How to Tell if a Pipe Burst Underground?

Underground Water Leaks & Broken Pipes

Having a pipe burst underground can be a stressful plumbing emergency that no homeowner ever wants to encounter. Underground water leaks and broken pipes can be difficult to find, challenging to fix, and potentially create thousands of dollars in damage.

How to Tell if You Have a Water Leak Underground?

Not every leak creates the kind of high pressure water fountain seen in movies. If the leak is very slow, you may not even see water pooling in your yard or feel damp ground. There are several ways to detect an underground water leak from a burst pipe.

  • Unexplained Water Pooling: A leaky underground pipe can cause water to pool in your yard even when the weather is dry. Leaks from underground pipes can cause water to pool in unsightly places on your lawn or garden. Keep an eye out for any pools of water, as this could be a sign of a hidden pipe leak.
  • Water Pressure Fluctuations: A burst pipe can cause a sudden decrease in water pressure throughout your property. If you find that several taps, showers, and toilets have poor water pressure, there may be a problem with the water supply. Keep in mind that water pressure fluctuations can also be caused by other plumbing issues, so it’s best to consult a certified plumber for an accurate assessment.
  • Sudden Increase in Water Bills: An unexplained spike in your water bills can be an indication of a hidden leak or burst pipe. If your water usage hasn’t changed significantly, yet your bills are considerably higher than usual, there may be a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. Monitoring your monthly water bill can help you catch potential problems early on.
  • Mold or Mildew Growth: Underground pipe bursts can lead to moisture accumulation in hidden spaces, creating the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth. If you notice a musty odor or see mold or mildew in your basement, crawl space, or other areas near your plumbing system, it’s essential to investigate further. These signs suggest that water may be leaking from an underground pipe. Due to the dangers of black mold build up, we always recommend hiring a professional as soon as possible.
  • Decreased Water Quality: A sudden change in the smell, color, or taste of your tap water can also mean broken pipes, as silt, rust, or other unwanted substances can get in and accumulate over time.

Why Do Pipes Burst Underground?

There are several reasons why water pipes break or burst underground. Here are some of the most common contributing factors we see in our experience.

  • Freezing Temperatures: In cold climates, water inside pipes freezes and expands, exerting pressure on the pipe walls. This pressure causes the pipe to crack or burst.
  • Age and Deterioration: Over time, pipes degrade due to corrosion, wear and tear, or material fatigue. As such, aging pipes are more susceptible to leaks and bursts.
  • Tree Root Intrusion: As a tree grows, its expanding roots can invade underground pipe systems, causing blockages, cracks, or even complete pipe ruptures.
  • Excessive Water Pressure: If the water pressure in the system exceeds the capacity of the pipes, it can cause them to burst. This can happen due to factors like malfunctioning pressure regulators or water hammer (sudden changes in water flow and pressure).
  • Corrosion and Mineral Deposits: Over time, mineral deposits and corrosion can build up inside the pipes, reducing their diameter and weakening their structural integrity. This can eventually lead to bursts.
  • Material Defects: Poor quality materials or manufacturing defects in the pipes themselves make them more prone to failure and bursting.
  • Ground Movement: Earthquakes, landslides, or other ground shifting events place stress on underground pipes, leading to cracks or ruptures.
  • Other External Forces: Excavation or construction activities near the water lines are also common culprits of burst or broken pipes, either directly or indirectly. Sometimes all it takes is a heavy truck or tractor to drive over a buried pipe to cause it to break.

It’s worth noting that multiple factors can act in combination, exacerbating the chances of pipe bursts. Regular maintenance, inspections, and prompt repairs can help mitigate the risk of underground water pipe failures.

How to Fix an Underground Water Leak?

If you do discover an underground water leak or burst pipe on your property, whether you own, rent, or it’s part of a business, it’s important to take immediate action. This will help minimize damage and ensure the safety of your property. Here’s what we recommend you do:

  1. Address safety concerns. If the water has come into contact with electrical equipment or wiring, or if there are any safety hazards present, ensure that the electricity is turned off in the affected area and keep yourself and others away from potential dangers.
  2. Shut off the water supply. Locate the main water shut-off valve for your property and turn it off. This should stop the flow of water and prevent further damage.
  3. Inform your water utility company. If the leak or burst pipe is severe, or can’t be shut off, such as in the event of a ruptured water main, it may be necessary to inform your local water utility company or local authorities. They can provide guidance and assistance as needed.
  4. Assess the situation. Try to determine the extent of the leak or pipe burst. In the case of a minor leak, you may be able to handle the situation yourself, given the correct tools and skillset. If it’s a major burst or you’re unsure about what to do about it, however, it’s best to call a professional plumber for assistance.
  5. Contact a professional plumber. Notify a licensed plumber about the issue and provide them with the necessary details. Most plumbing companies have the expertise and equipment to handle underground pipe repairs safely and efficiently.
  6. Clear the area. If the leak starts to flood the area or produce significant water accumulation, clear the affected area to prevent further damage. Move any belongings, furniture, appliances, lawn furniture, or valuables to a safe location.
  7. Document the damage. Take photos or videos of the leak or burst pipe, as well as any resulting damage to your property. This documentation may be useful for potential insurance claims.
  8. Follow professional advice. Once the plumber arrives, follow their instructions and recommendations for repairs. They will assess the situation, locate the exact source of the leak, and perform the necessary repairs or replacements. If the recommendation or proposed cost don’t make sense to you, get another licensed plumber to give a second opinion.

Remember, dealing with underground water leaks or burst pipes can be complex. Do-it-yourself fixes for most ruptured pipes is not recommended and should only be attempted by a licensed professional. If you suspect a burst pipe underground, addressing the issue promptly is crucial to minimize potential damage to your property.

Underground Leak & Pipe Repair Near Wallis TX

Janicek’s Plumbing utilizes advanced leak detection methods and tools to identify and repair underground water leaks and burst pipes near Wallis, Texas, including Katy, Richmond, Rosenberg, Wharton, Brenham, and the surrounding areas. We have access to the right people with the right equipment to get the job done quickly and correctly. Contact us today to schedule an underground leak inspection near you.

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