What to Do When Your Pipes Burst Over the Winter Months
The damage caused by a frozen or a ruptured pipe can be catastrophic to a household – especially during the colder months!
Burst pipes are a common problem in the winter and can cause a whole load of trouble for you and your family. Pipes often buckle and split in the winter due to the drop in temperature and can lead to flooding.
So, what do you do if your pipes burst?
If your home has been struck with a burst pipe, give our 24/7 Emergency Services a call on (703) 670-8519.
Insulating your pipes ahead of time will ensure that they don’t split as easily, but it can’t always be avoided. Here’s our guide to preventing burst pipes over the winter months.
What are the warning signs of a leaking pipe?
Before your pipes burst, there can be a lot of warning signs that will indicate that something is wrong with your plumbing system.
These signs can include:
- Weird noises from your heating system when it’s in use
- Your boiler isn’t turning on correctly
- Little or no water is coming out of your faucets
- Your sinks are clogging up
- Your toilet is flushing slowly
What pipes freeze during the winter?
When searching for a frozen pipe, it’s good to remember that all external pipes can be at risk during cold and icy weather. So, checking the pipes that run outside is a good place to start.
Other pipes that are most likely to freeze will be in the colder areas of your home like the attic, basement or exterior walls.
Be sure to check the pipes coming out of your boiler as well as this is a common area for leaks to spring.
How to thaw out a frozen pipe
To thaw out your frozen pipe, you’ll need to pour some hot, but not boiling, water over the frozen area. You can also use a hot water bottle to thaw the ice by pressing it up against the affected area. This will help reduce the pressure that is being put on your plumbing system.
How to locate a burst pipe
You might think that a burst pipe would be easy to find, but they can be tricky enough to find if they’re a slow leak. Burst pipes cause the most damage when they go unnoticed. When a leak begins to build-up, it can cause a lot of damage to your home and electrical system in the long run.
Here are a few things you can look out for when searching for a burst pipe:
- Issues with the water pressure in different rooms of your home
- Interrupted water supply to your faucets
- Watermarks visible on your ceilings or walls
- Bulges on your ceilings or walls
- Your flooring has damp patches
- Your walls have bubbling paint or wallpaper
What do you do if you have a leaking pipe?
Turn off your water supply
If you discover a leak in your home, it’s important that you turn off your water supply immediately. You shouldn’t switch it back on until the damage is fixed by a plumber.
Drain the system
It’s necessary that you get all of the water out of the leaking pipe as soon as you can so it doesn’t cause any further damage to your property.
You can do this by opening all of your faucets and allowing them to run until they are completely drained. You can then close them again and keep them shut until the damage is fixed.
Soak up excess water
To help minimize the amount of damage done by the flooding, try to soak up as much water as you can with towels.
If you have a substantial amount of standing water in your home, you can ask your insurance provider to advise you on what to do next.
Make sure your electrics are safe
If you think that the escaped water might have come in contact with any of your electrical equipment, then be sure to turn off the power at the mains.
You’ll need to be aware of any appliances that might have been affected by the leak, and you shouldn’t turn them on again until you’re confident they are dried out and have been looked over by a qualified electrician.
Contact your insurance provider
Most insurance companies have an emergency helpline running 24hrs a day, so get in touch as soon as you can.
Take lots of photos of the flooded property, showing every piece of damage in clear detail. Gather any receipts for maintenance companies you had to hire and proof of purchase for any of your damaged belongings.
You can talk to your insurance provider for more details and advice on what the next step is.
Pro tip: Call a registered plumber
Don’t run the risk of employing a plumber who isn’t qualified for the job. If you take somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing, they could make your situation worse and cost you more money in the long run. Make sure the plumber you hire is registered and fully equipped to take on your job.
While you are waiting for your plumber to arrive, you can make a temporary fix to the leaky pipe. Tightly wrap some heavy-duty tape or cloth around the leak to help stop it from leaking further. Do not use this as a permanent fix as it won’t last very long. Make sure you call a professional to come and repair your pipe for you.