How to fix a burst water main?
The pipes in our homes are often well hidden and found in the smallest and most unexpected of places and cutting through a water main is incredibly easy to do, so do not be disheartened if you have found yourself coming here for advice!
If you find a burst water main or you accidently cut through a mains pipe, try not to panic! Most of the time, pipes can be fixed by a quick bit of DIY, and it is not always necessary to call out the plumber! Find out what you can do, and what to do if a burst pipe becomes serious.
Types of Water Main
There are a number of different mains it is possible to have hit – knowing which is which can help you to determine which repairs are most appropriate.
- Trunk Mains – these are water mains that move water around the whole region and are usually rather large in diameter. They are the largest type of pipe.
- Distribution Mains – these mains pipes are smaller in size than trunk mains. They move water around the local area, so can be commonly found around residential areas or housing estates.
- Communication or Supply Pipes – these deliver the water to individual properties and can branch off from either trunk mains or distribution mains.
How Do I Know My Main Is Burst?
Often, it can be difficult to tell if your water main has burst, however if you pay close attention to your water supply, you may be able to pinpoint a few tell-tale signs.
- Changes in water flow and pressure – this could be a complete shut off of water or a decrease in pressure and the speed in which it runs from your taps
- Flooding – perhaps one of the most obvious signs, puddles of water on the floor can be an indication of a burst main
- Mould – damp and moisture are leading causes of mould, so if you see an increase in this, it is possible that it is related to a burst main
- Water Meter – if you see your water meter spinning at a fast rate, it could be likely you have a burst main
- Bubbling walls – a slightly less obvious but still important signifier, bubbling walls, peeled wallpaper, or uneven bumps in your paintwork can be a sign of a burst mains pipe
- Patches of extra healthy grass – often signifying a burst main outside of the home, grass by a burst main will often appear healthier and greener and can be an indicator of a damaged pipe
How Do I Fix My Burst Main?
Fixing a burst main can range from being incredibly easy to requiring a professional. Once you detect a burst main in or around your property, here are some steps you should take.
Turn Off The Water
This is the very first thing you should do, as without taking this step and locating your home’s stopcock to turn off the water supply, water will still keep flowing through the damaged area and access for inspection and repair will be practically impossible.
Access the Damaged Pipe
To repair and inspect the burst pipe, you must first gain access to it. This can be particularly difficult depending on the location of the pipe. If it is behind drywall, remove the drywall around the pipe with a drill or drywall saw, if it is underneath the floor you should remove the floorboards. Take extra care when using a drill to access the pipe as not to drill another hole and create even more problems.
Inspect the Damage to the Pipe
Once you have accessed the pipe, you will be able to gain a better understanding of the damage caused. For example, a leaking pinhole will be far easier to fix than a deep longitudinal cut several inches in length.
The material and size of the pipe can also affect how easy it is to repair – copper pipes will require different repair than plastic pipes, for example.
Fix the Pipe Yourself, if You Can
You should be able to deduce once looking at the pipe whether it will be a quick DIY fix or whether a professional is needed. DIY pipe repairs have become easier and easier over the past decade or so thanks to the introduction of all-in-one pipe repair kits, which contain all the products needed to permanently fix a leaking pipe inside of 30 minutes.
They are effective on pipes of all materials and sizes – you simply seal the leak either with the epoxy putty or pipe repair tape provided and then overwrap with a pipe repair bandage.
DIY repairs are often a lot cheaper than professional repairs, but you must not sacrifice quality for price, especially if the damage could lead to further problems or occur again in the future if not repaired properly.
If Necessary, Call a Professional
If the damage to the pipe and surrounding structure is extensive, you should definitely call a professional over attempting to repair the pipe yourself.
Make sure to hire a reputable plumber or tradesman and check their credentials.
Hiring a plumber is likely to cost between £40-£60 per hour, so make sure to be prepared for this cost.
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