Between February 10th and February 17th, 2021, multiple severe winter storms spread across the United States. The state of Texas was hit especially hard by these storms and reached record-breaking, Arctic-level temperatures that dipped all the way down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas of the Southern state. There are more than 250 counties throughout the state of Texas, and each and every one of them was issued a severe winter storm warning during the week of February 14th. No one—including government officials in Texas and the United States as a whole—was prepared for freezing temperatures to spread through the traditionally warm state of Texas. Unprecedentedly high energy demand on Texas’s power grid during the winter storms caused power outages that left more than four million homes and businesses in an electrical blackout—some blackouts lasted for multiple days.
At the same time as they were experiencing widespread electrical blackouts, thousands of Texans also experienced water damage and flooding in their homes and businesses when water pipes began to freeze and burst due to the blistering cold weather. One of the main causes of bursting pipes is when extremely cold weather freezes the inside of the pipes, which can then cause the pipes to expand and burst—which is what happened in Texas. The pipes can also burst when the frozen water inside them thaws and the pipe contracts again. Due to this reason, many more pipes are expected to burst in Texas over the next week or so as the deep freeze in the state subsidies.
Bursting pipes are not a phenomenon that is exclusive to the deep freeze in Texas. In fact, bursting pipes are one of the most common plumbing emergencies—especially during the winter.
If one or more of the pipes in your home plumbing system bursts, you will inevitably experience water damage and some amount of flooding in your home as a result of the burst pipe. One of the main dangers of this flooding is the potential development of mold in affected areas. Here’s how to prevent mold from growing in flooded areas of your house after a pipe bursts in your home.
Turn Off Your Water
After a pipe bursts in your home, it is imperative that you turn off the water supply to your home as quickly as possible. In fact, turning off your water is the first step you should take to prevent mold from forming as a result of a burst pipe in your home.
Turning off the water supply to your home plumbing system will stop more water from flowing into the pipe that burst, thereby preventing additional water damage and flooding inside your house.
Turning off the water supply to your home is fortunately a very simple process. The shut-off valve for your home’s main water supply should be located wherever your water meter is located—which is usually either in your basement or somewhere around the exterior of your home.
Once you locate the shut-off valve for your home’s main water supply, turn it clockwise to turn off the water to your home plumbing system. You can test whether you shut off your home’s main water supply by turning on any faucet inside your house. If water doesn’t flow out of the faucet, you have likely successfully shut off the main water supply to your home.
Dry Out the Flooded Area
Mold does not develop in flooded areas right away, but it can grow within a single day. Therefore, it is very important to dry out the flooded area in your home quickly—but there is no need to panic about drying out the area completely immediately after a pipe in your home bursts. However, you should take steps to dry out that area as quickly as you can.
If the flooding is severe, you may need to call in professionals to dry the affected area for you. For less severe flooding, you can use towels, mops, etc. to remove as much of the water as you can from the flooded area. Fans are also very effective at drying out flooded areas quickly. You should also open all of the doors and windows in any flooded areas. Increased airflow from fans and open doors and windows can be very effective at drying out flooded areas of your home.
Air Out Any Wet Items
As you work on drying out the flooded area of your home, remove any portable items from the affected area. Put these items outside or in an area of your house that is unaffected by the burst pipe.
If you have to keep the items inside your house, open all of the doors and windows in the room where you put them in order to provide as much ventilation as possible to these wet items in order to prevent mold from developing on or inside them.
Call a Plumber
After you have turned off your home’s main water supply and dried out the flooded area of your home as well as you can, it’s time to call a plumber. Only a professional plumber will be able to repair or replace the pipe that bursts in your home. Until you get that burst pipe repaired or replaced, you will be unable to turn the water supply to your home back on and will therefore be unable to use any of the faucets or water-dependent appliances in your home.