When the water pipes burst for any reason in your home, or any structure with water service, water will spew out.  And the water will keep running until the break is discovered and the water turned off.  In the course of that you could, probably will, experience a lot of water damage.  You will have experienced a flood.  Why would burst water pipes occur?

Frozen Pipes and Malfunctioning Appliances

The most likely cause of burst water pipes is freezing of the pipes.  Sometimes a pipe might be located close to an exterior wall without proper insulation, more often though it is because the heating system fails causing freezing in the water pipes.

If you live in your house, or use your structure year ’round on a daily basis that is unlikely to occur.  Burst water pipes happen most often when the owner is absent for a period of time (days or longer) and the water is not turned off at the main source.


Was Do You Mean the Main Source?

There is a main switch in every home at which you can stop the flow of water into the home.  Why would you want to do that?  Well, if your water pipes burst for some reason and you are not at home you’ll have a flood in your house, lots of damage, and a costly cleanup.

When you turned the water off at the main source before you leave, then the only water that continues into the home is what remains in the water pipes after shut off.

Malfunctioning appliances are the same.  If the dishwasher malfunctions and continues to run water and your water is turned off at the source, the only water that continues into the appliance or the house is what remains in the pipes.



Let Me Tell You A Burst Pipe Horror Story

When Should I Do This?

I’m not talking about leaving for a few hours or a day, but if you are leaving for more than a day or two, especially in climates where the temps get to freezing the best thing is to turn the water off at the source.

One other observation in regard to frozen pipes–it could be pipes too close to the exterior wall and without proper insulation, it could be that the furnace malfunctioned, and there is one other important factor…

The Propane Fuel Tank Ran Out

…your propane tank ran out of fuel, causing the furnace to quit.

In the video that case of frozen pipes was caused by the furnace quitting, and it quit because the propane tank was empty.

If you are not a resident owner, able to check the level of fuel in the tank on a regular basis, then you should arrange with the propane company for auto-fill.  Auto-fill means the propane truck will stop at your property on a periodic basis to check the tank and when needed add fuel.



You’ve Got To Have a Clear Path

Propane tanks are generally located a couple of hundred feet from the house.  If the driver does not have clear access to hook his hose to the tank, your tank won’t get filled.

So, be sure there is a clear path for the driver to reach your tank.


How to Turn the Water Off at the Main Source

There are step by step directions below, or if you are more of a by-sight person there is a video too.

1.  Locate your main water shut off valve.

• You may find the valve in the basement or crawl space below your house, on a wall near the front.

• If your home is on a slab, the valve may be near your water heater or in the garage.

• If you don’t find the supply valve in any of those spots, look for a water pipe entering your house and attempt to follow it.

• Alternatively, find the shutoff valve outside, near the street in front of your home, in a covered water meter box buried in the ground.

• If all else fails, call Mr. Rooter to help you locate the valve.

2.  If you found the water shut off valve inside your house, turn it off.

• Just turn the valve to the right (clockwise) as far as it goes, with a wrench.

3.  If you located the water meter box near the street, you can shut off the water supply from there instead.

• The valve closest to your house is the one you want.

• To turn off the water supply from here, you’ll need a meter key. You can purchase one at your local hardware store. A meter key is a T-shaped metal object.

• You could also use a crescent wrench and a screwdriver instead of a meter key for this task.

• Turn the meter valve all the way to the right (clockwise) with the wrench or meter key. Your home’s water supply should now be off.

4.  Release pressure from your pipes.

• Turn on a hot and a cold tap until they run dry.


Burst Water Pipes - How and Now What
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Burst Water Pipes - How and Now What
Burst water pipes in a home, condo, or any structure will cause a lot of damage. Learn why this might happen and how to avoid the damage.
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Lisa Bieri & Associates at Door County Realty Inc.
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