How to stop a burst or leaking pipe

Living Well | RACV | Posted on 04 July 2020

Dripping bathroom tap driving you nuts? Here's how to fix a burst or leaking pipe.

A burst water pipe can cause significant damage to your home, leading to expensive repairs and pricey water bills if not dealt with swiftly. So, what do you do if this type of emergency happens to you?

From identifying the leak and turning off your water and electricity mains to choosing a trustworthy and reliable plumber, here's how to stop a burst or leaking pipe.

Plumber fixing leaky tap under sink


How to fix a burst or leaking pipe


1. Identify the source of the water leak

The first step in stopping burst or leaking pipe is locating the source of the water leak. While this may seem simple, locating a burst or leaking can be quite tricky, especially if there is water leaking from the ceiling or the walls. Our guide on how to identify a water leak will help you locate the source of your water leak in your house.

2. Turn off your water mains

If you believe you have a burst or leaking pipe in your home, the first thing you need to do is turn off your water mains. This will stop the flow of water into the house and prevent any further water coming into the pipes. Your water main is typically located near your water meter which is outside the front of your house, either inside you fence or along the verge, in a covered underground box. For apartments, your water mains can be found under either your kitchen or laundry sink.

To turn your water mains off your simply need to remove the lid of the water mains box and locate the valve (for apartments, your mains valve should be uncovered and attached to your water pipe). When on, the valve is pointing in the direction of the water flow (towards your home). Turn the valve clockwise 90 degrees to turn off the water mains. You’ll know your water mains are off if the meter dials have stopped spinning. If you cannot locate your water mains, your neighbours may be able to help, or your emergency plumber will be able to identify it once they arrive.

3. Use buckets and towels to prevent further damage

To minimise the water damage caused to your home, place buckets and towels around the affected area keeping it as dry as possible. This will help prevent expensive repair costs down the track.

4. Drain water from your pipes

Once your water mains have been turned off, you then need to drain the water currently in your pipes - this will also release the water pressure that is already built up in your pipes. To drain your pipes, simply run your hot and cold taps until the flow of water has stopped.

RACV plumber
Plumber fixing kitchen tap


5. Turn off the electrical mains

As a precaution, it is also a good idea to switch off your electrical mains. If your home is flooded, or the water damage is severe, there is a risk that your electrical wiring or sockets may be affected. To switch your electrical mains off you first need to locate the main switchboard enclosure. The location of your main switchboard is usually in the front entry, hallway entry or externally located on the side of your residence. To isolate all power, identify the isolator or circuit breaker (labelled main switch) and if safe to do so, switch off. All power and lighting circuits should be isolated once the main switch is off. Leave power isolated until plumber attends and can assess the extent of the damage.

6. Call a plumber

Now that you have prevented any further water damage or hazardous situations it’s time to call an emergency plumber. Choosing an emergency plumber can be overwhelming. The urgency of arranging a plumber leads many people to make hasty a decision, which can end up adding to their problem. If the repair work wasn’t performed correctly, small issues could turn into major problems and expensive repairs down the track. With so many tradesmen and companies to choose from it can be hard to know if you have found a reputable plumber

7. Open doors and windows

A burst pipe can lead to a lot of water damage in your home and expensive repair costs. To minimise the water damage caused to your home, try to open as main windows and doors around the affected area to help air circulation. While cleaning up the water you can see is important, sometimes the secondary damage such as mould, corrosion and even structural damage can be worse than the initial leak. Drying out the water you can’t see in the carpet pad, plasterboard or even insulation in your walls will help prevent this. If your water damage was severe, a dehumidifier will remove the excess moisture from the air, and a commercial air mover will bring moisture out of the floor, carpets, walls and furniture. 



Need urgent repairs?

If you have a burst or leaking pipe at home and need assistance, RACV can help take the stress out of your home emergency by connecting you with a fully accredited and trained RACV tradesperson, who will arrive on your doorstep usually within the hour. RACV's fully qualified emergency plumbers are available 24/7 with no out of hours surcharge. Your emergency RACV plumber can help you identify the extent of the damage and recommend the best plan of action for your home. They will then either fix the problem on the spot or make temporary repairs to make sure your home is safe and secure, reducing the risk of further damage. RACV also offers an Emergency Home Assist yearly subscription, which includes up to eight emergency call-outs a year, with no charge for RACV to attend the emergency.