How to Clean Up After a Burst Water Pipe

Ceiling damage caused by leaky water pipe

Updated December 6, 2022

Homeownership may be the American dream, but at times it can seem more like a nightmare.

Flooding situations caused by damaged water pipes is a great example.

Most homeowners are unfamiliar with this type of situation and how to deal with it, so we're here to simplify the process.

Dealing with plumbing and flooding issues are a hassle but detecting the issue early and being proactive with a solution can minimize headaches for homeowners.

In this guide, we'll discuss:

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Signs of a plumbing water leak

Recognize the Warning Signs of Water Pipe Failure

Plumbing issues aren’t always immediately apparent, but recognizing them ASAP is key to minimizing damage.

The obvious signs of puddling water or large areas of mold are easy to spot, but there are other inconspicuous warning signs to consider.

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms of a failing water pipe...

Changes in Water Pressure

If you notice that the water pressure varies when the faucet is open or the shower is on, it may be an indicator of a leak somewhere.

Water Discoloration

Water that is consistently tinted any shade of color can signify any number of issues, including damaged or old water lines.

Old steel lines can rust, and copper water pipes can corrode over time.

Having old water pipes increases the risk of a catastrophic failure, especially in very cold conditions where water inside the pipes could freeze and cause it to rupture.

Water Stains on Walls and Ceilings

Discoloration on walls or ceilings can indicate a water leak.

If the area is spongy, it is a strong indicator that water damage has occurred.

Further investigation is recommended as soon as possible.

Foul Odor

A scent of rotten eggs can be a sign of water line failure, particularly sewage lines.

Even a faint foul smell coming from the water tap or shower should be taken seriously.

Noises Coming from the Pipes

When a pipe develops cracks, air is able to enter the water lines. This can lead to unusual sounds coming from the plumbing system.

If you notice any new and unusual sounds coming from inside the walls and ceiling, visually inspect the exposed water pipes you can see.

Also check the ceilings, walls and floors for water spots, mold growth, or a spongy feel.

Hard Water

Calcium and mineral buildup can lead to blockages. This increases pressure inside the water lines, which can cause leaks to develop at weak points, such as joints or corroded areas of the pipe.

Consider installing a water softener to combat hard water.

If signs of water damage are found, turn off the water supply and contact your insurance company and a licensed plumber for instructions on how to proceed.

If the issue is found early on, major damage can be avoided, but a major event will need some remediation.

Whether caused by a slow leak or a burst pipe causing immediate flooding, address the issue as quickly as possible to minimize further issues.

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Reach Out to Your Homeowners Insurance Company

person with full body PPE spraying moldy wall with solution

Your insurance provider should be one of your first calls when noticing any major water damage.

Your homeowners insurance company can help guide you through resolving residential flooding situations.

The claims process can vary by company, but it generally goes something likes this...

Step 1: Contact the insurance company, explain the situation, and start a claim.

Step 2: The insurance company will send someone out to inspect the damage and assess the total cost of the damage.

The Adjuster comes out to the property, inspects the damage, gets additional information from you or other witnesses, and gives the insurance company a total estimate for the damage.

Included in the estimate is the cost to replace all things damaged by the burst water pipe, including flooring, walls, ceiling, fixtures, cabinetry, plumbing, cleanup costs, and more.

Step 3: The insurance company will handle scheduling the repair and remediation process or direct you in how to do it.

Your insurance company will provide funds to cover the estimated damage in the form of a check or direct deposit.

These funds can be used for the repairs, whether doing the rebuild yourself or hiring a construction company to do it for you.

Step 4: Damaged substrate and other materials/items are removed, including any moldy items.

Step 5: Once the damaged items are removed, the affected area is dried out using specialized wet vacs and commercial grade fans.

Depending on the extent of the water damage, it can take several days to a week of fan-drying to reach an acceptable moisture level.

Fans are run 24 hours a day to speed up the drying process, and this produces quite a bit of noise.

Because your home will sound like a droning airplane for several days, plan ahead to meet your needs. For example, if you work from home or don't want to live in the house until the drying process is completed.

Step 6: Once everything is dry, the repair and rebuilding process can begin.

This process may vary depending on your insurance company.

In addition, no two residential water damage incidents are the same, so the cleanup process will depend on the extent of the damage and other factors.

Because of this, the cost of water damage cleanup and repair is highly variable as well.

Long-term water damage involving large amounts of mold may require environmental remediation, and this can increase cleanup costs quite a bit.

Use Junk Removal for Minor Water Damage Cleanups

Fans with hoses drying water damaged floor

Sometimes your specific type of water damage isn’t covered under your homeowners insurance policy, or the damage is minimal and you don’t want to go through the insurance claim process.

In minor flood situations, you may be able to contact a junk removal company to handle the cleanup.

The biggest advantages of using a junk removal company rather than doing the cleanup yourself are the convenience and value.

Professional cleanup crews handle all the heavy lifting, hauling, and proper disposing of the damaged materials.

Junk removal prices generally start at $75 to $150 depending on where you live and goes up from there depending on the size and complexity of your cleanup project.

We recommend that you contact multiple local junk removal companies for quotes to be sure you're getting a fair price for quality services.

In the case of mold damage, check with the junk removal company to make sure they are equipped and experienced (and in some cities, licensed) to remove and dispose of moldy materials.

Hometown makes it easy to find qualified junk removal companies in your area, read customer reviews, and request quotes from as many companies as you'd like.

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