Winter weather is here, and as the temperature drops, your pipes can freeze. What do you do when they freeze or burst? Here are five actions to take after your pipes freeze or burst:
1. Turn off the main water valve
If you notice your pipes are frozen, but have not burst, the first step is to immediately turn off the main water valve. This prevents your home from flooding if your pipes burst. Turn the heat up in the room with the frozen pipe. Do not apply heat directly to the pipe. If you have a space heater, turn it on and place it within a few feet of the frozen pipe. Leave the faucet in the "on" position and have someone else slowly turn the main water valve back on.
2. Locate the stopcock
If a pipe bursts, locate the stopcock. This is an emergency shutoff valve. This valve is usually located under the kitchen sink or in the basement. Once you've turned off this valve, shut off the main water valve.
3. Protect your possessions and yourself
After shutting off the main water supply, set a bucket or pan under the burst pipe to collect most of the water. Next, locate your circuit breaker and shut off your electricity. This will prevent you or your loved ones from being electrocuted if the water reaches an outlet or electrical cable. This will also prevent a house fire if the water touches an exposed wire inside your walls. After you've turned off the power, move as many of your possessions out of the room as possible.
4. Clean up
The biggest concern once water floods into your home is mold and mildew. Mold grows very quickly so you must remove the water and dry your home as soon as possible. Use a mop and bucket to get most of the water off your floor and walls. Remove rugs and place them in the sun or in a warm room to dry. Some cleaners offer special services such as oriental rug cleaning for delicate pieces. You will need to hire a water damage restoration cleaning service if the pipe burst in a room with carpet since the padding will not dry before mildew sets in.
5. Call your insurance company
Repair and cleaning services are very expensive. Take pictures of the damage and call your home insurance company. Your homeowner's insurance may cover damage from burst or frozen pipes. Keep all invoices and estimates for plumbing and water damage restoration. An insurance agent can also recommend reliable, trustworthy plumbers and cleaning companies.
When your pipes burst, it's important to take action right away to minimize damage.