First Response: What To Do When You Discover A Burst Pipe

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When your home is flooding because of a burst pipe, your mind might be scrambled and overwhelmed with everything you need to do in a short period of time. You can minimize the risk of personal injury and stop the spread of damage if you know what to do and how to do it in a quick, efficient manner.

Here's what every homeowner should know about responding to burst pipes

1. Shut off the water supply valve. 

This valve shuts off the water supply to the house so that you immediately stop the flood. It is usually located in the basement, in a utility room, or outside on the exterior of the house. If you have to go down into water to turn it off, make sure you are wearing rubber boots to protect yourself from any live currents that could travel through the water. Shutting off the breaker to the part of the house that was affected can help reduce the risk of electrocution. 

2. Call your local plumber.

After the water is no longer pouring into the home, you'll want to call an emergency plumber to come and assess the pipe. Since you won't be able to have running water (including toilets) until the pipe is repaired, getting it done should be top priority. The plumber can also advise you on other weak spots in your plumbing and why the pipe might have burst in the first place. Pipes can burst from freezing, fatigue, age, or poorly regulated water pressure. You want to make sure you have the measures in place to stop it from happening again. 

3. Start clearing out the water.

Now the clean-up begins. The sooner you get water out of your home, the more you reduce the risk of other health hazards developing, including mold and mildew growth that will only add the expense of cleanup. Use a wet vacuum for standing water. Open all the windows, especially if you live in an area where the air is warmer and drier than the air inside your home. Bailing out the water with buckets can also be effective if you have enough people present to assist.

4. Move items out to dry.

Your next move will be to save what you can. Furniture can often be dried and restored after water damage. Some papers and books may also be saved. Bikes, power tools, and even laundry machines may also still be salvageable. Clothing, stored food, Christmas decor, and other more expendable items may not be worth the time it would take to save and dry them. You may need the help of a professional flood crew to help with the process of drying out your belongings and your home. 

5. Call your insurance company.

Most people have some sort of flood insurance included in their policy. Burst pipes and the damage they do can fall under the umbrella of your policy, which will help if you need a lot of repairs and replacement items. You should call your insurance company early on because you won't know if they will want you to pull up carpets, wood, or drywall without an assessor first seeing the extent of the damage. Until you get the all-clear from insurance, do not begin any immediate demo work. 

5. Clear out affected areas.

Finally, you can start pulling out carpets and other "perishable" room components that will only mold or rot. These are health hazards and are almost always replaced after any sort of in-home flood, even if the water was clean. 

For more information, contact a plumber in your area. 

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