What you do in the first few minutes after a sudden pipe burst is crucial for containing the problem and preventing any further damage to your home. Follow these six simple steps the next time you have a plumbing emergency after calling in for help:
Shut off the water main: This is the most crucial step. The longer the water runs, the more damage it will do to your pipes and your property. A 24/7 emergency plumber can turn the water off when they arrive at your home, but it will take time for them to come; so, it is best to know where your water main is and do it yourself. The water shut off valve is usually under a metal or plastic cover in your front lawn, near the street or the sidewalk. If you can’t find it outside, it may be near your water heater.
Flush the lines: When you turn off the water to your home, you leave water in the lines, as well as a considerable amount of pressure. To flush the line, open at least one cold water faucet in your home and keep it open until no more water comes out. During this first stage of line flushing, do not turn on the hot water, because it may cause damage to your water heater.
Cut power to your water heater: With the cold water lines flushed, the next step is to turn off your water heater. For an electric water heater, you can flip the breaker. For a gas water heater, without the assistance of a 24/7 emergency plumbing technician, the safest way to cut off the water heater is by closing the gas valve. Once the water heater is off, you can drain the hot water lines in the same way that you drained the cold water: open a hot water faucet and keep it open until the water stops coming out.
Find the damaged pipe: Water on the floor indicates at least one leak, but you may have more than one rupture in your pipeline. Grab a flashlight and do your best to locate all places where the pipe may have been compromised. Not all broken pipes are catastrophic failures — those breaks that you can see from 100 yards away — so don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with the pipes.
Take pictures or video of the damage: Documentation is critical when making an insurance claim, so you don’t want your 24/7 emergency plumber to start repair work before you take pictures or video of the damage. Make sure that you get photos of the busted pipe from several different angles and that you show the extent of the water puddle the pipe created. Documenting the damage will reduce the chance that the insurance company will claim that the damage was pre-existing.
Start cleaning: On its own, water is a destructive force, but it can also cause secondary problems through mold and mildew. Leaving the water on any surface, for any length of time, dramatically increases the risk of damage, so be proactive about cleaning any water on your floor.
A sudden pipe burst requires a call to a 24/7 emergency plumber, but there are things that you need to do to protect your property before your plumber arrives.
These six, easy-to-do steps will limit the amount of damage done to your home in the event of a burst pipe and could save you thousands of dollars.