If you’ve ever found yourself in a plumbing emergency, you know that the situation can be stressful — and it can be hard to know exactly what to do.
That said, getting your first steps wrong can be a huge problem, leading to snowballing the costs, extensive damage to your home, and time-consuming repairs (not to mention nightmares for years to come).
Fingers crossed you’ll never need to use our step-by-step guide, but if the worst should happen, here’s what you can do to stop plumbing emergencies from spiraling out of control.
How to Prepare For a Plumbing Emergency
The best emergency responder is a prepared responder — and, while you may never be truly prepared for a serious plumbing emergency, there are certain steps you can take to make sure that you’re as ready as you can be.
First, make sure that you’re acquainted with all the main fixtures in your home.
- Where is your water line?
- Where is your water heater?
- Where is your water main?
Knowing where these crucial items are can help you respond quickly when the situation arises.
Next, make sure that you have contact information for a skilled plumber with flexible hours. If you have a true emergency, you’ll want to be able to call someone that you trust — fast.
Finally, make sure that you have all the tools you might need to address the issue yourself. This can include:
- Bucket (to catch water from a leaky pipe)
- Adjustable wrench (for screwing pipes)
- Sealing tape (to temporarily hold pipes together )
- A drain snake (to try to break up clogged drains)
- Protective eyewear (to make sure wastewater never splashes into your eyes)
6 Steps to Resolving a Plumbing Emergency
When a plumbing emergency arises, there are six steps you can take immediately to stop the damage in its tracks. You may not need to take all of these steps as serious plumbing emergencies will need more planning than a leaking tap or slow-draining toilet.
The next time a plumbing emergency strikes, here are the 6 steps you’ll need to take.
Step #1 – Figure Out if You Need Professional Help
Some problems — like a simple clogged toilet — you may be able to handle yourself. Others –like a major leak — will require that you call in the big guns. Start by immediately assessing the damage and figuring out if this is a DIY job or one that you should leave to the professionals.
Wondering what counts as a plumbing emergency? Click here to determine if you need a 24-hour plumber
Step #2 – Call Your Emergency Plumber
If the emergency is totally out of your wheelhouse, you should call your emergency plumber immediately. The sooner they get there, the better. A plumber can also tell you what to do over the phone and let you know if you need to evacuate your home.
Step #3 – Turn off The Water
If there’s more than one of you at home, someone should immediately turn off the water while the other person calls the plumber. If you’re dealing with an isolated leak, you can simply turn off the valves in the immediate area (behind your toilet or under your sink, for example). That said, if you’re dealing with a major leak, you’ll have to turn off your main water valve.
Step #4 – Check Your Hot Water Heater
Next, you’ll want to turn off your hot water heater to avoid damage to the heater itself. Make sure that you always do this after you turn off your main water valve. This will reduce the risk of your water heater bursting or overheating. If you have a gas heater, make sure that you turn off the gas before you turn off the heater.
Not dealing with a faulty water heater? Move on to step #5
Step #5 – Patch Up Small Leaks
If your emergency includes any small or easily identified leaks, you can try to stop it on your own. This can be accomplished using some:
- Sealing tape directly on the leak
- Rags and towels on the pipes to prevent further damage
- Buckets under the dripping to prevent water damage
When your plumber arrives, let them know where the leak is so they can provide a more permanent solution.
Step #6 – Open All Spigots and Drains
Finally, open up all affected drains and spigots. Remember, even after you turn off your water, there will still be water in your pipes. By running the water and opening your drains, you can get rid of this sitting water and reduce the severity of your emergency.
How You Can Avoid a Critical Situation in the Future
Once you’ve dealt with a plumbing emergency, you probably won’t be too keen to face one again. Luckily, there are steps that you can take to avoid a critical situation.
Specifically, you can:
✔ Avoid clogs: by making sure that you don’t flush hair, sanitary products, or too much toilet paper down your drains. In your kitchen, avoid pouring fats, oils, and grease down the sink.
✔ Keep food out of your sink: make sure that you don’t give your sink pipes more food waste than they can handle.
✔ Be careful with harsh chemical pipe cleaners: These chemicals don’t just eat through clogs — they can also cause some serious damage to your pipes, especially if you live in an older building.
✔ Schedule an annual inspection: Calling your plumber every year to inspect your pipes and conduct water heater maintenance. They will be able to detect and prevent any brewing issues before they become real concerns.
✔ Remain vigilant about what’s going on in your home: Specifically, if you notice common signs of a problem — like discoloured water, low water pressure, mold, or rust — pay attention early on and address the issue immediately.
Not Dealing with a Plumbing Emergency Right Now? Here’s What You Should Do instead…
Following these tips and preventative measures can help you effectively resolve a plumbing emergency before it becomes a money pit or a serious inconvenience to you and your family. Again, remember to always:
- Turn off your water
- Have the right emergency tools available
- Keep your eyes open to any concerns or small nuisances
And if you don’t have a plumbing emergency right now, be sure to keep our emergency contact number nearby if something goes wrong down the line – call 9331 6633 to speak to a member of our team today.