Burst pipes are typically a bigger issue in cold climates where pipes are more prone to freezing. Nonetheless, even here in sunny San Jose, pipes can still burst as a result of high water pressure, age, or various other issues.

When a pipe bursts, fast action is needed to contain the damage. Flooding like this can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. The water can quickly damage various parts of your home and lead to more serious problems, such as mold infestations.

With prompt action, you can stop the flow of water, reduce the risk of water damage, and get back on the right track. Our guide can help you know the best steps to take to minimize damage stemming from a burst pipe.

1. Turn Off Your Water

Your first step when a pipe bursts is to locate the main water valve. Ideally, you will know where this valve is before you need it. If not, you should be able to identify it quickly based on the type of foundation your home has.

Most homes in California are built on a slab foundation, which means that your water shut-off will likely be in either the garage or the utility room. Look near the water heater: Many homes are built with the shut-off valve located conveniently near the water heater. If your home instead has a basement or crawl space, this is almost always where the shut-off will be. Occasionally, the water shut-off will be located in the yard. If you’re unable to find it inside, check outside, especially if you have a crawl space. The valve could be located under rather than inside your home.

The main water line’s shut-off valve will normally be a gate valve or a ball valve. Gate valves are most common in older homes and have round red or green wheels that resemble the shut-off for hose bibs. Turn the valve clockwise to close the valve and turn off the water supply to your home. Ball valves are more common in newer homes. They have straight metal handles. You’ll need to turn the handle until it’s at a 90-degree angle to the water line.

If the flooding is near or surrounding the shut-off valve, do not walk through the water to turn it off. However, if you can safely reach the shut-off valve without walking through the flooded areas, turn it off before trying to clean it up. Flooding that is related to the water heater can be addressed by simply closing the hot water outlet pipe’s valve. This is generally located right above the water heater. Turning it off will stop the hot water leak from continuing, but you’ll still be able to use cold water elsewhere in your home in sinks, toilets, and other fixtures.

2. Shut Off the Electricity

Never walk through a flooded area to reach or turn off the water valve. If the burst pipe is located near the valve or you must walk through standing water to reach it, turn off the power to your home first. Stepping in water that has come into contact with any part of your home’s electrical system could put you at risk of electric shock or electrocution.

When the flooding is confined to a single room or area, you can simply turn off the circuits in that area by switching the circuit breakers to the “off” position. However, turning off the main breaker is ideal since it eliminates the risk of electrocution.

3. Drain Your Pipes

Once you’ve got the water and electricity shut off, you’ll need to place a call to a plumbing service so that you can get the pipe repaired and turn your water and electricity back on as soon as possible. While you’re waiting for the plumbing company to arrive, you can start draining the water out of all of your pipes or at least those pipes in the affected area.

For example, if the hot water line leading from the water heater bursts, you can turn your sinks and showers on “hot” to drain all the hot water lines. If a pipe supplying cold water bursts, turn all the plumbing fixtures on to drain the cold water lines.

Draining the water out of the pipes helps limit the amount of water able to leak out and can minimize the potential cleanup and damage. If you fail to drain the system, the broken pipe will continue to leak until the pipes are drained even with the water shut off. A pipe on an upper floor might not leak much or at all, but gravity will speed the process if a pipe downstairs bursts.

By draining the pipes, you’ll also simplify the plumber’s job, which means they’ll be able to repair the pipe more quickly. If you don’t, they will need to drain them before they can begin to perform the repair, and that extra time will add up when it comes to your repair bill.

4. Address the Water

Along with draining the water out of your pipes, you’ll also want to act immediately. While even short-term exposure to water can damage your property, that damage will be far more extensive and expensive if the water is allowed to sit.

Act quickly to eliminate as much of the excess water as you can. Fast action can help prevent warping, cracking, and buckling in wood floors. It might also help you avoid an expensive carpet replacement, which can be necessary if the water soaks through the carpet and into the subfloor.

Mold will start growing if the water isn’t cleaned up and dried as quickly as possible. This can happen within just 24 to 48 hours. Once mold takes root, you could find yourself facing the replacement of drywall, insulation, carpets, upholstery, and more. You may even need professional mold remediation services in severe cases.

To speed up the drying process, use a wet-dry vacuum to suck up the bulk of the water. Use towels to soak up the remaining visible water left by the vacuum. Finally, turn fans on “high” in the affected areas to circulate air. You can also use a dehumidifier to remove the excess humidity from the air and dry the area faster.

5. Contact Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter for Help

Whether you’re dealing with a pipe that has burst or a water heater that suddenly starts leaking, Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all of your emergency plumbing needs. Our licensed plumbers are experts in all types of plumbing repairs. We can also inspect and maintain your home’s plumbing and sewer system to reduce the chances of any emergencies arising. As the number-one plumbing company in San Jose and Silicon Valley, we’re ready to take care of all of your plumbing, drain, and sewer needs so give us a call today.

Josh Gibson

Hi, I’m Josh. I’ve been around plumbing my whole life. When I was 5-6 years old my family built a home where I did a lot of the sanding of copper pipe and definitely some playing in the mud. Plumbing is a major part of my family as I am a fourth-generation plumber. The skills I bring to the job are a good technical knowledge of plumbing and code requirements. I am often complimented on my hands-on problem-solving skills.
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