Member Insights: What Happens When A Pipe Bursts In Your Office

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

Member Insights by The Waterworks

Water, water everywhere and…all over your office too. When a pipe bursts in your office, it can spell sudden panic and possible disaster if it isn’t dealt with properly. Every minute or hour that goes by without a solution could spell hundreds or thousands of dollars in structural damage and repairs. If a pipe suddenly bursts in your office, take these steps to minimize damage and get your business back to normal.

1)     Turn off the power

Water and electricity don’t mix! If a pipe bursts and is flooding an area, you should turn off the electricity to the affected rooms from your electrical panel. If you aren’t sure which breaker to flip or the flood is affecting a large area, interior wall, or your ceiling, shut off all electricity. Always do this before you step into any flooded areas.

2)     Find the leak source

It’s usually obvious which pipe has burst and what area the water is coming from, but accurately pinpointing the problem can help with crafting an effective solution (such as finding the correct valve to close off).

3)     Close shutoff valves

Once you’ve identified the location of the burst pipe, close the valve closest to the leak. When in doubt, shut off the main water supply to the building. Knowing where these valves are ahead of time can save precious minutes and reduce the water damage that may occur.

4)     Catch the water

Even after shutting the valve, water may still leak from your pipe. Use buckets, trash cans, or other handy containers to catch water before it reaches the floor or other water-sensitive areas. Only do this if the affected pipe is spewing clean water. Avoid getting close to any burst grey water or wastewater pipes.

5)     Call the professionals!

It is imperative that you call a professional plumber to assist with a burst pipe emergency. Ideally, you instructed an employee to call as others were working on steps 1 through 4, but if you were dealing with this problem on your own, now would be the time to call. It’s a good idea to have a regular plumber that you use so you know they are available and can provide quality service. Now is not the time to be looking up online reviews to see who the best for your needs is.

6)     Mop up standing water

If you can, remove any standing water from the affected area. NEVER use a regular vacuum for this as they are not designed for liquids and can pose a threat of electrocution. A wet/dry vacuum is an okay option for removing water if one is available. If not, use buckets, mops, and towels to remove as much water as possible. Again, only complete this step if you are dealing with clean water.

7)     Remove sensitive items

Your professional plumbing team will need to perform repairs in the affected area, so take the time before they arrive to remove water-sensitive items from the room. Furniture, electronics, papers, and other objects should be put in a safe place to dry or be sent out for restoration.

8)     Document the incident

You will want to document the incident for insurance purposes and company records. Write down the location of the leak and a description of the incident. Thoroughly describe the affected areas and items and steps taken to repair and restore these. Take pictures of the pipe and surrounding area both before and after your plumbers have done repairs.

9)     File with your insurance

Some insurances will cover repairs and restoration from a burst pipe and resulting flood. If your insurance company covers this, provide them with your documentation and photos and file as soon as possible.

10)  Restoration

Now that your burst pipe has been repaired, it’s time to concentrate on restoring your building and belongings back to their pre-flood condition. Flooring, drywall, insulation, and other structural elements may need major repairs or replacement.

A burst pipe can be a major emergency in your office, but it can also be avoided. Regular maintenance and inspections from a professional plumber can catch problems before they become disasters. Professional servicing can also provide important services such as winterizing pipes, which will further reduce the chances of a sudden leak.