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What to Do if a Pipe Bursts

Leaked and splash water from the plastic pipe

Pipe bursts are not something most homeowners think about because they rarely happen. It is essential to know what to do should you experience a burst pipe and what signs to look for.

What Causes a Pipe to Burst?

Pipes can burst for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common causes could include:

#1. Clogged Plumbing Lines

Clogs can cause water pressure in the water lines to increase behind the clog. When the clog is farther down the drain line, pressure can build. As the pressure increases, it has to go somewhere. If it cannot push the clog out of the way, it could cause pipes to burst.

#2. Pipe Corrosion

If you have an older home with steel or iron pipes, the pipes can start to corrode when the galvanization wears off. Eventually, the rust can cause weaknesses in the pipe’s structure that could cause it to burst.

#3. The Pipes Shift

Pipe shifts can occur if you repair areas around the pipes, such as renovating the kitchen or bathroom. Accidentally moving the pipes could cause fittings to come loose, leading to water leaks and eventual bursts.

#4. Water Knocking

If air gets into the pipes, it can cause knocking sounds that can alter the water pressure. If the water pressure becomes too high, it can cause older pipes to burst.

#5. The Pipes Freeze

While frozen pipes rarely occur in San Antonio and the Austin area, there are times the temperatures can get cold enough to freeze the water in exposed pipes. As the pipes freeze, ice expands and pushes outward, causing pipes to crack. When the water thaws and water pressure returns, it will push out through the cracks, creating a burst.

#6. Rodents

Mice and rats can chew through PVC pipes to get to water. Even if they do not chew through the pipe and create a water leak, their damage weakens pipes, so bursts can occur unexpectedly.

Signs a Pipe Has Burst

When a major pipe burst occurs, you will notice it as the water pools, runs down walls, and causes water damage to your home. However, in cases where smaller amounts of water are leaking out, it can take longer to notice you have a problem. So, you will want to watch for these other signs that could indicate a pipe has burst:

  • Reduced Water Pressure
  • Water Stains on the Ceiling and Walls
  • Water Coming From Under Sinks, Tubs, Showers, Etc.
  • Rust-Colored Water
  • Increased Water Bills
  • Mold and Mildew Problems That Keep Returning
  • Sounds of Dripping or Running Water Coming from the Walls
  • Water Pooling Under the Water Heater
  • The Basement or Crawl Space Is Constantly Damp and Wet
  • Air in the Water Supply Lines

What Do I Do if a Pipe Bursts?

The first thing you want to do is shut off the water supply to the pipe that burst. You want to prevent further damage to your home and stop the water flowing out of the pipe. Until you can pinpoint where the burst occurred, it is best to shut off the water main and then do the following:

  • Shut off the electrical supply to power outlets and light fixtures in areas where it got wet.
  • Turn on a few faucets throughout the home to remove excess water still in the water lines and relieve water pressure.
  • Clean up the excess water to reduce the amount of water damage and prevent mold and mildew
  • Call a plumber and let them know you have a burst water pipe.
  • Open up cabinet doors if the burst occurred under and sink.
  • Clean up carpeting that got soaked, using a wet-dry
  • Turn on ceiling fans and use floor fans or space heaters to help dry the damaged area.
  • For frozen pipes, increase the warm air flow by opening cabinet doors or using a hair dryer to increase heat.

When your plumber arrives, let them know what you have already done. If you have discovered where the pipe burst, let them know that too. After the burst is fixed, it is highly recommended to have your plumber check for other leaks in case other pipes have burst.

How to Prevent Future Burst Pipes

smiling plumber holding clipboard and looking at camera in kitchen

Preventing future burst pipes depends on what causes the initial burst. For example, if the burst occurred from frozen pipes, get your pipes insulated. On the other hand, if the burst occurred because your pipes are older, it is a good idea to have all the plumbing in the home updated.

Other things you can do include:

  • Keep an eye on your water bill for unexpected increases in usage.
  • Turn on cold water on several faucets in the home and let it drip to prevent pipes from freezing on cold nights.
  • Shut off water to outdoor spigots in the winter.
  • Add more insulation to your crawl space or basement.

No one wants to experience a burst pipe in their home. However, they do occur. Being prepared for one and knowing what to do can help reduce water damage to your home.

Additionally, taking preventative measures—like having your plumber do a detailed plumbing inspection to determine what pipe burst risks your home has—can help reduce the risks of burst pipes.

In the event you experience a burst pipe, the plumbers at Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing are available 24/7. For emergency plumbing services in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, and the Austin Metro Area, call us at 512-246-5400 today!

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