Brrr, Burst Pipes: A Quick Guide for Winter Emergencies

Alright kids, let's talk the real talk – winter is here, and with it comes the potential nightmare of frozen burst pipes. Trust me, it's the kind of surprise you don't want to wake up to on a holiday morning and all the maintenance folks and plumbers are unavailable. So, as the temperatures start playing freeze tag, it's time to prepare for the worst. I'm going to share some tips on what to do if you find yourself in the middle of a burst pipe situation (Spoiler alert: quick thinking is your best friend), and even how to avoid it in the first place!


1. Shut Off the Water – Like, Right Now:

First things first, you've got to stop the water circus. Locate the main water shut-off valve in your home and turn that sucker off. The faster you do this, the less water damage you'll have to deal with. If you unaware of where your water main shut off is you should learn, and contact your landlord to see if they can inform you. In most cases it will be a red or green handle/knob just past your water meter. Many houses have this outside the home and many multilevel homes and apartments can even have them in the basement. 


2. Electricity + Water = Bad News:

Now, let's talk about safety in a flooding scenarios. If the burst pipe is playing peekaboo near electrical appliances, wires, and plugs, be smart about it. Go to your breaker box and cut the power to affected areas if it's safe, and don't mess with water or electricity again until you're sure you won't turn into a human lightning rod.


3. Save Your Stuff:

Time to play hero to your belongings. Grab anything valuable, electronic, or just plain sentimental and get it out of the water's way, the water will destroy everything given enough opportunity. If you can, lift couches, tables, chairs and beds off the ground to prevent extra damage. Oh, and don't forget to snap some pics – you might need them for insurance later.


4. Call in the Pros – AKA Your Plumber:

Now, it's plumber time. Grab your phone and dial up a licensed superhero – I mean, plumber (or your landlord if you rent). Give them the lowdown on the chaos happening in your home, be as detailed as possible so that the pros know what they are getting into. And since winter is peak pipe bursting season,they will be ready.


5. Gently Thaw Frozen Pipes:

If Jack Frost is to blame for the mess, you might need to defrost those pipes. Break out a hairdryer or space heater and warm things up. But, and it's a big but, go easy on the heat. No flames or excessive heat, okay? We're avoiding extra damage, and potentially even explosions here.


6. Mop, Towel, and Air It Out:

While waiting for your plumbing superhero, grab a mop, towels, whatever you've got, and start soaking up the mess. Crack open windows and doors to let the place breathe. Mold is like a ninja – it sneaks up on you fast. Don't give it a chance.


7. Winterize Those Pipes:

Once you've survived the immediate crisis, let's talk prevention. Insulate those pipes to keep them cozy, maybe use some pipe insulation or heat tape. And for the love of warmth, make sure your home is heated, it’s a good rule of thumb here in Massachusetts to keep your heat on at least 68 degrees fahrenheit. Also if you’re expecting a storm to come while you will not be home (sometimes even if you are home it can be that cold) we recommend also leaving your water taps on a low drip, as moving water doesn’t freeze. This is an old technique but it has saved many homes and could save yours. 

Winter's got its bag of tricks, and burst pipes are one you want to dodge. But with a bit of quick thinking and these tips, you'll be the hero of your home. Safety first, and don't hesitate to call in the pros when things get messy. Winter may bring the chill, but you've got the smarts to keep it outside where it belongs. Stay warm and stay savvy!