Having a pipe burst in your home is one of the worst plumbing problems you can experience. Pipes can crack if the water pressure is too high, but the issue occurs more commonly because cold weather causes the pipe to freeze. Water always expands as it freezes, which often puts so much extra pressure on the pipe that it ruptures or bursts. You must take immediate action to minimize the water damage and reduce the risk of mold growth if a pipe in your home ever ruptures. Here are some steps to take when dealing with this situation.
1. Shut Off the Water Supply to Your Home
If a pipe in your home bursts, you should immediately shut off the water supply either to that pipe or to your entire home to prevent major flooding. If it was one of the hot water lines that ruptured, you can just shut off your hot water supply. There will be a shut-off valve on the hot water line just where it exits your water heater, and closing this valve will prevent the pipe from continuing to leak. If one of the cold water pipes bursts, you’ll typically need to close the shut-off valve on your main water line.
All homes should have an outdoor shut-off valve on the main water line near where it enters the house, and the valve is typically located next to the water meter. In homes with a basement, the shut-off valve will almost always be in the basement somewhere along the exterior foundation wall in the front of the home. If your home has a crawl space, the valve will be located along one of the crawl space walls near the front of the house. Locating the shut-off valve can be a bit more difficult in homes built on a concrete slab foundation. In this case, you’ll usually find the valve in either the garage or utility room near the water heater.
The shut-off will typically be either a ball valve with a straight handle or a gate valve with a round handle that looks similar to a hose spigot. To close a ball valve, turn the handle so that it is at a 90-degree angle perpendicular to the water line. If you have a gate valve, you just need to turn the handle clockwise as far as it will go.
If you can’t find the shut-off valve or it is stuck and you can’t get it to close all the way, you should immediately call the municipal water department’s emergency line. The department will then quickly send someone out to your home and close the shut-off valve in the street out in front of your house.
2. Turn Off Your Electricity
Water and electricity should obviously never mix. Any time a pipe leaks or bursts, the water could come into contact with your home’s electrical system, leading to a risk of electrocution or possibly starting a fire. This is why it is also important to immediately shut off your home’s electricity as soon as you’ve shut the water off. All you need to do is open the door on the main electrical panel and shut the main circuit breaker off so that no more electricity flows into your home.
3. Drain All the Water Out of Your Pipes
The next thing you should do is drain all of the water out of your pipes and your plumbing system. To do this, you’ll need to turn the water on in all of your sinks and showers so that the water in the pipes feeding them drains completely out. It’s also a good idea to flush your toilets so that they are also dry. Draining your plumbing system will stop the pipe from continuing to leak, and it will also enable a plumber to immediately get to work on repairing the pipe.
4. Capture and Soak Up as Much Water as You Can
After shutting the water off, you should also do whatever you can to catch or soak up as much of the water as possible. If the pipe is in the ceiling or is exposed and runs along a wall, you can usually use a bucket to capture whatever water continues to leak. You can also use towels to soak up water on the floor. An even more effective option is if you have a wet/dry shop vacuum since this will allow you to siphon all of the water up. Catching and soaking up as much water as possible is important for minimizing water damage and reducing how much you’ll then need to spend to repair your home.
5. Contact an Emergency Plumbing Service
Once you’ve shut your water off or are waiting for the water department to show up, you should then contact an emergency plumbing service like Half Moon Plumbing. We are always available 24/7, and we will get a plumber out to your home as soon as possible. A burst pipe is a plumbing emergency since it can cause severe water damage. You also won’t be able to turn your water back on and use your home’s plumbing until the pipe has been replaced, so you’ll want to get the problem tackled as soon as you can. In most cases, we’ll be able to fix the problem fairly quickly by cutting out the damaged section of pipe and splicing a new piece of copper pipe into its place.
6. Use Fans to Help Everything Dry More Quickly
Once the pipe has been repaired and is no longer leaking, you then need to start trying to dry everything out as quickly as you can. The best and easiest way to do this is to take all of the fans you own and point them so that they blow directly onto all of the wet areas. Keeping the fans running will help your carpets, flooring and drywall to dry faster, which is important for reducing the chances of mold.
If lots of water has leaked inside a wall, you’ll typically need to contact a construction company and have them cut out all of the damaged drywall so that you can then remove and dispose of all the water-logged insulation. Any insulation that comes into contact with water should always be thrown away because it may quickly start to show signs of mold. If the water thoroughly soaked the drywall, it also typically won’t be savable as the water will ruin its structural integrity.
Once everything is fully dry, you should continually monitor the area to make sure that mold issues don’t develop. If you see any visible mold growth or notice a musty smell, you’ll want to contact a professional mold remediation company so that you can get the mold problem taken care of before it spreads and causes more damage.
Whether you’re dealing with a leak, a burst pipe or any other plumbing problem, you can always count on the expert team at Half Moon Plumbing for help. We specialize in leak detection and repairs, and our team can also take care of all of your other plumbing, drain and sewer needs. If you need any emergency plumbing services in the Owasso area, give us a call, and we’ll get everything taken care of as soon as possible.