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Burst Pipe 101: What to Do

Burst pipes can be devastating for homeowners. Sometimes, you might not even know there's a problem until your drywall is mushy and crumbling, or your home's structure is riddled with wood rot and mold because of unnoticed water damage. Other times, a burst pipe can flood your basement, yard or bathroom—destroying your precious possessions and leaving a stressful mess in its wake.

Although some causes of damaged fixtures can be prevented, all responsible Long Island homeowners should know what to do when a pipe bursts. That's why our experts at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Central Long Island put together this guide. Although we'll be there for you in an emergency, it's still beneficial to arm yourself with as much information you can. Read on to discover common causes of damage, signs you need repairs, what to do in an emergency and how to prevent future leaks.

Causes of Damage

If you come home to a living room filled with cold water, you might be wondering: “How did this happen?” There are many reasons why pipes burst, but most causes are quite common. Plumbing damage is cumulative—it doesn't just happen overnight. That's why it's critical you know the warning signs, and take good care of your plumbing year-round. A few common causes of damage include:

Frozen Fixtures

Cold weather, particularly in the winter, may cause your pipes to freeze. Temperatures lower than 32 degrees means ice could form in your plumbing system. This causes metal to contract and your system to weaken—eventually leading to a broken pipe. When it heats up quickly—say you turn on the hot water in your shower—both the ice and pipe shatters. It's important to keep your home warm during the winter, even taking time to heat up areas that aren't used frequently, to prevent this from happening.

Corrosion

Typically, corrosion happens because of an imbalance in your water's pH and rust development. As the corrosion worsens, vulnerable pipes will eventually break and leak or burst.

Clogs

A nuisance wherever they pop up in your plumbing system, clogs are a frustrating—if common—occurrence. Generally, if a clog is near the surface of a drain, like in your kitchen sink, it doesn't put too much strain on your plumbing. However, if it's deep within the system, water pressure builds up around the clog. Since it has nowhere else to go, it starts to leak. Should the clog be left unattended for too long, the pressure will grow too strong and the structure will burst.

Movement

It's natural for your home—and the plumbing system within—to shift and settle over time. Sometimes, your plumbing system shifts during the winter because cold temperatures cause it to contract. Shifts can cause the system to shake and water pressure to become too high. Like a clog, increased pressure can cause a burst.

Signs You Need Repairs

Sometimes, pipe damage can be hidden within the walls of your home. Other times, it's blatantly obvious you have a break. Look for the following signs:

  • Puddles

  • Issues with water pressure

  • Wall stains and major damage to drywall

  • Increased energy bills

  • Discolored water

  • Smelly water

  • Constant dripping or strange water noises in the wall

  • Irregular noises, like clangs and bubbling

How to Prevent Damage?

The best thing you can do to prevent emergencies is booking annual drain cleaning and maintenance services. This prevents clogs that might put too much strain on your system, and troubleshoots any problem areas.

Our company uses cutting-edge technology to clean your drains: HydroScrub® jetting. This machine shoots an incredibly high-pressure stream of water through your plumbing system. It's totally natural and friendly to the environment and blasts away even the most stubborn buildup. We pair it with our Enzymatic Drain Care solution, which ensures your pipes perform optimally by scrubbing away any remaining residue.

Between regular cleanings, there are a few things you should know to prevent plumbing issues:

  • Avoid putting fibrous vegetables, coffee grinds and egg shells down the sink

  • Do not pour grease, oil or fat down the drain

  • Use a catch to prevent hair clogging up your shower

  • Never put baby wipers, hygiene products, diapers or other objects down your toilet

What to Do When You Have a Burst Pipe

In an emergency situation it might seem like there's nothing you can do—especially amidst the panic. But, homeowners actually have more control over a pipe bursting than you might initially think. While a qualified plumber needs to complete any repairs, there are a few steps you can take that will minimize damage and get the situation under control:

1. Turn off the main water supply. Do not turn your water on until a professional plumber says you can.

2. Call a plumber. It's best to have a company on speed dial for emergency situations.

3. Clean away excess water. This will help mitigate water damage.

4. Drain faucets to remove any water left in the system.

5. Turn up the heat in your home, or use a hair dryer to warm frozen pipes (if this is the cause of damage).

6. Circulate fresh air by keeping doors and windows open. In warm weather, this will speed up the drying process.

7. Repair pipe sleeves. Designed to be a temporary fix, simply slip on the sleeve to cover the hole or break. This is not an alternative for repair or pipe replacement work.

8. Homeowners can also use rubber, a wood piece and a clamp to temporarily repair the damage. Place the rubber on top of the hole, followed by the wood, and clamp it together. This fix will not last long, so only use it in emergencies.

Call the Pros at Mr. Rooter!

At Mr. Rooter, our team of licensed plumbers have years of experience, industry skills and the proper equipment required to complete both pipe replacement and repair services. Also, we offer comprehensive cleaning and inspections so you can prevent future damage to your plumbing system with routine maintenance.

If you're worried there's a burst pipe hiding in your home, or you have questions about our plumbing services, we invite you to give us a call at 631-542-2194. We offer both scheduled service and emergency response. You can also request a request an appointment online