Burst Pipe in the Bathroom? Here’s What to do Right Now

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: April 1, 2024

A burst pipe in the bathroom is an emergency, and you must act quickly to fix it.

Fortunately, we’re here to help.

At ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, we have over 85 years of experience helping Chicago-area customers deal with burst pipes and the damage they cause. We’ve compiled that knowledge into this comprehensive guide. 

Before You Get Started

  • Turn off the water. Turning off the water in your household before addressing a burst pipe in the bathroom is crucial to prevent further water damage, which can lead to costly repairs and the potential growth of mold and mildew, which can pose health risks.
  • Gather your equipment. Before you get to work in the bathroom, you’ll need to gather equipment like safety glasses and gloves, an adjustable wrench, a pipe cutter, and a pipe fitting brush.
  • Decide if it’s a DIY job or you should hire a pro. To determine whether a burst pipe is a DIY repair job or requires professional assistance, first assess the location and severity of the damage. If the pipe is easily accessible and the damage appears minor (such as a small crack), you might attempt a temporary fix using a pipe repair kit. However, if the pipe is in a hard-to-reach area or the damage seems extensive, it’s safer to call a professional to ensure a thorough and lasting repair.

6 Steps To Deal With A Burst Pipe In The Bathroom

bathroom water damage tech

1. Turn Off The Water Main

First things first, prevent further leaks by turning off the water main. 

How to do this:

  • Locate the Valve: The water main shutoff valve is usually found near the perimeter of your home. Look in the basement, crawl space, or along an exterior wall. In warmer climates, it might be outside, buried in the ground near the street.
  • Identify Valve Type: Most valves are either ball valves (lever-type) or gate valves (wheel-type). Familiarize yourself with the type you have to ensure you know how to turn it properly.
  • Turn Off the Valve: For a ball valve, turn the lever a quarter turn so it’s perpendicular to the pipe. For a gate valve, turn the wheel clockwise until it’s firmly closed.

2. Drain The Faucets

To prevent the water pipe from continuing to leak, drain all your household’s faucets – starting with the cold taps. This will reduce the likelihood of leftover water freezing in your pipes and making the problem worse. 

How to do this:

  • Open the Highest Faucet: Start by opening the faucet at the highest point in the home, such as an upstairs bathroom. This allows air to enter the pipes and facilitates the draining process.
  • Drain Remaining Faucets: Open all remaining faucets starting from the top floor and moving to the lowest level, including the basement, if applicable. Remember outdoor spigots and hose bibs. Flush toilets to fully drain the pipes. Close the faucets once the water stops flowing.
  • Shut off the Boiler and Taps: Before working on the pipe, shut off your home’s water boiler and drain the hot taps. 

3. Open The Cabinet Doors

When a pipe bursts under the bathroom sink, warmth is critical to the remediation process. Even though the bathroom is in your heated home, a closed cabinet door can prevent the flow of warm air. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Open the Cabinet Doors: This allows warm air from the house to circulate. 
  • Bring in Backup: To encourage pipes to thaw, use a hairdryer, set it to low, and thaw frozen pipes gradually. 
  • Add a Fan: If airflow is an issue, place standing fans throughout the area to move the warm area around. 

4. Identify The Source Of The Leak

Next, you’ll need to identify the source of the leak to repair it. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Inspect for Visible Signs: Begin by visually examining accessible pipes for frost accumulation or any visible cracks. Frosty areas or ice formation outside a pipe are strong indicators of where the frozen blockage and potential leak source might be located.
  • Listen for Subtle Sounds: Turn off any running water and listen closely for the sound of trickling or dripping water within the walls or under the flooring. This auditory clue can lead you directly to the source of the leak.
  • Feel for Temperature Differences: Carefully feel along the pipes for significant temperature variations. Immediately following the blockage, the section may be significantly colder due to the lack of flowing water, helping pinpoint the frozen area and potential source of any leaks.

Pro Tip: If the leak is apparent, you may be able to fix it on your own. If not, we recommend hiring a professional team to help instead.

If the pipe has ruptured or requires a complicated replacement, the team will bring in a certified plumber to assist in the repair. 

5. Clean Up The Water

If there’s water on your floors or under your cabinets after a water leak, sop up the mess before the restoration team arrives. This helps prevent mold and mildew and gives the restoration team a clean workspace.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Use Absorbent Materials: Use towels or mops to absorb as much water as possible, focusing on preventing the spread of moisture to unaffected areas.
  • Use a Dehumidifier and Fans: After mopping up the initial spill, place a dehumidifier and fans around the affected area to accelerate the drying process. This helps reduce humidity levels, further preventing mold growth.
  • Inspect and Dry Cabinets: If water has seeped under your cabinets, it’s crucial to empty them and check for dampness. Use a towel to dry the interior, and consider using a portable fan to circulate air in tight spaces, ensuring all moisture is thoroughly eliminated.

