Here Are the Steps to Take When a Pipe Bursts in Your Home

Homeowners in Louisville, Kentucky, wonder what to do when they have a burst pipe. Fortunately, there are several steps to take when the pipes burst in your home. You don’t have to deal with excessive water damage when you consider these tricks. Remember, it’s always most important to call a plumber as soon as you notice a problem with your pipes.

Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling wants to inform homeowners about their pipes. We discuss the causes of burst pipes, what the symptoms are, and how to deal with the issue before the plumber arrives. The tips here are easy for any homeowner, so be ready to minimize your water damage!

Burst Pipe: The Causes

When a pipe bursts, homeowners wonder about the cause for good reason. Without any plumbing knowledge, many assume the burst happens randomly, but this is not the case. Bursts occur after long periods of damage. These bursts rarely happen suddenly, and most have preventable causes. For example, did you know something as little as a clog causes a pipe to burst? Here are the most common causes.

  • Clogs. Clogs deep in the pipe system cause water pressure to build. When this happens, the water has no other outlet than through the pipe. This causes the pipe to leak and eventually burst. Of course, minor clogs don’t cause this issue, but large blockages do. It’s important to address clogs quickly to avoid any water pressure buildup.

  • Corrosion. Corrosion occurs when water has high concentrations of iron or other minerals. Rust forms when iron concentrations are high, which weakens the pipes. In this weak state, the pipe bursts because of the smallest change in water pressure. Corrosion happens over long periods of time, so it’s preventable with proper maintenance. Imbalances in the water’s pH also causes this corrosion, especially if you have copper pipes and use well water.

  • Frozen. Frozen pipes are a problem in places with harsh winters. A burst pipe because of ice usually happens because of rapid increases in temperature. For example, if the pipes are frozen, and you turn on extremely hot water, the pipes and the ice shatter. Water freezes below 32 degrees, so if temperatures drop below that, pipes are at risk. Turn the thermostat up to prevent this issue.

  • Movement. Sometimes, a pipe burst occurs because of movement. Over time, pipes shift for a multitude of reasons. For instance, pipes contract slightly after winter. Extreme cold causes metal to contract, which leads to leaks and bursts. Additionally, if pipes shift because of other work done on the plumbing, bursts are more possible

Burst Pipe Signs

Homeowners often know when a pipe bursts because of large puddles of water in the home. However, there are other signs. These signs are harder to find if you don’t know what to look for. If you notice more than one of these issues, you definitely have a burst pipe on your hands. Check for these common indicators.

  • Water sounds. If you hear sounds from inside the walls, a burst pipe is possible. Water sounds, in particular, point to burst pipes. Drip sounds usually indicate a leak, but rushing water sounds are likely from a burst. Check faucets before you attribute the sounds to a burst pipe. Toilets, sinks, and tubs are possible sources for the noise, so eliminate those before you settle on the pipes as the cause.

  • High water bill. Water bills tend to increase when you have burst pipes. The excess water from the pipes adds to the overall water usage in the home. Not only does this waste your water, it boosts your bill. Plus, homeowners often compensate for low water pressure with excessive water use, which also adds to the bill.

  • Water pressure problems. When a pipe bursts, the water no longer flows through the system at an adequate rate. This affects the water pressure. Rather than a fast, constant pressure, the water moves slowly, and less of it reaches your fixtures. Many homeowners end up using more water to achieve a satisfactory water pressure.

  • Puddles. Puddles are a clear sign of a burst pipe. Small puddles in one area usually mean a leak, but large pools of water in multiple areas indicates a burst. These puddles often move across rooms or through walls. Burst pipes continuously leak water until the supply is off, so the puddle grows quickly. With a smaller leak, the puddle grows slowly and stays in the area right below the pipe in question.

  • Wall stains. Puddles of water go hand-in-hand with wall stains. Water stains walls where the pipe bursts, which tells the homeowner the location of the burst. The ceiling also stains if the burst occurs above the ground floor of the home. Some water stains are from smaller leaks but still require swift attention from the homeowner. 

