What to do if a pipe bursts in your home
Last updated: December 2023
If you’ve found a burst pipe in your home and you’re wondering how to address it, read on to find out what to do about this issue. We’ll also cover how to prevent them from happening and if it’s typically covered by home insurance.
You found a burst pipe. What can you do?
There are a few things you can do to slow the leak and mitigate damage when a pipe bursts in your home. Here are five tips from Consumer Reports:
1. Shut off the water
Turn off the water main (or main water valve) to your home, to minimize water damage.
2. Open your faucets up
Turning faucets on will keep the pipes open and can reduce the pressure downstream of any water still in your pipe(s).
3. Call a plumber
Before unplugging any appliances, call a plumber or water-removal professional who can help ensure that everything's done safely. They should be able to help turn off your electrical breakers, if needed.
4. Begin getting rid of the water
You can begin cleanup yourself, but to help mitigate damage to walls, floors and ceilings, Consumer Reports recommends contacting a water-removal company that's certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).
5. Contact your insurance provider
Your insurance provider may be able to supply options for water-removal services it works with, who can respond quickly to any immediate water damage.
Warning signs of frozen pipes in your home
Pipes are particularly susceptible to breaks during cold weather. It's important for homeowners to spot any signs of frozen pipes, so that they can take the necessary steps to prevent any possible issues like a burst pipe. According to Family Handyman, here are a few signs that might indicate you have a frozen pipe in your home:
- Little or no water pressure from sinks, showers or faucets
- Frost build-up on any exposed pipes
- Damp sections of drywall, carpet or ceilings
- Strange smells coming from faucets or drains
How can you prevent burst pipes?
Freezing temperatures can be the most common culprit of pipes bursting. When water freezes it expands, which can cause the pressure inside the pipe to increase until it bursts. The American Red Cross recommends taking the following preventive measures to prevent your pipes from freezing:
- If you have a sprinkler system and/or swimming pool, drain it per the manufacturer's or installer's instructions.
- Remove and store your garden hoses in the garage and turn off the water valves to outdoor faucets. Keep the outside valve open in order to let any remaining water escape. This also allows water sitting in the pipe to freeze and expand without busting it open.
- Check for any exposed pipes in unheated areas of your house — like your basement, attic, garage, and crawl space. Insulate both hot and cold-water pipes with pipe sleeves or heat tape, which can be found at a hardware store.
- Keep your garage door closed as much as possible if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- If you go on vacation during the winter months, leave your heater on and set at a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.