What Do I Do If I Have A Burst Pipe In My Home?

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What Do I Do If I Have A Burst Pipe In My Home?

Homeowner attempting to fix a burst water pipe - Williams Comfort Air Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & More

In Indianapolis, Indiana, homeowners wonder what to do when a burst pipe plagues their homes. Though the problem rarely happens, it’s important to know what to do when a pipe bursts somewhere in your home. Homeowners with no knowledge on the subject often face water damage to their floors, walls, and precious possessions. 

However, Williams Comfort Air knows how to help homeowners in need when their pipes burst. Our plumbers detail the causes, the indicators, and how to respond. It’s easier than you think! When you follow these tips, your home faces less water damage and the pipe in question becomes as good as new in a timely manner. 

Burst Pipe Causes

Several causes explain why a pipe bursts. Many factors come into play, but there are some common causes most homeowners experience from time to time. A burst pipe rarely happens overnight, so keep an eye on your plumbing system all year round. Here are some of the most common causes of pipe bursts. 

  • Corrosion. Firstly, corrosion causes pipes to burst. Corrosion occurs because of imbalances in the water’s pH. Rust also causes a significant amount of corrosion. In either case, the corrosion happens over a long period of time until the pipe finally gives out. Rust and pH imbalances compromise the strength of the pipe, which leads to leaks and bursts. Rusty pipes are more common in homes with well water because the water usually has a higher concentration of iron.
  • Frozen. In places with harsh winters, frozen pipes are a large problem. When temperatures fall below 32 degrees, the water in the pipes freeze. This causes the bonds in the pipe to weaken, which leads to breaks. If the temperature rapidly increases—like when you turn on your hot water—the ice and the pipe shatter. If you experience long, cold winters, keep your home warm to avoid this issue. 
  • Movement. Pipe movement occurs accidentally in most circumstances. Sometimes, pipes shift after winter because the cold temperature causes the pipes to contract. Other times, shifts occur because of repairs to other parts of the plumbing or if the water pressure becomes too high and shakes the pipes. A burst pipe occurs when this movement increases the water pressure in a certain area. 
  • Clogs. Water pressure also increases because of clogs anywhere in the pipe. When the clog is close to the drain, they don’t cause too much trouble for the pipe system. However, if a clog forms deep in the pipe, the water pressure builds around the clog. Because the water has nowhere else to go, it leaks outside of the pipe. If the pressure becomes too great for the metal to handle, it results in a burst pipe.  

Signs of a Burst Pipe

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. 

  • Puddles. If a puddle grows significantly when you turn on the water, it’s most likely a burst. Small drips usually indicate a leak. With a burst, the water pools under the pipes, but also moves through walls. For example, if you experience a burst under the bathroom sink, the area directly below collects the most water. However, the floor around the toilet and bathtub also has puddles if the pipe bursts. With a leak, the water likely stays under the sink. 
  • Water pressure problems. Water pressure also indicates a problem because a burst affects how well water travels through the pipes. Low water pressure points to a burst or leak. With a burst pipe, water goes directly through the hole rather than the faucet, which lowers your water pressure. 
  • Wall stains. Stains occur for a few reasons, but large water stains on walls usually indicate a problem with the pipes. These stains also appear on the ceiling. The location of the stain points to the place where the pipe burst in most cases. In that sense, wall stains are some of the more helpful indicators of a burst pipe because it’s easy to find where exactly the burst took place. 
  • Discolored water. Discoloration of water also indicates a burst pipes. However, strange colors point to a number of other issues as well. For example, brownish water stems from high concentrations of manganese, but doesn’t necessarily mean the pipe burst. Still, reddish water usually indicates rust in the pipes, which does lead to bursts. Keep an eye on the color of your water and if any other signs appear. 
  • High water bill. High water bills are often a sign of burst pipes. Excess amounts of water leak through the hole or break, which wastes water and adds to your bill. Additionally, because a burst affects water pressure, homeowners often have to use more water than normal to achieve satisfactory pressure. 
  • Water smells. Smells from the water are also common indicators for a burst pipe. Though water smells arise for a multitude of reasons, a metallic smell in conjunction with the other symptoms on this list indicates pipe bursts. If rust causes the break, the water appears reddish and smells like metal. 
  • Water sounds. Water sounds in the walls are another sign. If you hear a constant drip, but know all of your faucets are aren’t the cause, a pipe inside the wall is a likely cause for the noise. Additionally, check your other water fixtures before you assume a burst. Toilets, sinks, or tubs also make water noises from time to time. Eliminate those causes so you’re sure the pipes are the cause. 
  • Pipe noises. Finally, metallic clangs and other pipe noises sometimes indicates pipe movement, which leads to leaks and bursts. The pipes often shake when water flows through them and there’s a break. In normal circumstances, homeowners rarely hear the water in the pipes, but a burst pipe moves more depending on the size of the break and where it is on the pipe. 

