A burst pipe is a plumbing emergency that often occurs in Australian households.
It is caused when a pipe splits, cracks or bursts, causing water to escape uncontrollably. As such, burst pipes can be a nightmare for homeowners, causing extensive damage to property, furniture, and other household items.
Acting quickly minimises further damage when faced with a burst pipe. Even a small burst pipe can lead to significant water damage if left unaddressed for an extended period. Plus, water travels through walls and floors, causing mould and structural damage that can be expensive to repair.
So, in this article, we’ll guide you on what to do when you have a burst pipe. We’ll also share some simple ways to locate a burst pipe and prevent such plumbing issues in the future.
Warning Signs Of A Burst Pipe
Since a burst in the plumbing system can cause significant water damage, it is essential to identify some telltale signs of a burst water pipe. Accordingly, you can contact a professional plumber or a water damage restoration company to fix the problem promptly.
Here are some signs you must watch out for:
1. Pipe Noises
Strange sounds and metallic clangs from the pipes can indicate a problem that may lead to water leaks and bursts. Usually, the pipes should not make any noise when water flows through them, but if there is a break or damage, they may shake and produce sounds.
2. Water Sounds
Another indication of a burst pipe is the sound of water in the walls. If you hear a steady water-dripping sound, a pipe inside the wall may be the culprit. However, it’s essential to rule out other sources of water sounds, such as from toilets, sinks, or tubs, before assuming a burst pipe.
3. High Water Bill
A surge in your water bill or water meter frequently indicates burst pipes. This is because considerable water is lost through the rupture or crack, resulting in wastage. Furthermore, as the water pressure is affected by a burst, homeowners may have to use more water than usual to attain sufficient water pressure, resulting in even higher bills.
4. Discoloured Water
If the colour of your water changes, it could be a sign of a burst pipe. However, unusual colours can also result from other causes. For instance, brownish water can result from high levels of manganese and may not necessarily indicate a burst pipe.
On the other hand, reddish water often indicates rust in the pipes, which can lead to a burst.
5. Large Puddles
If you notice a considerable increase in the size of a water puddle every time you turn on the taps, the pipe has probably burst. In contrast, small droplets are more indicative of a water leak. A damaged pipe leads to water accumulation beneath the pipes and can penetrate through the walls.
For instance, if a burst pipe is under the basin, the region directly beneath it will collect the most water. But, if the pipe bursts, the floor surrounding the bathtub and toilet will also have puddles. In the case of a leak, the water is more likely to remain beneath the basin.
6. Low Water Pressure
When a pipe bursts, water escapes through the rupture directly instead of reaching the faucet, significantly reducing the water pressure.
7. Water Smells
Foul odours coming from the water are also signs of a burst pipe. While there could be several reasons for a water smell, a metallic scent coupled with the other warning signs mentioned earlier often suggests a burst pipe.
8. Wall Stains
Water stains on walls and ceilings often indicate a pipe problem, although other factors may cause them. Typically, large water stains point to a burst pipe, and the location of the stain can usually identify where the pipe has burst.
9. No Hot Water
Turning on the hot water tap and only cold water coming out could indicate a burst pipe in your hot water system. In such a case, you’ll have to turn off your hot water service and take other steps to prevent water damage.
Immediate Actions To Take
Before the plumber arrives to conduct the actual repairs, homeowners can do the following to save water and prevent damage:
Turn off the water supply to avoid new water entering the system so you won’t have to deal with more water damage.
Contact a professional plumber as soon as possible to minimise the damage. The plumber will diagnose the cause, provide solutions, and fix the problem.
Clean the water away quickly to prevent excess damage. The faster you clean, the less damage you will have to deal with.
Flush toilets and turn on the faucet to drain leftover water.
Allow warm air circulation to bring frozen pipes to normal temperature and prevent further damage. Keep the doors open and turn the heating devices to circulate warm air.
Use a repair sleeve on the pipe to temporarily cover or fix the burst. It is an ideal quick fix till the plumber arrives.
Lastly, it is crucial to prioritise safety when dealing with a burst pipe. So, ensure you turn off the main power supply before attempting to handle any electrical appliances near the affected area. Wearing protective gear such as gloves and boots can also help prevent injuries while cleaning the water.
How To Find A Burst Pipe And Fix It
Locating the burst pipe can be challenging, especially if hidden behind a wall or underground. To find the pipe, look for signs of water damage like water stains or mould growth. A moisture meter or thermal camera can also help pinpoint the leak’s exact location. However, if you need more confidence locating the burst pipe, contact your local professional plumbers immediately.
Attempting to fix a burst pipe or conduct any major plumbing work can be dangerous and may cause further damage. It’s always recommended to call a licensed plumber who has the proper training and equipment to repair the pipe safely and effectively.
But if you want to attempt to fix the burst pipe yourself, it’s important to proceed with caution and wear protective gear. Depending on the severity of the damage, repairing the pipe may require cutting out the damaged section and replacing it with a new one.
Alternatively, a pipe clamp can be used as a temporary fix until a professional can make a permanent repair.
Preventing Future Burst Pipes
Various factors, such as freezing temperatures, corrosion, water pressure, and the age of the pipes, can cause burst pipes. In cold temperatures, the water inside the pipes can freeze and expand, causing the pipes to crack or burst.
Corrosion, another common cause of a burst water pipe, occurs when the pipes deteriorate over time due to chemical reactions. High water flow or sudden changes in pressure can also cause a burst water pipe.
To prevent burst pipes, it’s important to insulate pipes in colder areas, such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Regular maintenance checks by a licensed plumber can identify potential issues and prevent them from becoming major problems.
Overall, it’s crucial to be proactive in maintaining the pipes to prevent burst pipes, as waiting for an emergency can lead to costly repairs and water damage.