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Where Does the Water Go When a Pipe Breaks?

Where Does the Water Go When a Pipe Breaks?

When a water pipe breaks, gallons of water can be spilled onto the property, spreading to the surrounding areas.  One of the challenges of drying these areas is determining exactly which direction the water flowed to fully extract it. This is done by finding the path of least resistance, which is often through cracks, holes, and elevated structures within the property.

Common Materials and Areas Affected by Water Damage

A water damage specialist knows that water can penetrate through a number of barriers, especially those that are porous, such as drywall, carpeting, paint, insulation, and other materials with small holes.  The effects of gravity are also taken into account, often flowing towards the lowest levels of the property, including these areas:

  • Crawlspaces
  • Cabinets
  • Stairwells
  • Basement
  • Flooring
  • Ceiling tiles

Finding Water Damage on Your Property

case study water damage

If water damaged areas are not thoroughly dried, they will develop mold, creating unhealthy conditions for your family.

To determine exactly which areas were damaged, water damage specialists use penetrating and non-penetrating moisture meters. While it can take over an hour of careful inspection, these instruments will paint a picture of the damaged areas without causing further damage to the walls, ceilings, flooring, and subflooring. The professionals will then know exactly which areas to focus on during the drying process.

If property owners take on water damage restoration as a DIY project, one of the common mistakes is that they simply feel around for wet areas. But in my many cases, hidden areas are affected, like behind walls and underneath flooring; while the building material may feel dry to the touch, the space behind it may still be wet.

When these areas are not thoroughly dried, mold will develop, creating unhealthy conditions for your employees or family as well as causing further damage to your property structure. This is why DIY water damage restoration is never recommended because damaged areas are not thoroughly dried, often creating a more stressful problem for everyone.

What to Do if You Have a Burst Pipe

There are prevention steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of a burst pipe, but nothing will guarantee you won’t have an accident. If you do find a burst pipe in your home or building, taking immediate action will mean the difference between a minor inconvenience or a complete disaster.

Be sure to take the following steps if you have a burst pipe:

1. Be aware of the signs of a burst pipe

a. Look for damp areas on walls, floors, and ceilings,

b. Less water pressure, strange noises in the plumbing system, and electrical sockets

2. Turn off the main water shut off valve and open the taps on the property to remove the water from the system.

3. Never use any electrical device that’s been affected by water, especially light switches if water is leaking from the socket.

4. Call a water damage restoration professional for emergency service

a. Blot dry or mop up as much excess water as possible. Less water, less damage.

5. Move all contents away from the affected area, including area rugs, furniture, and high-value items. Remember that insurance is not able to cover some items and others, like artwork, cannot be replaced.

What Happens When a Pipe Bursts?

Freezing temperatures are often the leading cause of burst pipes as they freeze the water within the pipe. As water expands when it freezes, it adds pressure from the inside, eventually causing it to burst. Similar to the first step on what to do in this mess, here’s what happens when a pipe bursts:

  • Changes in water pressure
  • Standing water
  • Water discoloration and odors
  • Strange sounds when turning on the water
  • Pipe issues
  • Expensive water bills
  • Water marks on the ceiling

How to Find a Burst Pipe


To identify the exact location of a burst pipe, look for signs of water damage

As many leaks go unnoticed because they are hidden, you may notice water puddles, drips, or spraying out of the damaged area. Follow the flow of water to the source in the pipe. If the leak is from the main water pipe leading to your home, there may be a sinkhole or puddles in your yard, causing your basement or foundation to flood. If this is the case, call a water restoration professional right away.

To determine if the leak is within the home, turn off the main water valve and watch the water meter. If it continues to move, the leak is most likely within the property. To identify the exact location of the leak, look for signs of water damage, first checking obvious spots like near toilets, sinks, and showers. If you aren’t able to find the leak yourself, call a licensed plumber.

Water Damage Restoration

As soon as the source of the water damage has been cut off, or the leak has been fixed, the water damage must be addressed. It’s crucial to take action right away to have the affected area dried out and cleaned to prevent the risk of mold, which will lead to much bigger problems.

Reach out to a licensed team of water damage restoration contractors to provide emergency services and restore your building materials. ServiceMaster Professional Services is licensed and has a team of trained and experienced technicians that are available 24/7 to service homes and buildings in St. Cloud, MN and the surrounding areas.

As soon as we receive your first call, we will be on our way with professional equipment and products needed to restore the area. We will cover all areas of the restoration process, ensuring that the source is fully removed, there is no risk for mold growth, and all building materials are either replaced or dried and cleaned.

We can also dry out damaged contents, including furniture, artwork, family heirlooms, and upholstery with our content cleaning and pack out services. This service can be conducted on-site or at our facility, depending on the condition of your property.

After the restoration process, we will work with your insurance adjuster to ensure a smooth claims process, so you can focus on other matters.

Emergency Response

ServiceMaster Professional Services is available at (800) 245-4622 in St. Cloud, MN and the surrounding areas to provide emergency water damage restoration services.

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