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13 Warning Signs of a Burst Underground Pipe

If you have a burst underground pipe, you need to act quickly – before it causes significant damage.

We’re here to help.

At ServiceMaster of Lake Shore, we’ve been helping homeowners in the Chicago area deal with burst pipes since 1996.

In this blog, we’ve compiled our knowledge and experience to help you learn to identify the often-subtle signs of a burst pipe beneath your property.

What Are the Signs of a Burst Underground Pipe?

wet spots in the yard

Not sure how to spot a burst pipe? Look for the following:

Visible Physical Changes

1. Sinkholes in the Yard

If you come across areas in your yard that have suddenly sunk, this could signal a considerable leakage from a burst pipe that’s eroding the soil.

2. Cracked Pavement

When water soaks the ground, it can compromise surfaces above, leading to pavement that cracks, sinks, or appears uneven. 

3. Cracked Foundation

Similar to cracked pavement, a leaking pipe can cause your home’s foundation to crack as the structural integrity becomes compromised. 

This can cause your home to shift dangerously, and may lead to other structural issues. 

4. Wet Spots in the Yard

Notice pools of water or perpetually soggy grass in your yard? 

This could be a sign of water escaping from a damaged pipe below the surface of your turf. 

5. Water in the Street

Excess water accumulating on the street or sidewalk near your property – without any clear source – is a significant red flag, and always requires investigation. 

6. Unusually Green Area on the Lawn

If the grass is especially green and lush in just one area of your lawn, it could indicate a burst pipe below the grass.

Water Quality and Supply Issues

7. Unstable Water Pressure

A sudden loss of water pressure throughout your home can mean there’s a significant leak dragging down the overall supply.

8. Dirty Water

Murky or discolored water coming from your faucets might suggest soil or other materials are entering through cracks in an underground pipe.

Financial and Usage Indicators

9. Increased Water Bill

An unexplained spike in your water bill can often point to a hidden water leak that’s continuously running undetected.

Sights, Sounds and Smells

10. Unpleasant Smells

Musty odors around your house may be due to mold or mildew growth fostered by an underground water leak.

11. Damp Flooring or Walls

Water from the ground can seep into your home, wetting floors or walls without any apparent cause.

12. Water Sounds

Sounds of water running or gurgling when no taps are open could indicate water moving through a compromised pipe.

Monitoring Tools

13. High Water Meter Readings

If your water meter displays high readings that do not match your actual or typical usage, it’s time to check for underground leaks.

How to Locate the Underground Leak

how to locate underground leak

Think you might have an underground leak but not sure how to check?

Follow these steps:

  1. Find the water meter and examine your water usage with the main water valve turned off. This is a great way to detect any underground water leaks. The water meter contains a leak indicator, typically a small triangle in red, white, or blue. It should remain still when the water valve is shut off. However, if it spins, there may be a leak underground.
  2. Don’t have a leak indicator? No worries! Take note of the water meter reading and then keep the main water valve off for about 30 minutes to an hour. Afterward, check the water meter reading again and see if there are any changes. If there are, it indicates a leak.
  3. Inspect your yard for signs of an underground leak, like those listed above. If you notice any of these, consult a professional plumber for further investigation.

What to Do if a Pipe Bursts Underground

  • Turn off the Water Supply: Immediately turn off the main water supply to prevent further damage.
  • Contact a Plumber: Reach out to a professional plumber who specializes in underground pipe repairs.
  • Document the Damage: Take photographs and note the details of the damage. This will be helpful if you need to file an insurance claim.
  • Contact your Insurance Company: Reach out to your home insurance provider to check if your policy covers the type of underground pipe damage you’re dealing with.
  • Repair the Pipe: To patch the pipe, dig down to locate the damaged section and then use a pipe repair clamp or a rubber sheet and adjustable hose clamp. Remember, these are only temporary solutions – for a long-lasting fix, it’s best to replace the damaged section of the pipe or call a plumber to do the job for you. 
  • Prevent Future Bursts: Once repairs are done, work with a plumber to discuss measures to prevent future pipe bursts, such as regular maintenance or installing pipe insulation.
  • Call a water damage restoration company: If you experience water damage in and around your home due to a burst underground pipe, reach out to a restoration company such as ServiceMaster of Lake Shore.. Water damage, when left unchecked, can lead to serious structural issues and mold growth.

Dealing with Water Damage from a Burst Pipe in Chicago or Suburbs? We Can Help!

Don’t let a hidden burst pipe undermine the safety and stability of your home!

Trust the experts at ServiceMaster of Lake Shore to help you address water damage caused by pipes and restore your home to its former condition.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you: (312) 707-8597.

FAQs

What causes underground water leaks? 

Leaks in underground pipes can be caused by multiple things, including but not limited to the following:

  • Friction
  • Corrosion
  • Soil shifting
  • Water chemistry
  • Improper installation
  • Subpar pipe materials
  • Aging pipes

These circumstances often lead to the formation of pinholes in the pipe surface. At first, the pinholes release only small amounts of water.

Over time, though, the openings get larger, causing water to seep into the surrounding soil. Properties that are 15 years or older are particularly prone to these types of underground water leaks.

As such, regularly inspecting both indoor and outdoor plumbing is crucial for early leak detection.

If you suspect any issues with your underground plumbing, reach out to a licensed plumber for further investigation.

A professional plumber can use tools like water leak sensors to pinpoint the source of the leak and determine the steps needed to resolve the problem.

Can a burst pipe go unnoticed?

Yes, a burst underground pipe can go unnoticed.

Unlike surface-level plumbing issues, underground leaks or bursts may not immediately show visible signs.

That said, signs like irregularities in water pressure, unexplained increase in water bills, or areas of unusually lush grass might suggest an underlying pipe issue.

In these cases, it’s crucial to seek professional help for potential leaks to prevent further damage.

How can a homeowner prevent a burst underground water pipe? 

Here are a few proactive steps to take:

  • Regularly inspect your home’s plumbing for any signs of wear and tear or damage. Early detection can prevent minor issues from escalating into major problems such as burst pipes.
  • Ensure your pipes are well-insulated, particularly those that are located in unheated areas of your home like the garage or basement. Insulation can prevent the water within the pipes from freezing and causing the pipe to burst.
  • Maintain a consistent temperature in your home, even during the winter months. A steady temperature can prevent the water in your pipes from freezing.
  • Consider installing a water leak detection system. These systems can alert you to any potential leaks, allowing you to prevent a pipe burst before it happens.
  • Keep your underground pipes clear of tree roots and other potential obstructions. Over time, these can cause damage to your pipes and potentially lead to a burst.

For more information on preventing burst underground water pipes, check out this guide.

Get Help Now

(312) 707-8597

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Our office is located in downtown Chicago, IL just west of Millennium Park, nearby Willis Tower and Magnificent Mile. We provide 24 hour emergency fire and water damage cleanup to all of Chicagoland including Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Gold Coast, Lake View, Magnificent Mile and Little Village. We also provide a variety of specialty cleaning services.