What to do if a pipe bursts inside your home. My kitchen pipes burst in early 2014. I am all to familiar with what needs to happen A.S.A.P. to ensure you don’t lose money and time! I sincerely hope that if you are reading this post it is just to receive some insight in case this ever happens to you.
The first thing about any emergent situation is to try to control the factors that you can. Here is a list of things I wish I knew before my kitchen flooded.
What to do if a pipe bursts
- TRY TO REMAIN CALM: This one is only slightly laughable. Trying to remain calm seems super silly but it can prove to be the only thing that can make or break a situation. When my house flooded I was awoken by my husband screaming my name. I proceeded to run to him to find my whole kitchen and part of my dining room covered in water. I then proceeded to run around in a circles, partly out of confusion and the rest from shock.
- TURN OFF THE WATER: When you move into any residence you need to know how to shut off the water. Whether it be a home, condo, apartment or trailer you must know where the water shut off and electrical main is. The main shut off for our house is out on the street but we have a secondary shut off just inside the basement door. The thing about our house is, that to get to the basement you have to go through the garage…which was covered in a thick layer of ice from the water flowing in from the kitchen. I slipped all the way down the stairs.
- DRAIN THE WATER FROM THE SYSTEM: Turn ON all cold water taps in the house including flushing all the toilets. This will get most of the water still in the pipe system out and hopefully stop or slow the leak significantly.
- IF YOU HAVE GAS HEATING: Turn off your heating system and then drain all the hot water from the taps.
- CHECK FOR POSSIBLE ELECTRICAL/WATER INTERACTION: Sounds crazy scary to think that you may get electrocuted but it can happen. Try to unplug appliances and even turn the power off at the main box if you think that there could be ANY compromised areas. After turning my main water off I heard the sound of a water fall coming from the laundry room. I opened the door to find waters falling out of the ceiling. My first instinct was to unplug the washer and dryer. SO STUPID. Had they been compromised I would have been electrocuted while completely covered in water. Dummy to say the least.
- CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY: Please tell me that no matter what kind of dwelling you live in you have insurance. I’m talking to you renters! You are going to want to call either your insurance agent or the claims department. I have Allstate who has a 24 hour claims department. Before I called them I called my dad (who just so happens to be my insurance agent). He advised me document everything about he incident so I could give the claims department the most accurate information. It would also leave me with a detailed schedule of events for my own future reference. The claims department will ask you what you think happened, what was damaged, if anyone was hurt along with a whole host of other things. Remember to keep calm and have paper with a pen/pencil handy to write down any pertinent information they will give you.
- CALL A DISASTER RESTORATION COMPANY: PLEASE HEED MY WARNING! Not all restoration companies are created equal. I know that if you are actively dealing with an emergent situation and you are eager to have help. Be sure to look on Yelp and Google reviews to make an educated decision. I called the first number I found when I googled disaster clean up. It was a nightmare dealing with the company I had chosen. Had I spent 10 minutes reading the reviews it would have saved me a lot of future headaches! Again I will repeat myself, STAY CALM and do your research.
- CALL A PLUMBER: Again as I stated in my last point. Reasearch, research, research. I was smart enough to yelp a good plumber and found the best plumbers in town. They showed up during one of the worst storms we’ve had in Portland and helped get everything squared away. Gems!
- MAKE A WRITTEN AND PHOTO LIST: Get your camera out and start documenting everything and I mean everything! All of the possessions that were affected, all the area and surrounding areas that were affected. Doing this one thing can save you so much time and money. Guess what? The insurance company doesn’t want to you pay a ton of money. They will send adjusters to tell you that there’s no way the drywall in your kitchen could have been effected by the flood…that was in the kitchen. I think you catch my drift. Write down and take pictures of everything that you think was damaged. Make a list of what you paid for it brand new with the purchase date or approximate date.
- BE PREPARED FOR STUPIDITY: I hate to even write this down, but because I am a female and most repair men, plumbers, electricians and contractors are male they think I have no clue about “manly” things like maintaining my house. If you’re a female be prepared to put your foot down with everyone. I took time off work 3 times and was stood up by people who assured me they would be to my house by a certain time. Guess what, I told the insurance and they reimbursed me for lost wages. The “carpenter” decided that he wasn’t going to put trim back in my closets hoping I wouldn’t notice. The painters decided to match the new base boards to the wood flooring that had been torn out because of the flood. I could go on forever. The point I’m trying to make is that this is your house! Just because you had one disaster doesn’t mean you have to put up with another one by allowing people to do a half-assed job!
- NEXT TIME INSULATE: There’s not going to be a next time right? Make sure that after they tear everything out and the pipes are exposed that they are all properly insulated. Seems like a no-brainer but I thought it was important to say.
- BUY A WATER SENSOR: I wish I would have known about the need for these before the flood. I have a water sensor in every bathroom, in the kitchen and in the laundry room. They are relatively cheap and will give you a little piece of mind that you will have more time to react and prevent a pipe bursts in the future.
I truly hope that if you just read through this post it was purely for your education and not out of immediate necessity. Please get in touch with me if you need any advice on what to do in case of a flood or fire as I have unfortunately been through both.