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5 Signs You Might Have a Busted Water Pipe

January 27, 2023


As a homeowner - and even as a renter - dealing with the damage from a burst water pipe is distressing. It can be a costly and time-consuming headache to repair water damage caused by burst pipes. So, your best bet at avoiding a burst water pipe is to know what to look for and how to prevent burst pipes from happening in the first place. 

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5 Signs You Might Have a Busted Water Pipe 

Catch an early water leak and prevent a busted pipe by learning the warning signs.

  1. An unexplained hike in your water bill
  2. Water puddling underneath sinks and cabinets
  3. Discoloration of your water, especially brown or rust-tinted
  4. Water with a strange or foul-smelling odor
  5. Unexplained changes in water pressure

Catching a leak before a pipe bursts can save you a ton of money plus prevent mold, compromised structural integrity, and damage to your clothes and other possessions. Once you spot the warning signs, act quick to mitigate the potential risks and damage of a burst pipe. 


Water pipe with valve.


Step by Step: What to Do When You Have a Busted Water Pipe?


It can be intimidating and frustrating to know what to do when water pipes burst. Coming home to a house flooded from a burst pipe is never a good time. Luckily, there are a few relatively easy steps recommended by professionals.

Going through these specific steps may help decrease potential damage and save you from more costly repairs down the road. Here's what to do if a pipe bursts:


Turn Off the Water

Turning off the water is the first and most important step in repairing burst pipes. Generally speaking, burst pipes occur from weak spots in the water pipes. These weak spots can be caused by a variety of factors, including corrosion or cracks. Corrosion can be the result of your water's pH levels, minerals, or rust.

Frost loading - the buildup of pressure inside a pipe from the increased volume of frozen water - can also cause a pipe to burst. Whatever the cause, locating and utilizing the water shutoff valve is the first step before moving forward. This ensures your safety and minimizes damage.

Drain the Faucets

Turning off the water valve should decrease the pressure in the pipes. From there, drain the remaining water from the faucets in your house: simply turn on all of the faucets, starting with the cold ones. Make sure to include the tub, shower, outdoor spigots, and all sinks.

The toilet should also be flushed until no water remains inside the bowl and the tank stops filling. After this is done, keep the faucets open to prevent any pressure from accumulating and creating a vacuum. Once the water has drained, you can begin searching for the problem.

Locate the Issue

Finding the location of the burst pipe may feel overwhelming, especially if the busted pipe is under the house. Look for signs of water damage such as discoloration, standing water, mold, foul smells or odors, and watermarks.

Remember to be cautious and take steps to protect yourself. Never walk under a bulging ceiling and ensure that any electricity is powered off if you suspect that water has leaked close to it, especially if there is standing water near any outlets. Once you've located the leak or burst pipe, you're ready to move on to the real work.

 Document Damage

It's important to fully document the burst pipe and the location of the damage. This helps professionals understand what they're dealing with. It can also assist an adjuster if you plan to make a claim to your insurance company. In some cases, having evidence of the destruction caused by a burst or busted pipe will help you get insurance coverage for the damage.

Take as many detailed pictures or videos as possible to best illustrate the extent of the damage. Be sure to document watermarks, mold, discoloration, or structural damage like bulges and rot. After you've recorded what you can, and depending on the damage, you may want to call in an expert.

 Call Professionals

It’s true you can sometimes patch a leak by yourself, but that’s generally a temporary fix. It’s best to have an expert repair a burst or busted pipe. The cost of fixing water damage can accumulate pretty fast and burst pipes pose a safety risk for yourself and others. Better to be safe than sorry! A professional plumber will be able to assess the damage from any burst pipes, look for problems you may have missed, give an accurate estimate, and work to repair or replace the pipes. In some cases, an electrician may be necessary if your electrical system has suffered any damage due to the busted pipes.

These services often require an appointment, but many plumbers and electricians offer emergency services with workers available around the clock at after-hours rates. When hiring a professional, be sure to consult at their reviews and ask about their insurance coverage in case any injuries occur while they work on your property.

While hiring professionals may seem expensive, leaving a burst pipe will only accumulate more damage eventually. Having the peace of mind that your plumbing has been repaired by a professional is well worth the money.

Black and white photo of dripping faucet




After the repairs, the last things to do are properly cleaned and disinfect the areas. Standing water and damp conditions can lead to mold growth, which can cause sickness, especially in sensitive populations with compromised immune systems, the very young, or the elderly. Thoroughly dry wet areas and belongings as soon as possible.

Instead of using your A/C system, open windows in the area and use fans to help dry furniture or carpeting. It’s best not to let  mold invade your A/C system and cause further issues. If anything has been left in damp or wet conditions for over 72 hours, it might be best to throw it away due to the chances that mold has spread.

Any removable fabrics that have come into contact with standing or dirty water should be washed with soap, rinsed thoroughly, and dried. Wipe down non-porous items with antimicrobial spray. Lastly, once all personal items have been washed or thrown away, mop and wipe down floors and drywall.


Two women cleaning the floor


Prevent Further Damage


Keep pipes insulated, regulating your thermostat at 65 degrees or higher, and letting your faucet drip can help keep your pipes from freezing or experiencing frost loading. Look for early warning signs of water leaks like puddles, watermarks, or bulges in ceilings or drywall. Setting a reminder in your calendar to seasonally perform this maintenance will help you catch cracks in the pipes before they burst.

You don’t have to fix burst pipes alone! Contact our Plumbing Experts to get personalized advice.