Plumbing Emergency: “What Do I Do if a Pipe Bursts in My House?”

What Do I Do If A Pipe Bursts In My House

A burst pipe in a home can create a soggy mess, but luckily, this plumbing problem can be cleared quickly with the right action plan. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, your water pipes can ice up after a freeze and create a block. Not tending to those blockages can lead to a pressurized situation, resulting in a pipe bursting.

Other times, aging pipes succumb to corrosion and fail. No matter the case, it’s important to know how to act to minimize the damage caused by burst pipes.

If a pipe bursts in your house, the very first thing you must do is turn off the main water supply. By shutting down the water supply to your home, you can stop the flooding and prevent further damage from spreading. These unfortunate mishaps happen sometimes and can cause significant damage, so it’s vital to act quickly if you find yourself in this situation.

Whenever you move into a new home, one of the first things you should do is locate the main water supply in case of an emergency. In this article, we’ll explain what to do if you find yourself asking, “What do I do if a pipe bursts?” to keep the damage contained, and we’ll tell you how to move forward.

  • Immediately turn off the water
  • Contact a plumber to repair the pipe
  • Remove the water to avoid mold and mildew
  • Take stock of the overall damage
  • Get in touch with your insurance provider
  • Set up an emergency plan

Immediately turn off the water

A burst water pipe is one of the most common plumbing issues homeowners face. Pipes can burst without warning, leading to a significant repair requiring a qualified plumber’s expertise to address the leak. Knowing where to turn off your water supply to the house is a must so that you know exactly where to go in the event of a burst pipe.

Pipes usually burst when exposed to extremely low temperatures for an extended period of time. If you don’t heat your home or let your faucets drip when temperatures are well below freezing for more than one to three days, you could experience a burst pipe. This is especially true for pipes located on an exterior wall.

If you notice a pipe has burst and is starting to flood your home, immediately turn off the water supply. Then, flush your toilets and run the faucets to relieve built-up pressure and drain water from your pipes. If you believe the flooding water could reach any electrical appliances, turn off the power to your home to avoid any electrical hazards. 

There are a few reasons why a pipe may burst. We will cover the main culprits and provide solutions for preventing pipe failure in your home.


Metal pipes are susceptible to corrosion due to oxidation. Corrosion occurs when there is an imbalance in the water’s pH or rust in the pipes. Over time, water pressure builds up in the weak areas of the corroded pipe, and it bursts. Homes with well water are slightly more vulnerable to corrosion since the water supply has a higher concentration of iron.

The best way to avoid water damage from corrosive pipes is to be selective in the materials used to pipe your home. Any water pipes in the home that are made from lead, polybutylene, or galvanized steel should be replaced as soon as possible. Stick with PEX, CPVC, or copper pipes to help combat corrosion.

Clogs or movement

If there is a clog close to your drain, that shouldn’t cause too much worry. Deeper clogs, however, can cause issues if left untreated. Once the pressure around the clog builds to a breaking point, a pipe will eventually burst. When pipes experience unintentional movement from extreme water pressure or if they were accidentally moved during a repair, the movement of the pipe can lead to a burst pipe down the road.

If you suspect a clog or notice fluctuations in your water pressure, contact a local plumber to assess the situation and perform a repair if necessary to avoid a broken pipe later on.


If you’re not careful, a cold snap can freeze your pipes. If the outside temperature drops below 32 degrees, the water in your pipes can freeze. The added pressure caused by the freeze weakens the bonds in your pipes, which can result in leaks or breaks. Here are a few tips for how to avoid a frozen pipe failure.

  • Turn up the heat
    One way to help stave off frozen pipes is to turn up the heat in your home at night and during the day. This simple step not only heats your house but can also warm up your plumbing system. Even a few degrees can make a difference.
  • Drain exterior lines
    Before your home experiences a harsh cold snap, it’s a good idea to drain any exterior water lines. This helps prevent water from building up in your pipes, freezing, and causing a break. Check your hoses, pool plumbing, and even sprinkler lines.
  • Insulate your pipes
    Insulating your pipes is an effective way to protect against freezing or bursting. While it’s not completely foolproof, it does help your pipes withstand longer periods in harsh, cold weather conditions. Contact a licensed plumber for advice on the most vulnerable pipes and the most effective way to insulate them.

