We never want to think of the scary “what ifs” that can happen in your home, but since emergencies do happen, it’s best to prepare for any scenario. With the colder season comes frozen pipes, which can sometimes lead to a pipe bursting inside (or outside) of your house. This can result in an insurance claim if significant damage is done, especially if water is left over time. But have no fear – isure has your back! We’ve got eight steps to follow in the event that a pipe bursts in your home.
1. Know the signs
Sometimes a broken pipe is not always obvious, so it’s important to know some of the telltale signs. For example, if you notice any of the below, there’s a possibility a pipe may have burst somewhere throughout the house:
- Water stains on your walls
- Discolouration in the water coming from your faucets
- An increase in your water bill
- Low water pressure
Those chances increase if the temperatures are below zero or there’s a sudden drop in the last 24 hours. Get to your inspection or call a professional if ever unsure
2. Turn off your running water
This is a crucial first step in this process. Why? Because cutting the problem off at the source prevents further damage from occurring. This includes draining all of your faucets from hot and cold water. Prior to any emergency, you should be prepared by knowing where your main shut-off valve is.
3. Turn off electricity (if possible)
Anyone who sat through grade school science class knows that water and electricity can create a very dangerous (and potentially fatal) situation. If a pipe bursts in your home, do not touch any wet wires, devices, appliances or sockets, as you can be electrocuted. If possible (and when safe to do so), turn off your power if there is a high volume of water and wait until a professional arrives.
4. Call your isure broker/insurance company immediately
A lot of people may refrain from calling their broker or insurance company immediately after an accident or emergency occurs. However, it’s important to call your insurer early for multiple reasons. Firstly, it’s essential to confirm your coverage and to get the claim process going. Insurers require that you take steps to mitigate (or reduce the impact) of a loss, so shutting off water and getting your insurer involved immediately is essential. If not, you may not get full coverage or can have a claim denied.
Depending on the amount of damage, your insurer may send a special team of claims specialists to start an emergency clean up.
5. Document all damage
To start your insurance claim, you’ll need to document everything that has damage, and to what extent. isure suggests that you take photo and/or video content to document anything that’s damaged before throwing it away. This will also include parts of your home that have been damaged, like hardwood flooring, drywall, baseboards, etc. If you’re unsure if you should toss anything or what is a requirement for a claim, contact your isure broker for more details regarding your water damage coverage.
6. Remove wet, damaged items and excess water
Please note, before removing any item(s), make sure to take photographs and document whatever items are being removed (see Step #5). If possible, store the items somewhere so your insurer can examine the damage before disposal. It is always best to discuss removal or disposal with your insurer first.
If safe to do so, remove whatever items you can out of the wet, soaking water, including your rugs, moveable furniture, décor and drywall/insulation. This may help to minimize your overall damage and keep whatever is salvageable from further destruction. If a pipe bursts in your home and items are beyond saving, it is best to remove them immediately to prevent the development of mould.
Depending on the location of the burst pipe and how much residual water there is, you can safely start to remove the water until a professional arrives. We suggest using a bucket and mop, a wet vacuum (if handy), a broom to sweep water towards drains and/or towels to soak up excess puddles.
7. Start the drying process
If safe to do so, it is a smart idea to begin the drying process of what’s salvageable when a pipe bursts in your home. Remember, this process may take some time, so be patient. The restoration company hired by your insurer will usually take care of this step, which consists of using fans and/or dehumidifiers to dry up the water that’s left. This typically prevents further humidity from occurring in order to dry the affected areas quickly and efficiently. You and your home insurer will want to be sure that all the moisture is removed before beginning any repairs.
8. Keep your receipts
In addition to documenting your damage, be sure to keep the receipts for all cleanup products and services. If you’ve had to rent any vacuums or equipment, hire a repairman, purchase cleaning supplies or have had to dump furniture, keep your paperwork handy for reimbursal procedures.
So, are you covered?
A common question homeowners have is: If a pipe bursts and water flows all over my floors, am I covered? The short answer is: It depends on the cause.
Prepare your home for the worst (before it happens) by purchasing the correct type of insurance coverage for your needs. Give us a call; we’re always happy to discuss your policy needs and concerns!