6. Reconstruct And Restore The Space

Next, the team will use specialized techniques to dry out damaged areas and start restoring and reconstructing your property (if necessary).

Here’s how:

  • Drying and Dehumidifying: After the initial drying phase, the team employs air movers and dehumidifiers to dry out walls, floors, and any other structures soaked by the water. This step is crucial to avoid the warping of materials and the development of mold.
  • Sanitizing and Restoration: The final step involves cleaning and sanitizing all affected areas and belongings to eliminate any health risks. The team then focuses on repairing or replacing damaged structures and materials, restoring the space to its pre-damage condition.
  • Rebuilding and Restoration: Most teams (like ours) are made up of licensed contractors who can take the necessary steps to rebuild your property and restore it to its original condition. 

How To Prevent Burst Pipes

how to prevent burst pipe

Burst pipes in the bathroom can cause significant damage to your home, leading to costly repairs. 

Fortunately, you can prevent burst pipes by recognizing (and avoiding) these key causes:

Cause: Freezing Temperatures

How to Prevent It: Insulate your pipes. Pipes in areas prone to freezing temperatures should be wrapped with pipe insulation. This helps keep the water temperature in the pipes above freezing, preventing the pipes from bursting.

Cause: Clogged Pipes

How to Prevent It: Regular maintenance and cleaning. To prevent clogging, regularly clean the drains and pipes in your bathroom. 

Avoid flushing anything down the toilet that could cause blockages, and consider using drain guards to catch hair and other debris.

Cause: High Water Pressure

How to Prevent It: Install a water pressure regulator. 

High water pressure can strain the pipes, leading to bursts. Installing a water pressure regulator can help maintain the pressure at a safe level.

Cause: Corrosion

How to Prevent It: Regularly inspect your pipes for signs of corrosion, especially if you live in an older home with metal pipes. 

If you notice any signs of deterioration, consider replacing them with corrosion-resistant materials, such as copper or PVC.

Cause: Rapid Temperature Changes

How to Prevent It: Avoid exposing your bathroom pipes to rapid temperature changes. 

For example, rather than using hot water to thaw frozen pipes in frigid weather, gradually warm them with a hairdryer starting from the faucet end and moving towards the coldest section.

By understanding the common causes of burst pipes and taking proactive steps to prevent them, you can protect your bathroom and your home from unwanted water damage. 

Regular maintenance and attention to changes in your plumbing system are key to keeping everything running smoothly.

Dealing With A Burst Pipe In Your Chicago Home? We’re Here To Help!

burst pipe bathroom

If you have a burst pipe in the bathroom in Chicago, IL or the suburbs, our team is here for you.

Offering 85 years of combined restoration experience and rapid response time (guaranteed in under 90 minutes), our team will manage your claims and help you get your life and your household back to normal.

Give us a call right now for 24-hour emergency help with bathroom burst pipe water damage: 773-647-1985

How do you know if you have a burst pipe?

Identifying a burst pipe in your home can manifest in a variety of ways. Here are the most common signs: Unusual noises in the plumbing: Gurgling or banging sounds emanating from the walls could indicate water trying to pass through a rupture; Water pressure changes: A sudden drop in water pressure when using bathroom fixtures might indicate a significant leak caused by a burst pipe; Unexpected water bills: An unexplained increase in your water bill can be a telltale sign of a substantial leak, possibly from a burst pipe;
Visible water damage: Stains, discoloration, or peeling paint on the walls or ceiling are clear indicators of water damage from leaks; Mold and mildew presence: Excessive moisture from a burst pipe creates a conducive environment for mold and mildew growth, often detectable by a musty odor; Pooling water: Water accumulating on the floor without an obvious source can directly indicate a burst pipe within the bathroom;
Water discoloration: Pipes rusting from the inside out can sometimes burst, leading to discolored water due to the sediments present.

What causes a pipe to burst in the bathroom?

The most common cause is when leftover water freezes in the pipes.

Does homeowners insurance cover burst pipes in the bathroom?

It depends on your policy. In most cases, Homeowners insurance won’t cover water damage from floods, sewage backup, or slow leaks, but will cover you in the event of a burst pipe.

When should I be worried about a burst pipe?

You should be worried about a burst pipe as soon as you think you have one. A burst pipe can lead to significant water damage, mold growth, and structural issues if not addressed promptly. With this in mind, shut off your main water supply and contact a professional plumber as soon as you suspect a burst pipe to mitigate damages and ensure proper repair.