Things to Do About a Burst Pipe

Homeowners have more control over pipe bursts than they think. While actual repairs must be left for professionals, there are some things you are able to do to minimize the water damage. These require little knowledge of plumbing and are quick ways to keep water from important items in your home. Before your plumber arrives, implement these simple tricks.

  • Turn off main. Before anything else, turn off the water supply. You don’t want any new water in the pipe system when there is a burst. The water already in the system is much easier to deal with than any new water. Wait to turn the water back on until the plumber says you are able.
  • Call a plumber. Next, call a plumber. Do this as soon as you are able to keep the damage as minimal as possible. You never know when the plumber is able to come to your home, so call as soon as possible to keep the wait time down. The plumber diagnoses the cause, talks solutions, and fixes the problem. Preventative maintenance also prevents a burst pipe, so schedule maintenance visits throughout the year to keep this problem at bay. 
  • Clean the water. Clear away any water quickly to avoid excess water damage. Some water damage is inevitable when a pipe bursts, but the sooner you clean the water, the less likely you experience irreparable damage to your possessions. Fast cleanup also ensures mold and mildew don’t grow. The longer the water stays, the more likely these substances are to grow, so clean and dry the area quickly.
  • Drain faucets. Drain your faucets to remove the water left in the system. Water removal takes some of the pressure off the pipes and ensures they’re dry so no more water leaks through. Flush toilets multiple times to drain the water out of those. Start with cold water, then move to hot water. Make sure the boiler or water heater is off when you do this. 
  • Let in warm air. Frozen pipes must warm slowly to prevent further damage. To do this, turn up the heat in your home. If the heat still isn’t enough, use a hair dryer to warm the pipes. Though slow, this heats the pipes slow enough to prevent any more breaks. Drastic changes in temperature cause the pipe to burst.  
  • Keep doors open. To circulate warm air, keep doors open. Rooms with exposed pipes need more air circulation to dry the pipes and the surrounding area. You want the pipes to dry as quickly as possible, so make sure air flows consistently. The warmer the air, the faster the water dries.
  • Repair sleeve. Repair sleeves temporarily fix a burst pipe. Slip the sleeve on the pipe to cover the hole or mend the break. For a short time, this keeps the water in the pipe so you are able to use your water throughout your home. However, this fix is temporary, so don’t use it for too long. Call a plumber to repair the pipe as soon as possible. 
  • Rubber, wood piece, and clamp. Rubber, wood, and a clamp are also a way for homeowners to fix a burst pipe in the short-term. Place a piece of rubber on the burst area, cover it with a wood block, then clamp it all together. This keeps the water in the pipe for a short time. This methods doesn’t last as long as the sleeve, so only use it in cases of emergency. Immediately contact a plumber to fix the pipe. 

Williams Comfort Air Helps With a Burst Pipe

Rather than face the aftermath of burst pipes, use these tips to combat water damage right as pipes burst. Not only does this lessen the damage, it ensures you don’t waste water, which keeps your water bill at a normal rate.

Williams Comfort Air in Indianapolis, Indiana help homeowners with their plumbing every day. Give us a call today to learn more about us and to schedule a maintenance visit.

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