What to Do in a Plumbing Emergency

Plumbing problems can happen at any minute, any day, and most of the time, you aren’t prepared for it. However, when a plumbing emergency does happen, there are some things you can do to make the situation more manageable. Aside from not panicking, here is everything you should do in a plumbing emergency:

1. Shut off the water

Always shut off the water in a plumbing emergency, no matter what is happening. You don’t want to worsen the water damage. Most units, such as toilets and sinks, have valves close by. For appliances like washing machines, water heaters, and dishwashers, you want to turn off both the electricity and the water supply. For large emergencies and broken pipes, turn off the entire water supply to your home.

2. Check your water heater

You always want to check the water heater in big plumbing emergencies to avoid damages to the unit. Turn off the heater’s power after you shut off the main water valve to keep water from welling up inside—which could increase the risk of burst pipes or overheating. Have a gas heater? Turn off the pilot first.

3. Deal with small leaks

Grab your plumber’s tape and go in search of small leaks. If you don’t have plumber’s tape, take some rags or towels and tie them around the pipes. Optionally, you can put buckets beneath some leaks if you have room. Next, map out these leaks so you can help the plumber one they arrive.

4. Drain the water

Even after shutting off the water valves, water will remain standing in your pipes. To move the liquid to a safer lace, go outside and turn on the outdoor spigots. If a water hose is attached, give that a few squirts.

Have a clog instead? Open up those drains and pipes with a plunger. Never use chemical cleaners, as this can cause more harm. When it doubt about what to do, consult with a plumber.

5. Know some quick fix techniques

While some problems might feel like a plumbing emergency, there are ways to work around them until a professional can come. For example, if you notice your water is hotter than usual, your water heater might be overheating. Immediately stop using the hot water and go turn off the water heater. Then, open the hot water spigots to let cold water run through.

Next, if you have dripping spigots, you can suspect some of the hardware has gone bad. If you are confident, you may be able to replace this on your own. If not, call a professional plumber.

Lastly, frozen pipes. This can quickly turn into a plumbing emergency, but fortunately, you can also do something to avoid that. Inspect the pipes for cracks. If you see damage, call a professional. If not, you can attempt to thaw the pipes with low heat, such as a hair dryer. Never use open flame, and focus on the entire pipe, not just one spot.

6. Call the plumber

Regardless of the problem, you should always call a professional plumber whenever a plumbing emergency happens. The professional will be able to give you sound advice. Many plumbers also offer emergency plumbing services.

When a plumbing emergency occurs, the first thing you should do is keep calm and remember the above listed tips. Try to turn the water off, stem the flow, and remove water from the pipes. If at any time you are confused or unsure, call a professional plumber and ask for their aid. Doing so will reduce damages and keep you and yours safe from harm.