Useful tip: If you live in an older home, it may be a good idea to turn off the water if you plan on taking a vacation during the winter months to avoid a burst pipe while you’re away. 

Contact a plumber to repair the pipe

Once you’ve cut off your water after a pipe burst, you can assess the damage and contact a plumber to fix the problem. Burst pipes often happen in the colder months, so it’s important to act quickly and get a plumber out ASAP to address and repair the pipe so you can warm things up again.

Regular plumbing inspections are a great way to prevent pipes from bursting due to cold snaps, poor installation, or corrosion. Licensed and trained professionals know how to identify leaks, detect drainage issues, and find any other hidden issues within your plumbing system that could otherwise go unnoticed.

Remove water to avoid mold and mildew

Dealing with a flood in your home is not fun, but if you remain calm and act fast, you can minimize the damage. After repairing your pipe, you’re still not quite out of the woods. Now, you must deal with all that excess water in your home before it creates a mold or mildew problem. This step is very important and should not be delayed.

The more time that water remains in your home, the more damage it can cause. Remove any soaked rugs, furniture, and any other items from the part of your home that was flooded. Sometimes, items can be dried out and saved, but unfortunately, you may have to replace some things.

Do what you can to remove the bulk of the standing water, using towels and a mop to soak up as much as possible, then break out a wet vacuum. If you don’t own a wet/dry vacuum, you can rent one from your local hardware store. Once you’ve extracted as much water as possible, open your windows and doors to allow fresh, dry air inside to aid in the drying-out process.  

Blast the affected area with fans to help dry things out, and set up a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. Having fans and a dehumidifier working together will help speed things up. Just be sure to keep an eye on the dehumidifier and empty the reservoir once it fills up.

Another way to help speed up the drying process is to stock up on moisture-absorbing products. Most come in tubs or packets you can lay near any walls or flooring with the most water exposure.

If you experience significant water damage, you may need to contact a water mitigation company to help dry things up.

Take stock of the overall damage

Having a pipe burst in your home can create quite a fiasco. If you are currently navigating this plumbing emergency, our hearts are with you! After the dust settles, it’s important to survey your home and make a thorough list of any property damage, including your belongings.

Take photos of anything affected by the water damage caused by your burst pipe. These pictures will help you when it comes time to file an insurance claim. If you need to replace any items before an adjuster arrives, save your receipts for reference later. Hold on to your receipt from your plumbing work as well since that is another expense you had to incur with the damage to your property.

Get in touch with your insurance company

Over 20 percent of homeowners insurance claims involve water damage. Luckily, water damage from burst pipes is usually covered under your policy, so don’t delay filing a claim. The more time you put off filing a claim, the longer you wait for help to arrive, which can complicate the process.

Homeowners insurance typically covers damage caused by a burst pipe, but sometimes additional coverage is useful. Be sure to speak to your insurance agent for plans that include water backup coverage for other instances, such as failed pumps or backed-up drains. Itemized coverage is also available for especially valuable items like jewelry or collectibles in your home.  


Burst pipes can cause a lot of havoc, but you can minimize the damage with the right action plan. Know where your main water valve is, contact a plumber to execute repairs, remove excess water, take pictures of the damage, and present your report to your insurance company.

Take preventative measures to avoid any burst pipes in your home. Contact a reputable plumbing company to inspect your system regularly, and prepare your home when you know an extended cold snap is on the way. Keep your home heated to at least 55 degrees, keep warm water dripping from your faucets, and insulate any vulnerable pipes.

Ongaro & Sons — your plumbing experts

Ongaro & Sons is a family-owned business in its fourth generation of operation. We consistently deliver the highest level of service and value in our industry, ensuring stability for our valued customers. Our friendly team offers heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, and solar installation services for the North Bay area.

We are a licensed state contractor with fully insured, qualified, and professional technicians dedicated to industry-leading plumbing solutions tailored to your specific requirements and budget. We can help with all your plumbing needs, including installation, repair, remodeling, drain cleaning, and sewer maintenance.

Our 100% guarantee ensures your complete satisfaction. Contact Ongaro & Sons or call us at 707-419-3135 today if you have questions about our plumbing services and how we can best serve you.