  • Discolored water. Do you notice a change in your water’s color? Red, brown, and even black water indicates a problem with the pipes. Discoloration occurs for a multitude of reasons, but it does indicate at the very least something off in the water. For example, red water means too much iron and too much iron means rust. Rust creates corrosion, which leads to pipe bursts. Look for other signs of a burst along with discoloration to be sure of the cause.

  • Water smells. Along with discoloration, water smells mean a few different things. However, when present with other items on this list, they likely indicate a burst pipe. If the water smells metallic, rust is possible. Again, with rust comes corrosion, which leads to bursts. If your water smells and tastes metallic, consider the other signs on this list to narrow down the causes.

  • Pipe noises. Pipe noises are the final indication of a pipe burst. Metallic sounds like clangs and rattles are common when a pipe bursts. Water shakes the pipe when a burst occurs, so you hear more noises from the pipes when it bursts. Most of the time, new pipes are silent, so listen for changes if you notice any of the other signs. Older homes experience pipe noises more often, but any new noises are indicators of burst pipes.

How to Combat a Burst Pipe

Though most homeowners think they have no control when a pipe bursts, they actually are able to minimize the damages. Homeowners don’t need plumbing expertise to keep water damage at bay. These simple steps are crucial when your pipe bursts. As you wait for a plumber, follow these tips to minimize your water damage.

  • Turn off main. Your first step is to turn off the water main. You only want to deal with the water already in the system rather than the old water and new water. This also limits how much water leaks into your home, which minimizes water damage. If the water is off, it doesn’t create any new puddles.

  • Clean the water. Next, mop up the water as best as possible. When you remove the puddles of water, you are lowering your chance of mold and mildew growth. When left for long periods of time, stagnant water grows these substances. Additionally, the water damage decreases significantly if you clean up fast.

  • Call a plumber. Of course, it’s important to call a plumber as quickly as possible. If you call a plumber immediately after a pipe bursts, you have a shorter amount of time to wait for the repairs. In general, plumbers respond quickly when a burst pipe occurs, but it’s always good to minimize the wait with a phone call immediately after the burst happens. It’s also important to schedule regular maintenance throughout the year to prevent burst pipes altogether.

  • Drain faucets. Remember to drain your faucets of any water. Remove this water to prevent more puddles and minimize your water damage. Plus, it reduces the growth of mold and mildew in the faucet itself. Drain the cold water first, and then the hot water. Turn off the water heater before you do this. Also, flush toilets multiple times to drain the water from those as well.

  • Keep doors open. The most important tip for a burst pipe is to dry everything out as quickly as possible. To do this, keep doors open throughout your home to promote airflow. Rooms with exposed pipes are the most important to keep open. Don’t forget to open cupboard, cabinet, and vanity doors as well. Pipes around the water fixtures also require steady airflow to dry out.

  • Let in warm air. Along with airflow, the heat must be high to quicken the process. Frozen pipes also require more heat to thaw them out. If the heat is already as high as it goes, use a hair dryer to warm up the pipes. The slower the pipes warm up, the less likely they are to burst again. Frozen pipes burst when the temperature rapidly changes, so warm them at a steady pace.

  • Repair sleeve. One way to mend the burst pipe before the plumber arrives is with a repair sleeve. A repair sleeve covers the hole where the pipe burst so you are able to keep the water main on. However, this fix doesn’t work in the long term. It’s temporary. Use this when the plumber takes a few days to come to your home.

  • Rubber, wood piece, and clamp. A second way to repair the burst temporarily lies with a rubber piece, a wood block, and a clamp. Place the rubber on the burst area, then put the wood on top. Clamp the two pieces to the pipe. Again, this is a temporary fix. Do not use this as a long-term solution. A plumber must come to perform repairs on the burst pipe.

Jarboe’s: Let Us Help with Your Burst Pipe

Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling in Louisville, Kentucky, understands the stress a burst pipe brings. However, homeowners have more control than they think. Use these pieces of advice to limit your water damage.

Our plumbers are experts in pipe repairs. We are ready to help when you need us. Give us a call today to schedule a maintenance check.

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