Plumbing in every apartment is no longer a luxury, and we take it for granted that this system must be in good working order. Yes, minor breakdowns happen from time to time — for example, the faucet will start to drip or the flush in the toilet will leak. But what if the problem takes on a larger scale — a pipe has seriously burst?
A water pipe break can happen not only on the street (where accidents, by the way, mostly happen underground, so only employees of service organizations can quickly detect it), but also directly in the house. In this case, the main thing is not to panic and take all necessary measures in a timely manner.
A pipe burst: where to go and how to fix a leak
Where to go
Where should you urgently call if a water pipe breaks in the house?
When a water supply breakthrough is really large and it is impossible to make repairs on your own due to lack of time, skills and / or special materials, you can call representatives of the plumbing services. Moreover, the choice of organization depends on the day of the week and time of day.
Working hours on a weekday? Then you should call the ZhES (housing maintenance service). Its number should be in the information table at the entrance or on the website of the managing organization.
Did the water break occur at night or on one of the weekends/holidays? It is necessary to call emergency workers (emergency service of the water utility unit assigned to the district).
It is best to find out in advance the phone numbers of the housing and emergency services and enter them in your phone book.
What to do if a pipe burst in the house
If at the time of a water failure the room is several people, it is recommended to immediately distribute responsibilities: one calls the plumbers, and the other at this time tries to eliminate the cause and consequences of the accident.
- The first step is to substitute any container under the jet so that water does not pour onto the floor. It can be a bucket, a basin, a saucepan — anything that will hold a sufficiently large amount of liquid for the duration of the troubleshooting. Periodically, containers must be emptied;
- Next, close the water supply valve to the stop. It is located either in an apartment near the water meters, or in the basement of the house (in this case, you will need the keys to the basement). It should be taken into account that if you turn off the tap in the basement, everyone who lives in the entrance will lose access to water;
- After making sure that the water has stopped flowing, you need to start collecting it from the floor as soon as possible. For this, any convenient means is used: a floor cloth, sponge, etc.
It is better to make a duplicate of the keys to the basement of the house in advance, so that later you do not waste precious time searching for them.
Now you need to seal the leak. To do this, you will need the following tools:
- a piece of rubber (a piece of a tube from a bicycle, a cleaning glove) or other similar material that does not allow moisture to pass through and is capable of stretching;
- two screw (worm) clamps or wire;
- a strip of thick fabric or a sheet of tin (for example, cut from a beer can);
- wrench or screwdriver for clamp.
It is advisable to always have several clamps at home. They are quite inexpensive, but their use will help you save a lot of money.
The action plan is:
- Wrap rubber or similar material around the leak as tightly as possible. With tension and, preferably, in several layers;
- Fasten the winding to the stop with clamps or wire;
- Wrap the structure with a piece of fabric prepared in advance or a strip of tin and secure. In the case of tinplate, the edges of the strip should be connected with a pair of screws or screws and nuts of suitable size;
- For additional moisture insulation, it is recommended to use a wide adhesive tape or cling film.
Epoxy resin and an ordinary medical bandage (or other fabric) can serve as a replacement for these materials. You just need to stir the resin, as indicated on the package, and soak the bandage with the mixture. After that, with a wide overlap, wrap the bandage around the leak with as many turns as possible and apply resin from above. Repeat several times.
Also, a special material called «cold welding» can be applied directly to the leak site. It can even be used in water — but you need to be extremely careful if it is hot water: getting burned in this case is a matter of a couple of seconds.
Such an «ambulance» will help the pipe hold out until the arrival of professional plumbers. Although it happens that such temporary measures help not for a day or two, but for several months.
Nikolai, public utility worker:
“Not everyone at home has a supply of clamps. In principle, any tightening material is suitable for a temporary patch: you can use a clothesline, wire, and even an ordinary medical tourniquet. Some use rags and tape. But in order for the adhesive tape to hold firmly, you need to thoroughly degrease the surface — for example, with gasoline or acetone. Did you stop the leak? It remains to call and wait for the arrival of the plumber.
Who is responsible for the accident
It is this question — who is to blame, who should repair the communications thoroughly and compensate for possible damage from a leak — that arises sharply immediately after the accident is stopped.
