Most of us have to deal with burst pipes at some point because they tend to happen and can happen at any given time of the year. However, you could find your hands full with a plumbing emergency during winter; it does occur a lot then, especially if the pipes are in an unheated and uninsulated region of your home. Have you ever had problems with burst pipes during winter?
In this article, we will look at the steps you should take in case of a plumbing emergency and the actions you can choose to address the problem if possible.
What is the immediate reaction?
First things first, do not forget to stay calm and assess the situation. The minute you start fretting and getting frustrated, it is when you start to lose the battle with a burst pipe. You start running around losing focus and precious time, and before you know it, the problem is squarely out of your hands. Trust me; you do not want this to happen.
So your immediate reaction should be to get a hold of yourself, after all, you are not facing any toxic waste. If the waste line does burst, it is still a solvable problem.
How to stop the water after a burst pipe.
First, you should know that your home must have at least two central valves. You will find the valves near your meter, set before and after the meter at best. You need to switch off the valves to stop the water. It is imperative that you switch off both plugs, this is because these valves sometimes leak after years without use.
You can easily lessen a lot of the pressure left in the system by sticking a container on the sink and drawing the water. You might as well keep as much of the water you catch as you can because you are going to need it, who knows, it could take some time before the issue is resolved entirely. You might try to catch some water in the bathroom too. However, there won’t be that much left.
Taking care of damages after a burst pipe.
Once the water is cut off, you can go ahead and examine the pipes to see where precisely the burst took place. In most cases, the pipe is located in the wall, and you can even notice water oozing out of the baseboard or it could be coming out of the ceiling. Whichever the case, you have to decide what to do with it later. Remember, if there is too much water after a burst pipe, wading about in the water is not advisable due to the risk of electrocution.
If there isn’t much water, to fare on the side of caution, you might still want to cut off the electricity from the main switch. This way you can quickly assess damages without running the risk of accidental electrocutions.
Before you begin hunting for the burst pipe, there are safety measures to take:
Move everything of value a place higher.
Any crucial documents in cabinets should be pulled out and kept somewhere higher.
You ought to unplug every wire connecting appliances, and if there any hanging about on the floor, the also need to go.
Anything like a furnace or water heater cut off their power.
It is worth considering that if the burst pipe is in the ceiling or the wall, you might want to drain the water even though you can leave it to drain on its own. This will, however, impact the strength capability of the drywall. Of course, replacing drywall is not at all costly. Still, you choose what you want to do.
Any fabrics, rugs, clothes should be taken out of the water to avoid damages. If there is a carpet affected, the best course of action would be to call a professional cleaner t the water dry. Anyhow, unless there is someone around to help you, it is not wise to start the repair task until you have everything which requires salvaging is salvaged.
Taking note of valves and assessing pipes for repair.
When you are now done salvaging your valuables and keeping them safe from another water mishap, then you can start figuring out how to fix the problem at hand.
As you already know now, your home utilizes two significant valves, each one before and after the meter. These, however, are probably not all the valves. There is possibly another right where the water redirects into your home. There is also a likelihood that another shutoff valve is situated right outside your home, this is the valve water companies use to cut off your water supply when you default on payment.
Additionally, your plumber may have put in place an inline cutoff valve somewhere in the basement which should help you cut off the water that goes through a particular section of your house. One thing to know in advance is that for every spigot or hose bib which leaves your home, there is probably have a shut-off valve somewhere in the basement or perhaps crawlspace.
It is worth noting that both the sink and the toilet have their valves situated right below them. There is also a cutoff valve for refrigerator water filters. You will likely find the valve on the wall where you see the feedline connection. It could also be in the basement.
Your washing machine will likely have a cutoff on the wall where the hose-line connects to a box.
Well, the valves thing does not get any better, does it? You might wish your plumber had split your home into segments and had in place shutoff valves for the bathrooms and kitchens. The idea is to come across one of the inline cutoff valves that feed water directly to the section of the house where the burst pipe is located. Once you find that valve, you turn it off and then you can go ahead and return the water to other areas of the house. You do not have to go without any water at all if you can do this, it will surely save you from painful wait you may have to undergo before your plumbing emergency is fixed.
Time to repair the burst pipe.
So you have completed all the pre-requisites. You have removed all valuables from risk places. You have spied around and have found the leaking pipe. You have cut off water towards the region of the burst pipe, and finally, you have restored some function to the other areas of the house. Now, the only thing left in the way is trying to fix the burst pipe.
How best do you approach the repair task?
The only way you can securely repair a burst pipe is by replacing it. If it happens that the leaking pipe is made of copper or any other metal, you should be able to take away that segment by smoldering each end out of their fittings using a torch. While doing that, you can inspect other pipes around that same region and see if they require replacements.
When the pipe is a sewer line
There are various reasons why the main sewer line in your home could burst. One of those reasons is back-flow from the neighborhood in case of a recent storm, which resulted in pressure. Another reason the sewer line could burst is physical damage.
Here are a few immediate things you can do for a burst sewer line:
- Secure the sewer line to avoid letting gas into your home.
- Check if the pipe is broken in two places and if it is, use rags and duct tape to secure both ends.
- If you realize that it is only a crack, you can fasten a cloth and duct tape around it.
Still, the above actions are just band-aid solutions which will not correctly solve the problem at hand. For a permanent solution, you will have to call a professional who will cut off the broken section and replace it with another piece of pipe. Well, unless you have some experience, it’s best not to try to fix a sewer pipe by yourself, especially if the pipe is made of cast iron.
Well, this article does not necessarily tell you all you need to know about fixing burst pipes. However, the information here will likely come in handy in case of such an emergency. As long as you keep in mind a few points, you will not suffer much damage or any at all. Know the location of the shutoff valves to turn them off at once, if you did not know where they were before, look around for the meter. And if it happens that you have no idea where your meter is, get to finding it soon before you face an unpleasant emergency.
Once you know all the water valves and where to find them, it is only reasonable that you note them down so that you can remind yourself when you end up forgetting.