note that though a bubble might look small, it could be holding a lot of water above it. If you're able to stand far enough to the side, you can place a bucket under the bubble and use a broom handle to pierce it, allowing the water to flow down. 

Do: Call a plumber and a water repair specialist.

When a large amount of water has leaked into your home, you definitely need to call the professionals. The burst pipe will likely need to be replaced, and the water damage will need to be cleaned up professionally to prevent dangerous mold and bacterial growth. If it's the middle of the night, you can call an emergency plumber, though there's really no harm in waiting until the morning to call as long as you're okay without running water until then.

Now that you know how to deal with a burst pipe, you'll be fully prepared to act if you ever come home to one. 


Knowing When It’s Time to Call the Plumber

My name is Jason Lawrence, or around my house I’m sometimes known as “Daddy Fix-It.” My wife Sarah and I have four children all under the age of ten. I didn’t start out as a guy who was handy around the house, but I am learning to become a do-it-yourselfer for sure. Did I mention that I’m a bit stubborn? There are times I struggle with projects a little too long, and it takes my wife stepping in to convince me that it’s time to call a professional. I’ve become especially handy with plumbing projects. I don’t know why kids think toys belong in the toilet and doll hair is good for the bathtub drain, but around here those are weekly events. I’m going to share some of my experiences, how I fixed some of our plumbing problems, and when it becomes time to call the plumber.

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