What to Do When a Pipe Bursts in Your Home

Woman cleaning up a burst pipe

Whether you’re ready or not, winter is here in Wisconsin. This which means frigid temperatures, large snowfalls, and problems with our homes only those extreme elements can bring.

One of the most common things that happen to people’s homes in Wisconsin in the winter is burst pipes. Frozen pipes cause millions of dollars in damage each winter and can cause other huge problems for homeowners to solve during the harshest months of the year.

To make it even harder, insurance companies often try to give you a lower settlement for these types of incidents.

Why do Pipes Burst?

A pipe burst occurs when a pipe carrying water throughout the home freezes. When the water in a pipe freezes, it expands, causing the pipe to crack or burst open. A burst pipe can happen anywhere in the home, but it is most common in areas where the air is much colder like basements, crawl spaces, and outer walls of your home.

The burst pipe itself is often not the main problem, rather, it’s the water damage that can be caused. Depending on what pipe bursts in your home, you could be looking at hefty damage and a major insurance claim.

If a Pipe Bursts in Your Home, What do You do?

Every pipe burst situation is a little different. Some result in a small crack where the water damage happens slowly over time without you noticing, and sometimes it is a full burst with major water damage and flooding. No matter what situation you are in, make sure to take these steps.

1. Shut off your water IMMEDIATELY

This should go without saying, but in the situation of a burst pipe, your number one priority should be to reduce the damage. Depending on where the burst happens, you may be able to shut off one of the valves that run through a typical home’s plumbing system.

If the main pipe bursts, shut off your main water valve to ensure no more water damage can occur. In the situation of a major pipe burst, you would be surprised how many people panic and forget about the main water valve. Secure the situation first before moving on.

2. Document all the damage

One of your first instincts after a burst pipe is to start cleaning up asap. Understandably so, you want to get things back to normal so you can truly assess the damage. However, what you need to do next is start to take as many pictures and videos as possible. The more the better!

Everything from the pipe itself, damage to the walls, and damage to personal property, all needs to be recorded. It would be beneficial to take a moment to write some things down as well, such as when you realize that the pipe burst, what steps you took, and even what the temperature outside is at that moment in time. The more information that you are able to produce, the easier it will be to start filing an insurance claim.

3. Consult your insurance policy information

Next, look at your insurance policy information. See if you can find any information about burst pipes and what exactly your policy covers. This little bit of knowledge for yourself could be a major benefit later on. The problem is, insurance policies can often be complex and you might feel like you are reading something in a different language. That is why we recommend step 4 as an added benefit to you…

4. Contact A Public Adjuster

A public adjuster is a property claims expert that works for you, on your behalf. We file your insurance claims and negotiate a fair (and often bigger) settlement with the insurance company. We are extremely knowledgeable about the average insurance policies of all major insurance providers and can help translate those complex policies.

But it doesn’t just stop there. Public adjusters can help with all elements of your claim. The sooner you involve us in the process of filing your claim, the better the chances of helping you get a higher settlement are! Once we help you file your claim, we will help you with the entire process of negotiating, filing paperwork, and providing support in any other way possible. We also have connections with many local contractors that can help you get quotes and repair the damage while we wait for your claim to be processed.

​Wisconsin winters are just as brutal on your home as they are on you! Burst pipes can cause a lot of damage and leave you scratching your head with no idea what to do next. If you’re looking for more guidance when it comes to burst pipes and other property damage claims, contact us today! We’ll work with you through your entire claims process, big or small.

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