4 Steps to Take When a Pipe Bursts

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horizontal water pipe bursting with water spraying downward

No one can deny that owning a home is a major expense, especially if it’s an older model like many homes in the greater Seattle area. When it comes to a water pipe that bursts, the damage can be serious for your home, your possessions, and your health if the mess is not cleaned up properly.

At Bob Oates Sewer and Rooter, we’re proud to serve our community, and eager to pass along helpful drain cleaning tips and even DIY advice to homeowners so their plumbing stays happy and healthy.

In a previous post, we explained why you shouldn’t ignore leaky pipes. And we’ve talked in great detail about how to fix a broken sewer pipe underneath your home.

Today, we’re covering the four steps to take should a pipe burst inside your home.

Note: whenever there’s an emergency plumbing situation, it’s best to immediately call the professionals. But armed with a little knowledge, and when it’s not an emergency, there’s no reason why any homeowner can’t take action as long as they feel comfortable doing so.

OK, let’s get to it!

1. Stop Water Flowing Through the Pipes

First thing, turn off the water flow when you suspect a pipe has broken, even if you don’t know exactly where the water is exactly coming from. You’ll find the stop tap on the water main. It is typically located under the kitchen sink or where the main service pipe connects to your house.

Every family member should know the location of the water shut-off stopcock for emergencies.

Once the main water switch is off, you’ll need to drain the pipes. To do this, run the cold water on all the faucets. Be sure to flush each toilet at least once. Shut off the hot water heater. Once the hot water system is off, go back to each faucet and run the hot water to drain that supply.

When there is no more running tap water, the leak will stop.

2. Locate the Burst Pipe and Inspect the Damage

After draining all the excess water, locate the burst pipe. Inspect the damage and consider where the pipe is located before you run off to the home improvement store.

Regardless of the damage or size of the break, a major water pipe will take more time and effort to replace because it holds more water. And larger pipes lead to additional connections, as opposed to a single pipe under the bathroom sink.

If it’s a small break, you might be able to patch it and prevent further damage while saving money. If you use a commercial tape or chemical bonding agent, however, keep an eye on that repair job. It might just burst again later and you’ll right back where you started.

3. Repair the Burst Pipe

For Smaller Breaks

Fixing a rupture or crack in non-main pipes is usually fairly straightforward, but it can become expensive depending on the mending material you choose.

Here is an inexpensive repair for small cracks and water breaks that also gives you superior hold.

  • Start with an extra-long length of ordinary garden hose and two or three hose clamps or similar grips that produce extreme constriction.
  • Measure the fissure or crack and cut the garden hose about ten inches longer than needed to fill the broken area.
  • Next, slice the garden hose so you can slip it over the crack or burst in the water pipe.
  • Using the hose clamps or similar brackets, hold the hose portion over the busted area and compress it as tight as it will go.
  • Test your repair by turning on the water.

For Larger Breaks

If the break is larger, use a hacksaw to cut away the portion of the pipe that’s busted. Be sure to cut it about an inch larger on either side of the rupture.

When replacing the missing piece of pipe, use pipe spacers and sealant, but do not tighten it too tight. The reason for this is when a compression nut is too tight it causes an “ovaling effect” that leads to further leaking.

If you tightened the compression nut too much and the repair ovals, start with another compression nut.

4. Bring in a Professional Drying Crew

If the water from the burst pipe is on the walls or ceilings as well as the floor, we suggest you contact a professional water restoration company.

Simply using fans and open windows to dry a soaked area is an invitation to mold, mildew, and even serious illness for your family. You will also want to shut off the electrical power to that area of the house as a precaution against shocks.

Just like there are things we recommend you should never do to pipes, the team at Bob Oates always emphasizes taking the proper steps after repairs are made to ensure a healthy home.

Wrapping up

We hope you’ve found our advice on what to do when a pipe bursts helpful. If you have successfully restored your home to its original state and fixed things on your own, congratulations!

Be sure to run the cold water, then the hot water, and don’t forget to flush the toilets before normal usage begins.

And if you require any help with any plumbing or sewer pipe repair or replacement, the pros at Bob Oates are always ready to assist.

We’re happy to set up a sewer camera inspection to take a detailed look at all the pipes on your property. And our techs can arrange fast, high-quality drain cleaning that gets clogs resolved and pipes flowing freely.

Bob Oates provides service 24/7 to Seattle and all surrounding areas, from Lynnwood up north to Tacoma and the South End, and across to Bellevue and the entire Eastside. Reach out to us today!

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CALL (206) 789-4944

Serving the Greater Seattle Area