Water pipes frozen over in winter.

Three Steps to Take if a Frozen Pipe Bursts

When temperatures drop below the freezing point, any exposed plumbing lines that are exposed to these temperatures also run the risk of freezing over. This can be a real nightmare for homeowners. When the water inside these exposed lines freezes, it expands. If there is no space in the water line to expand into, the now-frozen water exerts tremendous pressure on the walls of the plumbing lines containing it. When the pressure builds and builds, it eventually causes the lines to crack or even burst apart. As soon as the water in the line melts, it begins gushing out and could cause severe damage by flooding all or part of your home.

While we always recommend taking care of frozen pipes through preventative methods rather than reactive repairs, sometimes you can’t help the fact that you’re going to have to deal with the emergency that is a burst pipe. Finding a burst pipe can cause everything from stress to uncertainty to even outright panic, but taking the right steps quickly enough can prevent much of the serious damage that would otherwise impact your home.

Here are three steps to follow right away if a frozen pipe in your home bursts.

Shut Off Your Water

The first thing you should do is immediately shut off the water supply to your home or to the impacted pipe. While some lines may be able to be separated from the rest of the lines in your home with a shutoff valve, most water lines are connected to your home’s main emergency shutoff valve. You’ll need to turn off all water supply to your home to prevent further leaks while you await repairs.

Your emergency shutoff valve is usually located in one of three common locations:

  • In your garage or in a closet located near the front of your home. Most public water mains are installed beneath the roads, and thus that makes your front-facing garage or closet the closest point to your water main and thus the best place to put your shutoff valve. Look for it on an exposed plumbing line on a wall in one of these locations.
  • Beneath a cover on the sidewalk in front of your home. Sometimes a water shutoff valve is located beneath a concrete cover on the sidewalk that runs immediately in front of your home. In some cases, this is both where your water meter and your emergency shutoff valve are located.
  • Near the water heater. In some cases, the main water shutoff valve is located near your water heater. This ensures that your water heater always has a steady supply of water and also makes it extremely convenient to shut off your water in the event that your water heater experiences an emergency. Don’t get it confused with your water heater’s water shutoff valve—they may look similar.

Once you locate your shutoff valve, turn it to the off position in order to stop water from flowing through your home. Opening a faucet or two around your home should help to relieve the water pressure in your plumbing lines and stop the flow even faster.

Locate the Pipe & Call for Repairs

In some cases, the location of the burst is extremely obvious. However, if the pipe that has burst is inside your walls, it may not be quite as apparent. If the flooding is restricted to one area of your home, then you have a good starting point for your search. Look for signs of significant damage in one area, such as substantial water damage along one wall, particularly exterior-facing walls; for the most part, pipes in interior walls won’t freeze.

Once you’re able to locate the leak, you may have to cut into your drywall in order to verify that you’ve got it right. Don’t be afraid to do this—the water damage your drywall has already suffered means it will need to be replaced anyway so you’re just expediting the process. Once you locate the leak, reach out to a professional plumber and have them come out to complete a repair as soon as possible.

Begin the Drying Process

While getting a plumbing repair is important, it’s not the only important repair you need to do after flooding damage. Flooding can cause mold and mildew growth in impacted areas, including in the wooden structure of your home, the base of carpets and rugs, upholstery on furniture, fabric curtains and drapes, and even in personal property or possessions that may have been soaked by the flooding. It can take as little as 48 to 72 hours for mold colonies to begin forming, so you need to start the drying process as soon as possible.

Mold and flood damage remediation companies are experts in doing this. They have tools that are specifically designed for drying large areas and unique materials like carpets, drywall, and wood. Many can often restore things like furniture and other personal possessions as well so you don’t have to go out and replace them.

If your home has been impacted by a burst plumbing line, call Titanium Plumbing and Heating at (201) 355-5582 today and we’ll come to you to get it fixed right away.

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