What to do after a Pipe Bursts

Posted on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

What to do after a Pipe Bursts

Water, water everywhere? That doesn’t sound good…

An old rubber hose connected to the washing machine lets go. The pipe connecting to the exterior tap freezes due to poor insulation & bursts. The kitchen piping freezes up as the heat is turned off in the crawl space below. You would not believe how common these losses are!

Did you know, burst pipes and water escape claims are one of our most common claims over the last 5 years? Freezing temperatures and aging pipes don’t pick favourites - it can happen to anybody.

In this post, we will provide a step-by-step outline of what you should do in the event of a pipe burst, as well as how to prevent these common water escape losses in your home.


1. Find your main water shutoff valve and turn it off.

Your main water shutoff valve is generally found in your basement. It may be a gate valve or a ball valve that is on the municipal water pipe that feeds your home (there may be a pressure gauge located on the pipe as well). If your property is fed from a well, your shutoff will be located on a pipe after the pressure tank.

Turn the shutoff valve SLOWLY. If the valve has not been exercised or used in a while, it may be seized. If the valve does not turn or breaks, call a plumber immediately.

If the main shutoff valve is turned off, the water pressure in your home will be relieved, which will stop the flow of water feeding your broken pipe.

2.  Assess the damage and prevent it from getting worse.

Clean up any standing water on your floors to prevent any further damage or slip and fall accidents. Move any unaffected furniture and electronics off wet flooring surfaces to keep them dry.

3.  Call a licensed plumber to fix the issue

You need water, so the faster the issue is fixed, the faster you can get back to more important things. Make sure the plumber is licensed and has insurance. If they cause further damage due to faulty workmanship, you wouldn’t want to be responsible for the cost.

4.  Report your loss to Ayr Farmers Mutual

You can report your claim to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling us toll free at 1-800-265-8792 or by clicking here to submit a claim online.

At Ayr Farmers Mutual, we pride ourselves in having live claims representatives who can respond to your claim promptly. Our Agents, Brokers and Claims Adjusters are here to guide you through the whole claims process.



In older homes, it is very common for the kitchen to be located above a crawlspace. Most burst pipe claims occur in a crawlspace due to poor insulation or the heat is shut off to this open space. As these spaces are used for storage, there is potential for a lot of contents damage. Ensure your crawlspace is well insulated, and never close heat registers to a crawlspace or basement.

If your home has exterior taps, there are two things to keep in mind to prevent freezing in the winter months:

  1. Ensure you shut off these lines before winter by locating their respective shut off vavles inside your home. 
  2. Check for adequate insulation in the open space where the pipe feeds through your rim joists. These rim joists sit near your cold concrete foundation. The open air in this space will be colder which can lead to the pipe freezing. If you do not find any insulation where the pipe exits your home, consider adding some of the appropriate R-Value.

If you see rust on a pipe or corrosion buildup (a powdery substance, teal in colour), seek advice from a licensed plumber. A pipe is much more likely to fail when pressurized when rust or corrostion is present at pipe joints.

Consider replacing rubber hoses with braided stainless steel hoses on your washing machine. Braided stainless steel hoses have a much longer life expectancy than the rubber variety.

Exercise your main shutoff valve and interior shut offs to exterior taps to prevent seizing.

If you are planning on leaving home for an extended period of time (over 72 hours), you MUST have a competent person check your home daily during the heating season, OR turn off the water and drain the pipes.


If you have questions about “Water Escape/Rupture” coverage on your Property Insurance policy, please do not hesitate to contact your agent or broker to discuss.


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