What to Do if a Pipe Bursts
It’s cold in Alberta and unfortunately, despite our best efforts, sometimes the worst happens and a pipe freezes and bursts. A quick response can minimize damage and prevent additional problems like mould.
Here are nine steps to take for a burst pipe:
- If water is running, turn off the water.
- Be careful as electricity and water do not mix – you may need to shut off the power.
- Call your insurance company and start a claim.
- Document the damage.
- If safe to do so, remove what you can from the water and dry it off.
- If safe to do so, start removing the water.
- If safe to do so, start drying out your home.
- If something cannot be dried quickly, remove and discard to prevent mould (as directed by your insurance company, professional plumber or restoration expert).
- Keep receipts for cleanup costs.
We’ll discuss each step in more detail below as well as answer some frequently asked questions.
Turn Off the Water
Turning off the water is the first step to preventing more damage. The less water you must clean up, the better!
It’s important to know where your main water shut off valve is so that you’re prepared to do this when you need to. If you live in a condo, your condo may have its own water shutoff valve or you may need to contact your condo management.
Be Careful with Electricity
Do not touch electrical wires, appliances or devices as you can get electrocuted. You may want to turn off the power to your home if there is a significant amount of water for safety reasons until professional help arrives.
Call Your Insurance Company
It’s important to call your insurance company early for a few reasons:
- Find out if you’re covered by your home insurance.
- Start your claim right away.
- Get a professional plumber or restoration company out as soon as possible.
- Get instructions from your insurer on what to do next.
You’ll be expected to start mitigating the damage if it is safe to do so.
In some cases, there may not be an immediate response by your insurance company’s adjuster to set everything up for you. In this case, you should start the process yourself by calling a plumber and/or restoration company.
Document the Damage
Documentation is important for your insurance claim. You want evidence of what was damaged as well as the extent of the damage.
All you will need to document the damage is to take a few photos and/or video footage. You will also need to make an inventory list of damaged property (this can come after you’ve started cleanup).
If safe to do so, you should remove any property that you can. This helps minimize damage and salvage items that didn’t get too wet. It also helps prevent other items from getting damaged by the water or humidity.
Remove the Water
Likely, your insurance company has a professional on the way, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get started with removing the water. Depending on the amount of water and where the burst occurred you can:
- Use a wet-dry vacuum (don’t forget to take out the dry air filter);
- Direct water towards a drain; or,
- Use a bucket and mop or towels.
Dry Out Your Home
Once the water is removed, the next step will be to dry out your home. This will generally be done by the restoration company and includes:
- Heating and cooling cycles on your home’s HVAC system
If there was only minor damage or you’re waiting on the restoration company to arrive, you can use any dehumidifiers or fans you have in your home to get started.
Remove and Discard Items
If a surface cannot be dried quickly, it will likely need to be removed and discarded to prevent mould. Commonly, this includes:
- Certain pieces of furniture
How much water there was and how long the property was saturated will determine if it needs to be discarded.
Generally, this will be taken care of by the restoration company.
Keep Receipts for Cleanup Costs
Ensure you keep all receipts related to the cleanup costs. This includes:
- Wet/dry vacuum rentals
- Cleaning supplies
- Waste disposal
Are Burst Pipes Covered by Home Insurance?
Yes, home insurance generally covers damaged caused by a burst pipe. However, the exception is if you’ve left the home unattended for more than 48 – 72 hours. Your insurance company may not cover you if you’ve failed to take appropriate measures to protect your home while you’re away, such as having a trusted adult check on the home daily or turning off your water. If you’re not sure what’s required of you, you should contact your broker or insurance company.