In private cottages, all internal communications are clearly the sphere of interests and responsibility of the owner of the house. As for pipes on and off the site, those responsible for their repair and maintenance are usually prescribed in an agreement with the owner of the networks (for example, a city water utility or a specialized private company).
But what if a pipe burst in a city apartment?
There are two options:
- If a pipe break occurred on the riser or in the interval from it to the first tap in the apartment, then you need to contact the management company of the house. Common house property is the zone of their responsibility, and their duty will be to eliminate the breakthrough and its consequences;
- In other cases, the owner of the apartment is fully responsible. Therefore, preventive maintenance of pipes must be taken seriously.
If it happened that a water pipe burst and flooded the neighbors, it will be necessary to establish the cost of the damage caused. There are several ways to do this:
- Together with the victims, calculate the market value of the damaged items and, by mutual agreement of the parties, pay this amount. It is imperative to draw up an act that indicates the amount of damage caused or a method for determining its value. After agreeing on the figure, an annex is made to the act, which indicates that both parties agree on this amount. If at the time of drawing up the annex to the act the entire amount has been paid, you can also indicate there that the money was transferred to the victim and the parties no longer have claims against each other. Or you will have to demand a receipt from the neighbor that he received money in compensation;
- Together with the party affected by the flood, you can determine the necessary materials and their quantity for independent purchase, repair, restoration and replacement of things lost and damaged during the flooding of the apartment.
If it is not possible to find a common language with neighbors, the amount of damage can be determined in one of the following ways:
- Hire an independent expert. Payment for his services will need to be negotiated with the victims: either both parties “throw off”, or only one of them pays. If someone does not agree with the expert’s assessment, another can be hired; Otherwise, you will need to apply to the court;
- Go to court. If the neighbors cannot agree on the amount of damage, an opinion from an independent party is required. All kinds of evidence should be prepared: these can be photographs of the apartment, testimonies, a written act, other available documentation — everything that will help the court to assess the losses from flooding as fully as possible.
“It is imperative to call representatives of the operating organization to draw up the act. They must show up. If they don’t go, you need to write a telegram in which, in the form of a request, it is indicated where and when you need to come to draw up an act on the fact of a break in a water supply pipe (hot or cold). By the time the act is drawn up, you need to bring a couple of witnesses (representatives of the injured party can also act as such). The act should indicate the time and place of the accident, a description of the pipe and damage (ceiling paint peeled off, wallpaper damaged on an area of so many square meters, etc.). After replacing the pipe, the dismantled damaged section must be saved. If the neighbors are flooded and you have to go to court, then this pipe fragment may be needed to establish the cause of the accident.
You need to make sure that the photo / video, if possible, contains the following data:
- Correct time and date. If these are snapshots, then this data should be displayed on each of them;
- Location information would be helpful. Modern devices have the function of determining geolocation — you can use it;
- If this is a video, then you need to turn on the microphone and comment on everything that happens in the frame;
- Be sure to rent a room as a whole;
- Specific damage is taken in close-up: wet wallpaper, swollen floor, equipment flooded with water;
- Be sure to capture the pipe break itself close-up and along with the rest of the room.
Prevention of water pipe breaks
If you want to avoid wasting money, time and effort to eliminate the consequences of a water accident, the most effective thing is to prevent its occurrence. To do this, you need to timely check the condition of the water pipes in the house.
What should you definitely pay close attention to?
- Rust. This is perhaps the most important cause of cracks in water supply systems. If brown streaks are found on the pipe, peeling of paint — it should be understood that corrosion has taken over and will cause trouble sooner or later. And simple painting is unlikely to help here — the process has already begun;
- Gradual depressurization. Sometimes the joints between parts of the pipeline do not fit snugly enough to each other. If it is noticed that moisture accumulates in these places, smudges are visible, then depressurization occurs;
- Water hammer is a surge in water pressure in pipes. This can happen both through the fault of public utilities, due to improper maintenance of the pipeline, and through the fault of the consumer of services — due to illegal changes in the water supply system that have not been coordinated with public utilities.
The best way to prevent a serious accident is not to try to fix a small leak yourself by applying a tire or cold welding, but to turn to professionals. Replacing pipes before they break is much more efficient and profitable than after it.
An example of fixing a leak in a pipe: