January 5, 2022
By Mark Paup

How to Handle a Burst Pipe Until the Plumber Arrives

Updated January 16, 2024

It’s no secret that Iowa winters can be brutal. And once the temperature reaches 20 degrees Fahrenheit, your pipes may be at risk of bursting during a Des Moines freeze. A burst pipe is never an ideal situation, but sometimes it happens.

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So, what should you do if you find yourself in this situation?

Water damage is the longest-lasting effect of a burst pipe, so you want to prevent as much of it as possible.

Although we recommend leaving the pipe repair to a professional plumber, you can take a few crucial steps to stop flooding while you wait for an emergency plumber to arrive:
  • Turn Off the Water at the Main Shut-Off Valve
  • Call an Emergency Plumber Right Away
  • Open Up Nearby Faucet Fixtures
  • Clean Up as Much Water as Possible

We’ll provide more details on each of these steps below so you can get the situation under control as quickly as possible.

Need an emergency plumber for pipe leak repair or replacement? Call Golden Rule at 515-393-4526. We have the fastest response time in Des Moines, and we’re open Monday through Friday until 7 pm.

Turn Off the Water at the Main Shut‑Off Valve

As soon as you notice water coming from the burst pipe, shut off the main water valve to the house. Doing so will prevent any more water from flowing out of the pipe. The main shut-off valve is usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house.

To avoid high voltage shocks, you should also turn off the electricity. Anyone who wades through the water could get electrocuted if the burst pipe is in a room with electrical outlets, a breaker panel, or other electrical equipment.

Call an Emergency Plumber Right Away

Now that you’ve gotten a handle on the immediate situation, it’s time to call an emergency plumber to repair or replace the pipe.

Open Up Nearby Faucet Fixtures

Pipes typically burst because of a spike in pressure. In the winter, this can happen when water freezes inside a pipe and continues freezing and expanding, increasing the water pressure between the ice blockage and the closed faucet at the end.

To prevent any further problems, you can relieve the pressure by opening up the taps on the faucet. By doing this, you’ll let any water still inside them drip out. Make sure to leave the faucets open until the plumber arrives and completes any necessary repairs.

Avoid trying to patch the pipe with temporary solutions. Even if you think you’re up for the job, it’s best to let professional plumbers complete pipe repair work as an incorrect DIY job can lead to more pipe problems, water damage, and repair costs. An experienced emergency plumber will have the knowledge, tools, and experience to get the job done right the first time around.

At Golden Rule, our emergency plumbers will arrive as quickly as possible (we have more trucks on the road than anyone else in Iowa) and fix the burst pipe. Usually, this requires cutting out the burst section, fitting in a new copper pipe sleeve, and soldering it firmly into place.

Clean Up as Much Water as Possible

A burst pipe can quickly spill a lot of water into your home. While you wait for the plumber to arrive, it’s best to remove as much water from your home as possible. That way, you can prevent water damage, mold, and mildew buildup.

Depending on the severity of the flooding, the clean-up process may be extensive.

golden rule burst pipes
In general, though, these are the basic steps you should follow:
  1. Quickly take photos and videos of any damage. Any documentation will likely come in handy if you need to file an insurance claim.
  2. Move any furniture or personal items to a dry area.
  3. Use a wet-dry shop vac to remove standing water. Just remember to empty the storage tank regularly to keep it from overflowing. If you don’t have a shop vac, use buckets to collect the water and dump it outside. You may also be able to use a mop, towels, or sponges to soak up the water and dispose of it outside.
  4. The next step is to dry the area once you’ve removed as much water as you can. You can use household fans and dehumidifiers in a pinch, but it’s best to rent commercial-grade equipment, if possible, for the best results.
  5. If you’re still using the electricity in your house, turn up the heat. Doing so will help dry the area out and reduce potential water damage.
  6. Once everything is dry, you may need to remove damaged carpeting, flooring, drywall, or other materials from your home, depending on the extent of the damage.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

No one wants to deal with a burst pipe more than once if they can avoid it.

The following tips may help prevent future problems with bursting pipes during frigid Iowa winters:
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas.
  • If the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, leave your faucets dripping to keep water inside the pipes moving.
  • Keep your garage door closed to prevent heat from escaping your house.
  • If you’re leaving your home for vacation, set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. See our blog: “Ways to Prevent Your Pipes from Bursting While You’re on Vacation” for more advice.
  • If you haven’t already done so, it’s a good idea to keep the number of a reliable emergency plumber on hand in case this situation ever arises.
  • Know where your water main shut-off valves are.

Need a Reliable Des Moines Plumber to Repair a Pipe Quickly? Contact Golden Rule.

Call Golden Rule at 515-393-4526 or contact us online. We have more trucks on the road than anyone else and will get to you as fast as we can. Not only do we have the fastest response time in Des Moines, but we also have extended service hours until 7 pm on weekdays.

Every plumber at Golden Rule is highly trained and experienced to provide the best possible pipe repair or replacement possible. That way, you won’t have to worry about any leaks coming back.

If you found this post helpful, check out some other budget-saving tips:

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