How To Respond To A Plumbing Emergency

A woman demonstrating how to respond to a plumbing emergency while standing next to a bucket of water.

If you haven’t encountered a plumbing emergency before, you’ll probably get to deal with it sooner or later, as they’re unfortunately common mishaps. It’s why learning how to respond during a plumbing crisis is crucial. But first, what is a plumbing emergency?

Plumbing emergencies can occur in many ways, such as:

  • Heater Failure: It happens when the water heater is leaky, noisy, and produces water that is too cold or too hot.
  • Gas Leaks: These are extremely dangerous and require immediate action to prevent explosions and other problems.
  • No Running Water: If the water stops flowing out of your faucets, then you might have a big problem. Without water, your family’s comfort and safety will be compromised.
  • Non-Functional Toilet: Regardless of the cause, a toilet malfunction is a safety issue that requires immediate action.
  • Risk Of Bursting Pipes: This issue must be remediated as early as possible to avoid losing water supply.

Addressing these issues can be a fun and exciting Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project for many who take pleasure in doing housework. However, if you encounter a major plumbing emergency, it’s best to call a residential plumbing service immediately. But before you do so, make sure to respond to the emergency accordingly:

Here are the things you need to do in the event of a plumbing emergency:

1. Turn Off The Water Source

When a plumbing disaster strikes, the first thing that you must do is to turn off the closest water source. It’s to prevent and minimize potential water damage that may devastate your home and compromise the safety of everyone living in it.

  • For toilets, turn off the valve located behind or underneath the commode.
  • For domestic areas, the water control system is often located or installed outdoors near the water meter. It’s usually turned clockwise to shut off the water supply.
  • For major problems, you’ll need to shut off the main water supply to ensure that you won’t pay hefty water bills for the water you didn’t even use.
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Once you’ve shut off the main valve, you might need to turn on all the faucets throughout your home. It will help drain the remaining water left from the plumbing pipes and divert it away from the possible location of the leak.

A man is responding to a plumbing emergency in a room.

2. Shut Off Your Water Heater

In the event of a minor plumbing emergency, shutting off your water heaters across your home may not seem like an important thing to do. But if you have a major issue or are not quite sure about the severity of the problem, you should consider turning off your heater to prevent potentially ruining your indoors.

In addition, water heaters may overheat, especially when the water source has been shut off while the heater is still on. Moreover, if it’s powered by gas, make sure to shut off the gas valves first to prevent devastating disasters, such as fires and constant explosions.

3. Identify The Problem

Evaluating the cause of the plumbing issue may vary in different levels of difficulty. The problem might be too obvious not to detect, or it might need professional plumbing services to assess the root cause of the emergency further.

If the main issue is a leak, you might be able to hold it back using a plumber’s tape or used towels. It is often performed while waiting for expert plumbers to arrive at the scene.

4. Address The Issue Yourself

If you have the nice and complete set of plumbing tools and equipment, as well as plumbing experience and a dose of confidence, you might be able to fix the issues yourself. In this way, you’ll be able to save more money for more important things.

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If you plan to address the issues yourself, then it’d be best to have access to some helpful plumbing tools in emergency cases. These include:

  • Plunger: It comes in different sizes depending on where you need to use it. It’s often used to unclog drains and toilet bowls.
  • Wrench (The Adjustable Type): One of the most versatile tools you need to deal with hex-shaped nuts and bolts.
  • Pipe Wrench: It is used to adjust threaded pipes and fittings, as well as to hold and grip other materials.
  • Basin Wrench: It is used to tighten and loosen nuts in your sinks and faucets to keep them stable.
  • Hand Auger: It is often used to get rid of clogs that can’t be removed with a simple plunger.
  • Propane Torch: It is used to solder copper fittings and pipes.
  • Tubing Cutter: It is used to chop down copper pipes.
  • Hacksaw: It is another versatile tool that can cut through different materials, such as metal pipes, nuts, bolts, plastic pipes, hardware, and screws.
  • Pliers: It is an effective tool when pulling, twisting, holding, grabbing, tightening, and loosening different objects.

Even if you have all these tools on hand, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to tackle every plumbing issue that may come across. It all depends on what problem you’re dealing with. Most problems often require the professional skills of an expert plumber, specialized tools, and highly advanced equipment.

Also, it’s necessary to keep in mind that addressing the problem all by yourself can make the issue much worse. In addition, it can lead to personal injury, especially if you have no idea what you’re doing. Therefore, when in doubt, call an expert plumber.

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5. Call An Expert Plumber

Almost all plumbing issues require the help of a professional plumber. That being said, you should try to call and approach them as soon as possible. While waiting for them to arrive, it’d be best to clear away any excess water using paper towels, a mop, or towels.

Also, keep in mind that plumbers may need to bring back the water supply to your home for a temporary fix. But don’t worry since they usually come back the next day with a better permanent solution.

Final Words

If you ignore plumbing emergencies, it may lead to a more devastating mishap. Above are the steps you need to take in the event of a plumbing emergency. Be sure not to panic to prevent things from getting out of hand. Also, while working on DIY tasks is a great experience and pastime, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber whenever necessary to address different issues effectively, particularly those major ones.


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