Burst Pipes

Atlanta and much of the country felt the effects of Mother Nature last week and many of you may be faced with some unexpected home repairs. If you weren’t able to drain the water from your outside hoses and waterlines, you may be dealing with burst pipes .  Although nothing feels more dramatic than rushing water in your home, the fix can often be relatively easy. To start, let’s review how to properly shut off the water supply and drain your outdoor faucets.

In most cases, this is fairly straight forward and can be accomplished by following these simple steps:

Locate the faucets on the outside of the house.

Go inside the house and find the corresponding cut off valve. Typically there is one valve for each faucet located just inside the basement or crawl space, but sometimes you might have to follow the pipes until
you find the valve.

Turn the cut off valve(s) off by turning clockwise.

Go outside the house and open the faucet to allow the water to drain.

Go back to the cut off valve (from step 3) and open the nipple that is pictured at the bottom of the valve. You might need to use a pair of pliers to turn it counter clockwise, and if it is rusted shut you might shoot a squirt of liquid wrench in the lip of the cup. The purpose of this nipple it to introduce a little air in the line to help the water pour out of the faucet, and if the pipes have a little back flow towards the valve the water will drain out here.

When all the water is out of the line, either flowing out of the faucet (as it should with the correct slope) or through the nipple if there is a little negative slope towards the valve, then tighten back up the nipple (gently as this is just a small thread), it may be recommended to leave the faucet open a bit as this will tell if some water is building up in the line by its noticeable drip.

The lines are now good for the winter.

Now if water was left in the pipes and they then froze, the damage usually occurs as the pipes start to thaw and cracks form from the expanded ice. Copper pipe, PVC pipes, or PEX (a type of plastic pipe used in some new homes) are all susceptible to bursting. If you find yourself with water leaking, try to shut off the valves in as many places as you can find to prevent further damage. Unfortunately the only way to repair and replace the broken bit of line, is to open up the wall where the water is coming from. Sheetrock will need to be removed and then repaired, patched and repainted. Sometimes light carpentry is needed if there is any trim work that has been damaged. Occasionally, repairs are facilitated from the outside of the house, resulting in potential disturbance to exterior wall material, siding, paint, etc.

The good news is that when caught quickly, repairing a burst pipe doesn’t have to be devastating. You just need prompt and professional service. Give us a call at DogGone Handy, 404-876-7000.

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