My Water Pipe Burst! Who Should I Call First?

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 25, 2024

A broken water pipe is every homeowner’s worst nightmare, and for a good reason:

A burst pipe can wreak havoc, causing extensive damage to your floors, ceiling, walls, and subfloors. 

If your water pipe burst, knowing who to call is essential.

In this post, we’ll walk you through some of the reasons pipes burst, what to do when they do burst, who to contact, and how to mitigate water damage in your home before help arrives. 

Let’s start now.

Why do Pipes Burst?

corroded burst water pipe in wall

Water pipes burst for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of the most common:

1. Corrosion

Corrosion is the natural enemy of older pipes. 

Pipes made of steel (standard in homes built before 1970) require regular maintenance and cleaning to prevent corrosion and subsequent issues.

2. Tree Roots

If you live in a wooded area, you’ll have to keep tree roots away from your home’s pipes, as they can constrict and rupture water lines. 

This can be easier said than done, as roots tend to grow in the direction of water. 

Even a small leak in your underground pipes can become a magnet for nearby tree roots.

3. Pipe Collapse

In some cases, pipes collapse due to environmental changes. 

If there’s construction going on near your home, for example, the weight of heavy equipment can cause the soil to shift, putting increased pressure on your pipes. 

4. Freezing

Finally, freezing can be a significant issue for pipes. Frozen pipes are some of the most common causes of property damage in areas with cold winter weather. 

When frozen pipes burst and create flooding, they wrack up an average of $5,000 or more in property damage, according to Consumer Reports

Regardless of what the cause of your burst pipe may be, it’s essential to know how to limit the damage that can occur afterward.

Who To Call First After a Pipe Bursts in Your Home

calling for help after burst pipe

If you have a burst pipe in your home, get in touch with these people right away:

1. An Emergency Plumber

Many licensed plumbers offer 24/7 emergency services. Call your plumbing pro, and explain the situation. 

Be ready to describe what you think has happened. Let him or her know that you’re dealing with a plumbing emergency.

The plumber may not be available as quickly as you hope. In this case, he or she should put you in touch with another plumbing professional who can take care of the pipe burst immediately.

2. Your Association Manager

If you live in a building that has a Community Association Manager, your first call should be to their 24-hour emergency hotline. 

As a general rule, community management companies have an established emergency response protocol. 

3. Your Building Maintenance Manager

If you rent or own a condo, the building likely has a manager or concierge. 

These managers need to know about your burst pipe since flooding can be particularly dangerous and damaging in high-rise buildings where water can reach multiple floors

Additionally, the manager can help you respond to the leak and limit the damage caused by uncontrolled flooding. 

4. The Fire Department

If you can’t locate the shut-off valve or reach any of the resources mentioned above, contact your local fire department. 

They’ll come in, turn off your water, and control the flooding in your home, apartment, or condominium.

5. Your Insurance Company

Most homeowners insurance policies cover water damage caused by burst pipes. 

However, they don’t usually cover the cost of having the pipes repaired. Call your insurance agent, and describe the damages to your home. 

Make it clear that you’ve called a plumber and you’ll be calling a restoration company next. 

Ask your agent to schedule an adjuster’s inspection right away. If you rent your home and have renters insurance, follow the same steps.

6. A Reputable Water Damage Restoration Company 

One of the most important calls you can make is to a water damage restoration company that can repair the damage

Water damage restoration companies respond to burst pipes 24/7 and will work with your insurance company to help you get an insurance payout to cover the disaster.

Before Help Arrives, Do These 7 Things

If you have flooding in your home, follow these tips to prepare the area for the restoration team:

1. Turn Off the Electricity

A burst water pipe can quickly turn a room into an electrical hazard. 

Turn off the breaker to the affected areas, but only if you can access the circuit box without standing in water.

If you don’t feel safe with this first step, call an electrician. Don’t take any chances.

2. Turn Off the Water

To prevent additional flooding, turn off the water at its source: the shut-off valve. 

You can typically find this value near your hot water tank. Turn the valve off using the red handle as soon as you notice the first sign of flooding.

Until you have a plumber or remediation company who knows how to fix a burst pipe and can identify the source of the leak, leave the water off. 

This prevents your existing leak from getting bigger. 

3. Drain Your Faucets

Starting with the cold taps, drain the faucets throughout your home. 

Not only does this reduce the likelihood of additional flooding in your kitchen or bathroom, but it reduces the pressure in your pipes. 

To be extra safe, flush your toilet several times, as well.

4. Mop What You Can

If water in the flooded area measures less than an inch deep, you should be able to mop it up. This helps contain the spread of secondary water damages.

Give wet carpeting a once-over with a dry vac, but don’t try to remove standing water from carpets. 

Let your restoration professionals take care of soaked flooring. Their technicians can tell you whether water-damaged carpets can be salvaged and cleaned.

5. Start the Drying Process 

If the weather isn’t too humid, jump-start the drying process by opening windows in the affected areas. 

Position fans so that they generate strong crosscurrents of fresh air through each room, and let them run constantly. 

A dehumidifier can reduce interior humidity. This is especially helpful if the pipe burst soaked walls and ceilings.

6. Document the Damage

Before the remediation company arrives, take photos of the damaged areas. Capture as much detail as you can. These photos will help streamline the process of filing an insurance claim. 

7. Don’t Give Up

Don’t give up on items that seem to be a total loss. 

Restoration professionals can often save a wide range of contents. For example, they may be able to clean water-damaged soft goods, personal belongings and even electronics.

You shouldn’t throw anything away before it’s been inspected by the restorations teams. You also want to leave things in place so that your insurance adjuster can see the full extent of your losses.

Dealing with a Burst Pipe in Chicago, IL? We Can Help

burst pipe water damage chicago team

Fixing a burst water pipe can be a big job. After your plumber has repaired the damage to your water pipe, let the team at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba provide the water damage restoration services you need. 

Licensed, experienced, and trusted by our clients, we’re here to help you clean up the big messes and get life back to normal. 

If you are experiencing a burst pipe disaster, call our restoration team for immediate help: 773-647-1985