A burst water pipe in your home will cause damage eventually, depending on the location and severity of the pipe damage. Whether large or small, a burst pipe and resulting water will damage your walls, floors or belongings until the water is shut off and drained from flooded areas.
A burst pipe, whether it's just a leak or major breakage of a pipe first creates water damage in interior and exterior walls. Inside the wall, insulation may grow saturated with water. Electrical wiring exposed to water may short out electricity and increase risk of fire caused by sparks. Exterior house walls may be affected as water coats and saturates plaster, wood or stucco. If water accumulates or saturates timbers and structural components for a long period, structural weakness may occur.
Following pipe damage, floors in the surrounding area may become flooded, depending on the location and rate of flow of water leaking or gushing out of the burst pipe. Carpeting, wood flooring and even cement floors may become damaged by water. Wood and linoleum floors warp and crack and carpeting turns moldy and smelly. Cement floors exposed to long-term water damage may crack or settle.
A burst pipe may cause the accumulation of water in your bathroom, bedroom or kitchen or other living areas, saturating the bottom of furniture. Water soaks into the lower edges of furniture fabric and may destroy upholstery several inches or higher in such pieces of furniture. Electrical outlets may short out, as will plugs attached to lamps, televisions and other indoor appliances. Even if water damage is minimal, damp drywall and wood is a breeding ground for many types of molds, which may lead to illness, especially for those with lung or asthma conditions.
Homeowners living in colder climes should always turn off well pumps that serve the furnace when a house is vacant, even for a short while. When leaving for vacation, turn off the water to the house if possible. If you have an active pipe leak and can hear water running, even if you can't see it, turn off the main water valve to the home. This may help reduce water damage until the utility company or repair person can come repair the burst pipe. When vacationing, or leaving a house for more than a few days, ask a neighbor or friend to come check on the house.