What to Do When Your Pipe Breaks
The plumbing in your home is something you probably take for granted.
After all, if the water is running, the toilets are flushing, and you’re not even thinking about your sewers, then you know all is well, and you’re free to worry about other things.
But, when something big happens in your plumbing system, for example, a pipe breaks, then you’re consumed by the thought since you now have a flooding emergency on your hands.
If this happens to you, don’t panic. Here is a helpful guide that will help you to know exactly what to do.
What Causes Pipe Breaks?
There are several things that can cause pipe breaks in your home. Temperature, poor usage, or lack of maintenance are all possible causes. Check this list to see if any are applicable to your situation.
- Weather: Extremely cold weather is a very common cause for pipe breaks. Water that freezes inside a pipe causes the pipe to expand, and possibly burst. Hot weather can sometimes cause grounds to dry out and shrink, and plumbing to shift, which can cause a break, though this is less common.
Old plumbing: If your home and/or the plumbing in the home is over 50 years old, there is always a possibility of pipe breaks. Pipes in older homes are usually made from cast iron, which corrodes over time, or from clay, which can crack with age.
Trees: Older trees with roots that sit near your water or sewer lines can often cause breaks or clogs in your plumbing.
- Thick soil: Heavy soil, such as clay is thick and has little drainage, which can cause pipe damage. Clay soil can also corrode pipes over time.
- Untreated clogs: Persistent clogs in your plumbing can build up and cause pressure and breakage to a pipe. Pouring grease in a drain or flushing items down the toilet that shouldn’t be flushed are common causes of pressure breaks.
Corrosive materials: Neves pour solvents down your sink or drain, as this will weaken or damage your pipes, possibly causing them to leak or break.
Steps to Take When a Pipe Breaks
These are the four big steps to take when you have a pipe leak or break. You will want to act immediately on these, especially if there is a lot of water or seepage present at or around the leak site.
Stop the water
If you can collect the leaking water in a bucket or container, do so. At the same time, turn off the main water switch in your house, which is usually connected where the main service pipe is connected to your house.
Next, drain your pipes by running all your faucets on cold and flushing each toilet.
If your water heater is leaking, turn the valve near the heater off and shut the electrical breaker to the heater off as well.
Once the hot water system is off, run the hot water in each of your faucets as you did with the cold.
Once there is no more running water at your taps, the leak will stop.
Check Your Water Meter, Locate the Pipe
Your water meter is located outside your house. If the meter indicator is moving, then a leak is confirmed. Check for signs of water in the ceiling, walls, floors, and then try to follow that wetness down into your basement or crawlspace.
If your sewer line is leaking, you can simply follow the smell to locate the leak.
If you can locate the source of the leak, check to see the extent of the pipe’s damage. For a short-term fix, you can patch it with commercial-grade tape or a bonding solvent. Your next step, however, is to fix the pipe permanently.
Call a Plumbing Professional for Pipe Break Repair
You might consider yourself a DIY expert, but when dealing with broken water and sewer pipes, a professional plumber will be able to repair or replace the offending pipework permanently, alleviating your worries. The plumber will inspect the leak and use special equipment to determine the cause, and then repair it as necessary.
If you experience multiple leaks over time, or the water pressure is consistently low, and you live in an older home, you will want to have your house repiped. New pipes are made from better materials, and your professional will advise you on the best plan for your situation.
Dry Out Your House
If the water leaks are extensive in the house, it will not be enough to run fans and open windows to dry out. Mold and mildew can form quickly, which can be a health hazard for your family. A professional water restoration company can help dry your home completely.
After the house is completely dry, and the pipe breaks repaired, turn all electrical breakers back on and then run your cold and hot water for a minute or two. Remember to flush the toilets before resuming use.
Sewer Pipe Backup and Repair
Even more troubling than water leaks, sewer backup is messy and can cause contamination in your home.
If only one of your toilets backs up, you can use a snake to try and dislodge the backup. If all your toilets or sinks back up, the problem is much larger, and will again require a professional plumber to assess and correct the issue.
There are several ways to correct sewer pipe breaks that do not require digging up a yard to access and repair pipes. Your plumber can help you determine the correct method for your situation.
You may need a restoration service to clean and sanitize your home if your sewer backup is severe. If you have a septic tank system, it is important to perform regular maintenance to avoid disgusting backups.
Keeping Your Pipes Healthy
To prevent future pipe problems, like pipe breaks, watch what you flush or pour into your pipes. Keep a check on trees outside the home for roots that may damage pipework. If temperatures get low in your area, insulate your pipes to prevent freezing.
Use mesh screens on your drains to keep clogs from forming, and clean your drains once a month with a drain cleaner, or even baking soda.
Finally, don’t allow repeated backups. Call a plumber sooner rather than later to avoid costly repairs or replacements.
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