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How Do You Know If You’ve Drilled Into a Water Pipe?

How Do You Know If You’ve Drilled Into a Water Pipe?

You’re hanging up a new shelving unit in your bathroom. You watched some DIY videos and are feeling particularly handy today. You line everything up, pull the trigger on your drill, and push in with gusto. And that’s when you hear it: the chilling ping of metal on metal.

House projects can be a great way to teach yourself home improvement basics. We firmly believe everyone should feel comfortable with a screwdriver, hammer, nail, and leveler. But the average American is less confident about what’s behind the walls.

Learn the signs of when you’ve drilled into a water pipe so that you can take action swiftly and minimize the damage.

How Do I Know if I Hit a Water Pipe?

You’ll likely know if you drill into a water pipe in your home. If the sound of a screw cutting into something other than wood and plaster doesn’t tip you off, the leaking water will.

Depending on the hole’s size, the water will burble out or stream-line out. If you have doubts, follow your gut instinct and stop drilling immediately.

What to Do if You Drill Through a Water Pipe

1. Examine the Point of Contact

Take a closer look. If your water isn’t jetting out, check if anything is dripping from the drill hole.

While the latter may seem less alarming, a minor leakage is just as serious as any geyser in the long run. Even the tiniest drip can create a colossal mold problem. If you’re able, stop the leak with tape, a rag, or your fingers if necessary.

2. Turn Off the Water Main

If there is any external wetness, you’ll want to turn off the valve to your water main immediately. If you’re unsure where the meter is, look along the perimeter of your house, likely facing the street.

The faster you do this, the lower the likelihood of you having a swimming pool in your living room.

3. Call a Professional

Person Calling Professional

Once you’ve turned off the water main, call a professional. Most companies will be happy to give you some free pointers on what to look for and guide you to solve the problem yourself.

When it’s not possible, that’s when it’s good to put down the pliers and call in some backup. Ask for a quote, as prices can vary depending on the company.

4. Check Your Insurance

While you’re waiting for a professional, if you have home insurance, now is the time to figure out what they can do for you. Report any damage, and take plenty of pictures.

5. While You Wait, Ventilate!

If the leak is minimal, keep the room ventilated and the wall as dry as possible. Air circulation could help avoid mold issues in your future, which can be another headache.

Beyond the financial cost, long-term mold exposure can cause serious health problems and attract pests like cockroaches and dust mites. Turning on the overhead fans and any extra stand-alone fans is a wise idea.

How to Avoid Accidentally Hitting a Pipe

Buy a Stud Finder or Echo Locate

A stud finder will help you locate the studs in your walls, as well as electrical wiring and piping. While studs are a good place to consider drilling, you should also be careful because builders use these vertical support beams to route electrical wires.

If you don’t have a stud finder, use a hammer to tap lightly on the wall. It’s an old-school method of finding studs. Listen for any changes in sound. Light and hollow sound generally indicates a point of unsupported plasterboard. A duller, fuller sound is a good hint that you’re tapping in front of a stud. Once you’ve found it, consider the following tip.

Don’t Drill Deep

Puncture through the wall with a screw, but don’t go deeper than that. Once you’ve gotten past the initial layer, put the screwdriver down, push a nail through the hole, and gently feel what’s behind the wall.

If you want to be extra careful, get your drill bit and place a small piece of masking tape about 5/8 inches away from the end. This is the line where you should stop drilling, as 5/8 inches should get you through about ½ inches of drywall and no further.

Pick the Right Wall

Generally, it’s good to be wary of any walls leading to your kitchen or bathroom. Common sense would suggest that your water pipes run through them, as it’s the most direct route to your kitchen sink or the master bathroom.

If in Doubt, Give Us a Call!

There can be a cascade of problems from one broken water pipe, which is why speed and decisiveness are vital if you think you’ve drilled into one. Call a professional right away. It might seem overkill for a tiny puncture, but these little pipes can quickly overflow into huge problems.

From leaks to mold remediation, carpet, and wall restoration, All Dry USA is proud to offer full service in protecting and restoring your home. We’re an all-in-one stop shop for damage repair, specializing in water and fire damage and mold remediation. We’re dedicated to helping you restore and rescue your home, saving you money and maintaining the value of your property. All Dry USA uses the best equipment on the market to restore your house to a home after an accident or disaster strikes.

When your drill hits something you weren’t expecting, don’t risk it. If you’re in doubt, give us a call!

Ben Suiskind
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