Plumbing Emergency: 5 Things to Do When You Hit a Water Line

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With the recent rise in DIY, it’s no wonder more home improvement mishaps are happening. Repairing a running toilet or installing a faucet is one thing, but when the self-proclaimed plumber makes a biger mistake, there are a few things to remember in order to prevent further damage.

Depending on its location, a punctured water line can wreak havoc. And when a simple plumbing upgrade or even a dig in the garden goes awry, fast action must be taken. A geyser from a burst water line can attract your whole neighborhood’s attention. The following list will help you get things under control.

1. Stop the leak before it’s a lake

One thing all homeowners should know is the exact location of the shutoff valve to their main water supply. When a plumbing nightmare is soaking everything in sight, the last thing you want to be doing is a scavenger hunt.

The shutoff valve, in the form of a stopcock, can usually be found next to or inside the water-meter box in the front yard near the curb. A tee-handle tool may be needed for this valve.

If the valve isn’t there, try under the sink where main water lines commonly enter the house. Also, it’s important to turn off the water heater, run the faucets, and flush all toilets to drain the excess water out of the plumbing system.

2. A much-needed break

Now that the flow of water is under control and bathing suits are no longer necessary, it’s time to find the exact location of the puncture point. In most cases this is easy, since it’s usually the homeowner’s fault. Also, a monsoon isn’t hard to locate.

If the break is not obvious, look for are sinkholes in the yard and soggy spots in the grass. If the break occurs indoors—behind a wall, for instance—wet spots forming on the drywall and a loss in water pressure are indicators. In any case, take some time to find and assess the water-line break.

3. It could be shocking

If the break occurs near an electrical outlet or exposed wires of any kind, it’s crucial to stay away and turn off electrical power to the house immediately. Water conducts electrical current, and when plumbing and power mix, the results can be extremely dangerous.

The same goes for outdoor water line breaks. When an underground line is severed, there’s no telling whether an electrical line to the front yard light pole or sprinkler system valve box has been damaged too. In any case, it’s best just to practice safety and shut off the power.

4. Time for a pro

If no other damage has happened, call a plumbing professional to come out and repair the problem. Just make sure to describe the situation thoroughly so the plumber arrives prepared.

But if that little leak turns into a home makeover, it’s time to contact a water damage restoration company. Unless the homeowner is well versed in plumbing and home improvement, it’s best just to leave this to the professionals. Taking on a project as large as water damage restoration without proper knowledge can lead to more problems down the road.

5. A bit of insurance

When making a water-damage insurance claim, be thorough but concise. Let your insurance agent do some of the work. They’re there to help after a home disaster. Most insurance companies will send an agent. If this doesn’t happen, just ask for an agent to come and inspect the damage. And remind the person to bring some rain boots.

Remember the above instructions when that break occurs. After everything is under control and the water stops flowing, hand it over to the professionals. A well-informed homeowner is a happy—and dry—homeowner.

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