How To Deal With a Burst Pipe in Vancouver, BC
Are you wondering what to do when a burst pipe strikes? Every Vancouver homeowner should know how to deal with a water leak. If you're a Vancouver homeowner, then you've just found one of the most valuable local guides on the internet. You should never have to wonder what to do when water pipes rupture. With our help, you never will.
You don't have to fix a broken pipe. That's what a professional plumber is for. However, there are several steps you should take any time a pipe bursts in your property. Proper preparation and rapid responses might just lead to less water damage.
Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Vancouver is here to take care of your pipe repairs, but we also want to make sure you know exactly what to do with ruptured water pipes. Plus, our team wants to help Vancouver's homeowners avoid that problem altogether with information about the different factors that affect plumbing lines and how to protect yourself against them. No one wants to deal with burst pipes, but sudden damage requires an effective response. We're here to help with every step — including research.
How to Deal With a Burst Pipe in Vancouver, BC
1. Call a Vancouver Plumber
The first thing you should do is call a licensed plumber. Pipe repairs should be handled by experienced professionals. That doesn't mean your plan ends with a phone call though. There are several important steps you take while you wait for help to arrive.
2. Turn Off Your Water
Whether a burst is big or small, liquid is going to leak everywhere. Even a tiny hole is big enough to let out thousands of litres. If that burst pipe is in one of your exterior walls, it might cause catastrophic damage to your home.
Either way, bursts create lasting damage beyond the effect that leaks have on water bills. Turning off your supply will limit water damage to your floors, walls, furniture, and other items near the burst pipe — as well as financial damage to your pocketbook.
Do You Know Where Your Shutoff Valve Is?
A home's water shutoff valve is usually located in the basement or ground-level utility room. It's important that you locate yours before emergencies happen. If you're not sure where your main supply valve is, start by looking for the lines that enter your home from the outside. Supply valves are usually located on the same side of your home as public streets, where they connect to Vancouver's public mains.
3. Drain All Your Faucets
After you've turned off the water that flows through your home, you need to begin draining the fluid that may still linger in your pipes. Start by opening your faucets to let out all cold water. This may sound odd, but you should also flush your toilets multiple times to release all of the water in your system.
Draining all that remaining fluid releases built-up pressure in your pipes and helps prevent further leaking. You should drain the water from your cold taps first. Once that has been taken care of, turn off your hot water heater. Then you'll be able to drain everything left in your hot water system.
4. Add Warmth
If your rupture was caused by freezing — which is not unusual in Vancouver — then this step is important for preventing additional damage and restoring functionality. All you need to do is open up cabinets near any frozen pipes and increase the temperature in your home. Don't try to reheat plumbing lines with a hair dryer, space heater, or other methods. Sudden temperature changes may crack your lines.
5. Clean Up
Now that your supply valve has been turned off and all taps have been drained, it's time to clean up the mess. Clean and dry everything that got wet. Time is always an important factor with plumbing accidents. The sooner you start cleanup efforts, the less additional damage you'll have and the easier it will be for your skilled plumber to assess your system.
6. Document Everything for the Insurance Company
When we say everything, we mean absolutely everything. Take pictures to document all damage, repairs, and other associated costs. Having more information for your insurance company makes it much easier for them to process your claim.
Be thorough with this step. Your insurance company could ask for proof of anything from the source of the damage to the full extent of your repairs. Take plenty of pictures and keep all your receipts. Even after an initial emergency, time is still an important factor. You'll benefit from an easier claim process if you also contact your insurance provider as soon as possible.
What Causes Burst Pipes in Vancouver, BC?
Multiple issues could result in a burst pipe. Prevention starts with education. Once you know all the possible sources of damage, you'll be able to choose the right preventative measures for your home — and every step toward better preparation is a step away from water-damaged items.
Vancouver's winters aren't always threatening to people, but they usually are to water supply pipes. Cold temperature is the enemy of uninsulated water supply lines. Even well-insulated lines could freeze if temperatures are quite cold. Once that water freezes over, it becomes blockage, and that blockage could become a burst.
When freezing occurs, ice expands and puts more pressure on the inside of your pipe. As the pressure increases, it adds tension that often results in cracks. Once cracks appear, all that trapped fluid will start shooting out along the only path it has — right into your home.
Old Rusty Pipes
Older pipes are more susceptible to leaks and bursts — especially if they're made of galvanized steel or cast iron. Many homes in Vancouver's older communities still have steel and iron plumbing. Modern PEX and copper pipes are rust-resistant; older steel and iron lines are not. As those older materials wear down, they become corroded from the inside out, leading to weakness throughout your system.
That interior corrosion is difficult to spot but there are still several warning signs you should look for. Obviously, visible rust is an issue that calls for immediate replacement, but you should also consider calling a plumber if you notice any other rusted pipe warnings.
