What To Do If a Water Pipe Bursts – The Ultimate Guide from Experts

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what to do if a pipe bursts

Having a water pipe burst can be a panicky moment — what do you do? Who do you call? Luckily, the first few things you should do are pretty straightforward, and you can act on them right now. Read on to learn everything you need to know about what to do if a water pipe bursts, from the professional experience of a real water damage restoration company.

Table of Contents

Top 5 Things To Do Immediately If a Pipe Bursts

1. Shut off your water supply

Whether you have water dripping or gushing out of your pipes, the first thing you have to do is shut off the supply of water to those pipes. It’s the only way to stop the damage from getting worse at this moment. Not sure where to find your water shutoff valve? It’s usually in your basement (if you have one), and looks like either a garden hose shutoff or a lever. If your home is on slab foundation, like mine, the shutoff valve should be near the main water lines. Mine’s in the pantry in my kitchen. Check out this article from our friends over at Angi for more details.

If you live in an apartment, the best thing to do is to alert the on-site staff as quickly as possible, so that they can help mitigate the situation.

2. Open up your faucets

We had a woman call Cleaner Guys just the other day while she was holding her hand over a pipe that burst when she was cutting drywall! After telling her how to shut off the water, the first thing our water damage expert Dave told her to do was to drain all the water from the pipelines by opening all the faucets. This will eliminate any water pressure still in the pipes! Do this immediately after shutting off the water.

3. Turn off electrical power

It’s not absolutely mandatory to shut off your electric power as well, but it’s a very wise thing to do! You don’t want there to be any chance of electrocution as long as there’s water out on your floors and walls, where it shouldn’t be.

4. Start soaking up the water

After you’ve stopped the water flow and made sure the area is safe, you should begin soaking up any standing water as fast as you can. The longer water sits on flooring and drywall, the deeper it will soak in, and the clean up job could go from a few hundred dollars to dry out everything, to thousands of dollars to replace the flooring or drywall, because it’s too water-logged to be able to dry out. Grab towels, blankets, or anything else you have that can soak up water. Wear gloves, because you may not know yet whether the water is dirty or not.

5. Start making calls

Now that the water is off and you’ve started soaking up the standing water, it’s time to start calling the right people to take care of the damage. The first call you should make is to a plumber, who can repair the actual piping that has broken. The second call will be to your insurance company (be sure to take pictures of the damage, to be able to show them and prove to them what happened!). Your third call should be to a water damage restoration company, like Cleaner Guys, because they’re the ones who can clean up the water and fix everything it damaged.

Not sure how to find a restoration company you can trust? Start with this simple 4-step guide.

“Do I Have a Burst Pipe?” – Signs of a Burst Pipe

How do you know if you have a burst or leaking pipe? The most common signs are:

  1. Dripping or gurgling sounds from inside your walls
  2. Water dripping from your ceiling (this can also be an overflowed sink or toilet)
  3. Brown or grey water stains on drywall or wood, ceilings walls or floors
  4. Drywall or flooring being soft or squelchy to the touch
  5. Little to no water coming out of a faucet
  6. Odors of water or mold (musty, metallic, pungent, or like sewage)
  7. Mold
  8. Peeling or bubbling paint
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Water staining, bubbling and flaking paint – a sign of a burst pipe.

“Why Did My Pipe Burst?” – Burst Pipe Causes

After figuring out what to do if a water pipe bursts, you may be wondering why it burst. Here are the most common causes we see, in our line of work as water damage restoration experts.

  1. Freezing and sudden temperature changes. By far the most common cause of pipes bursting is when water freezes in a pipe, and the pipe either cracks then from the expansion, or later when the water begins thawing. To avoid this happening to you, read this simple guide of 8 ways to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting.
  2. Corrosion. The second most common reason pipes burst is usually the pipes being old and corroded or rusted. This is usually the case with old and historic houses, where the plumbing has not been updated for decades. Houses used to be plumbed almost exclusively with copper piping, and we clean up water damage in historic houses all the time where the old, corroded copper plumbing just gave out.
  3. Clogs can also definitely cause pipe ruptures, so be very careful what you allow down your pipes.
  4. Tree roots can sometimes grow into the foundation of your home and disrupt plumbing, causing ruptures. Keep an eye on any trees growing close to your home!

Does Insurance Cover Water Damage from Burst Pipes?

Every insurance company has different policies on water damage, but most will cover water damage if it is sudden or accidental, according to this article from Allstate. This would typically include an overflowing toilet or sink, a burst pipe, or a sudden appliance breakage or leak.

The instances of water damage NOT covered by insurance policies usually include negligence and natural disasters like flooding.

Who to Call to Clean Up Water Damage from Burst Pipes

The people to call for cleaning up water damage are water damage restoration experts. Your plumber will fix your plumbing, but he won’t dry up all the water or replace damaged materials. That’s the job of a water damage restoration company. If you’re wondering “What’s a water damage restoration company?”, we have another guide dedicated to answering that question here. Essentially, you need a restoration company when you have a burst pipe because you need a professional to determine how to clean up the damage. In some cases, your floors and drywall may just need to be dried out! In other cases, they may need to be removed and replaced. Only a certified water damage restoration technician can determine this with accuracy.

water damage restoration with Cleaner Guys
A Cleaner Guys water damage restoration technician on the job of a burst pipe water disaster!

Water Damage Restoration in Western Washington State

If you need a water damage restoration company in Western Washington State, we are proud to recommend Cleaner Guys as one of the most affordable and trusted options in the area! Cleaner Guys is also the only restoration company in the area that boasts award-winning customer service. Give us a call today at (360)757-4300!

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No part of this article is medical or legal advice, and may not be used as such. For all serious medical matters, consult your doctor. For all serious legal matters, consult your legal advisor. This article contains Cleaner Guys’ experience and opinions only.

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