What to Do When You Have a Burst Pipe

Finding a burst pipe in your home is stressful, but knowing how to handle the situation helps mitigate the damage. Learn more about why pipes burst, how to know if a pipe has burst, and crucial steps to take if you encounter this plumbing emergency.

Why Do Pipes Burst?

The most common reasons behind burst pipes include:

  • Clogs: Blockages increase the pressure within the pipe because water can’t flow freely. Over time, this pressure can cause the pipe to expand and eventually burst.
  • Frozen pipes: During the cold Canadian winter, poorly insulated pipes in unheated areas of your home run the risk of freezing. Water expands as it freezes, exerting immense pressure on the pipe walls, which can cause the pipe to crack or burst entirely.
  • Corrosion: Page l pipes can rust over time due to chemical reactions between the pipe material and minerals in the water. Corrosion weakens the pipe’s structural integrity, making it more susceptible to bursting under normal pressure.
  • Soil shifting: Natural occurrences like earthquakes or human activities such as construction can cause the soil around your property to shift. This shifting soil applies external pressure on underground pipes, leading to cracks or bursts.

Signs of a Burst Pipe

Not sure how to know if a pipe has burst? Watch for these signs:

  • Unstable water pressure: A sudden drop or inconsistency in water pressure is a clear sign something is wrong with your plumbing. This issue can range from a minor leak to a major burst pipe. If the water pressure drops at a single fixture, the problem might be localized. However, if your entire home experiences low pressure, it could indicate a more significant issue with your main water line.
  • Discoloured walls: Water stains or discoloration on walls are telltale signs of water damage from a leaky or burst pipe.
  • Puddles: Unexplained areas of standing water often signal a leak. Ignoring this sign can lead to floor damage and an increased risk of mould growth.
  • Contaminated water: If the water flowing from your taps is discoloured or unusual-tasting, it could be due to a burst underground pipe allowing dirt and debris into your water supply.
  • Musty smells: Musty odours often develop from areas that remain damp due to hidden leaks, fostering mould growth.

How to Prevent Burst Pipes?

Take the following steps to prevent burst pipes, safeguard your home from water damage, and deflect costly repairs:

  • React early: Regularly inspecting visible pipes for signs of wear, corrosion, or exposure to freezing temperatures can help you catch developing problems before a burst occurs.
  • Insulate pipes: Pipe insulation acts as a protective layer, preventing water inside the pipes from freezing and expanding. Properly insulate exposed plumbing in the basement, attic, and exterior walls to protect them from cold temperatures.
  • Maintain a warm home: Set your thermostat to 15 degrees C or higher at all times, even when you’re away from home, to help prevent frozen pipes.
  • Let taps drip: Run a slight trickle of water from vulnerable faucets during bitterly cold weather to prevent pressure buildup and freezing.

Things to Do When a Pipe Bursts

If you’re faced with a burst pipe, acting swiftly and efficiently can minimize the damage. Here’s what to do if a pipe bursts:

  • Shut off the water: Cutting off the water supply to your home stops water from flowing through the damaged pipe and reduces the potential for water damage. To save precious time in an emergency, familiarize yourself with where the main shut-off valve is located and how to operate it before a pipe bursts.
  • Seal the leak temporarily: Once the water is turned off, you can temporarily seal the burst pipe with rags, towels, epoxy putty, or plumber’s tape. Wrapping the affected area helps contain the damage until a professional plumber can make permanent repairs.
  • Call a plumber: After mitigating the damage, the next step is to contact a professional. Licensed plumbers have the tools, knowledge, and experience to assess the damage, make durable repairs, and advise additional steps to prevent future bursts.

How Dispatch Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Can Help with a Burst Pipe

There’s nothing more urgent and frustrating than dealing with a burst pipe. That’s why Dispatch Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning offers 24/7 emergency plumbing repair, so you can always count on us when you need us the most! Our family-owned and operated company has 20 years of experience repairing burst pipes and other plumbing problems. We’re committed to your comfort and satisfaction, going the extra mile to restore peace of mind. The next time you discover a burst pipe in your the Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver-area home, contact us at 778-508-1106 to request fast, reliable emergency plumbing services.
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