Signs of Corrosion:
Reddish-brown water discolouration
Metallic tasting water
When you notice that pipes have begun to wear away, the best solution is to call a professional plumber for replacement or repiping. It might be possible to replace a single section, but if your home is full of older pipes, full repiping is a better option.
Full replacement comes with higher costs, but even those prices aren't as high as what some people pay for full restoration services and burst pipe repair in Vancouver. The costs of wasted water and excessive damage could far exceed the cost of repiping.
All blockage makes plumbing lines in Vancouver more susceptible to bursting. Increased pressure from clogs stresses connections and pipe walls. Severe clogs create more than enough pressure to start a burst. If what you flush away can't find somewhere to go, it might just make a new path — directly through your pipe wall.
Underground piping might seem more protected, but it's actually more vulnerable. Even if it's well-insulated against the cold, there are several additional factors that affect outdoor pipes. Your interior lines don't have to fear burrowing animals or careless digging, but your exterior pipes do.
Those examples are somewhat uncommon in Vancouver, but ground vibrations and tree roots are common enough to regularly damage buried lines. Both of those elements often increase pressure and force a burst. Even the effects of nearby construction could shift soil away from your pipe, decreasing its essential support and increasing your risk for a major collapse.
Tree roots are particularly problematic because they actively search for moisture. Plants love sewage. Roots wrap around buried lines and tighten their grip until the lines burst — giving those greedy plants plenty of access to what they want. Sometimes, tree roots in Vancouver punch right through pipe walls, causing not only severe damage but also internal clogs.
Poor installation is most common with private Vancouver remodeling projects that aren't completed by licensed professionals. When lines aren't installed properly, Vancouver homeowners are more at risk for a wide range of plumbing problems. Even something as minor as a single plumbing fixture might alter pressure enough to become a problem — especially if there are already other weak areas along your line.
How to Avoid Burst Pipes
1. Run Your Tap
During a cold snap in Vancouver, letting your taps run stops ice from forming, which lowers your risks of leaks and bursts. You don't have to open all your taps, but you should open any that are closer to your exterior walls — especially if they're not insulated. If you know that certain pipes are more prone to freezing in your home, open any connected faucets to prevent them from freezing. Insulating those problematic pipes is also an excellent idea.
2. Keep Your Home Warm
You might not have to run your faucets at all if your home is well-heated. Pay particular attention to areas that don't get as much heat or taps that may not be used as much as others. If there are lines near your outer walls that don't have insulation, try opening doors to let more warm air reach them. Cold is the enemy of plumbing lines, but heat is the enemy of cold.
3. Disconnect Your Hose
Most plumbing professionals recommend that you disconnect your water hose when it's not in use. Hoses often trap liquid, especially if they're coiled-up. That trapped liquid could freeze and expand through your external valve, resulting in cracked lines. Disconnecting hoses and shutting exterior valves ensures that doesn't happen. If possible, you should completely shut-off your outdoor water supply too.
4. Avoiding Flushing Harmful Materials
You won't have to worry about the pressure caused by clogs if you do everything in your power to prevent plumbing blockage. You should only flush toilet paper, human waste, and water. Anything else could create a major clog. At the very least, harmful materials will contribute to soft blockage and decrease your drainage efficiency. At the very worst, they lead to extensive mainline blockage and major damage.
What Shouldn't You Flush?
Fats, oils, & grease
“Flushable” wet wipes
Dirt & soil
Personal hygiene products
5. Schedule Annual Inspections & Drain Cleaning
Routine maintenance and inspections from an experienced plumber are invaluable. Everyone in Vancouver worried about ruptured plumbing could have more peace of mind with an annual plumbing appointment. Professional drain cleaning comes with solutions that are powerful enough to cut away tree roots, and the inspections that skilled plumbers provide can spot corrosion before sudden emergencies result in costly repairs.
6. Replace Your Older Lines
We can't stress this too much. Lines made from galvanized steel or iron only have a lifespan of around thirty to forty years. If your Vancouver home has older plumbing systems, you're at risk for a bad burst. Modern technology has made repiping more convenient and less invasive than ever before. There are many benefits that come with timely repiping — and there are few benefits that come from an unexpected burst!
Are You Looking for Burst Pipe Professionals?
Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Vancouver has the expertise to answer all your questions, and the skill to handle all your repairs. When it comes to burst pipes in Vancouver, there are many potential causes and many potential solutions. Our friendly, courteous plumbers have a solution for every situation. They'll trace your burst back to its source and make sure your plumbing system never suffers similar damage in the future.
If you need a convenient appointment or 24/7 emergency services from a local Vancouver plumber, call 604-433-5555 today!