It does not matter who you are, where you live, or the age of your home, a plumbing emergency can strike anyone. Sure, some homes and plumbing systems are more prone to issues than others, but problems eventually strike everywhere.
Knowing when to call an experienced plumber is important. When you ignore an emergency, you can create major headaches with structural damage and hazardous waste. That’s why you should have a bit of background on the 10 most common plumbing emergencies. If you experience any of these, be sure to call for help rather than trying to fix it yourself.
1. Overflowing Toilet
Everyone gets a clogged toilet from time to time, but one that’s overflowing is a real emergency. An overflowing toilet needs to be handled immediately. The first thing to do is get down to the water supply at the base of the toilet and turn it off. That will stop the water from continuing to flow.
Once that is done, you want to clean up the water quickly to ensure there’s no damage to the flooring or subfloor. You also want to be sure to find what caused the clog. You can easily cause major damage by trying to plunge or snake a toilet where something more substantial has been caught in the pipe.
2. Clogged Sink
Sinks clog from time to time. It does not matter whether it is a kitchen sink, a utility sink or your beloved bathroom sink; clogs will happen. Residue and hair can build up in the pipe, restricting the flow. As this happens, more is caught until finally there is a complete blockage.
You should work to clear a sink at the first sign that it is not draining properly. Failing to do so will cause a more substantial clog and will eventually cost more to clear. There are plenty of safe tools on the market to help you maintain your sink drains. However, do not use liquid drain cleaners. In untrained hands, these chemicals cause more problems than they solve, including toxic exposure.
3. No Hot Water
One of the most common emergencies with water heaters is not having any hot water. This can happen for several reasons, ranging from a pilot light that has gone out to a water heater that has completely failed.
Some people are comfortable doing some basic troubleshooting and trying to find the cause. However, everyone should exercise extreme caution when working on a water heater. The wrong move can lead to anything from dangerous burns from scalding water to explosive gas leaks.
4. Leaking Water Heater
A leaking water heater is a major concern for three simple reasons. First is the potential for property damage from the leak. It can quickly and easily damage the floor and subfloor. If your water heater is in a basement, the leak can quickly get out of hand and soak whatever else is in the area.
It is also a major source of wasted money. From the water itself that has been wasted to the energy that has been used to heat it, that is all money down the drain.
Finally, a leaking water heater is also a safety concern. Not only can it cause someone to slip and hurt himself or herself, but it can also cause severe burns from scalding hot water. If your water heater is leaking, unplug it, and turn off the water source. Then call for expert help.
5. Major Pipe Leak
Pipes will eventually leak. These seepages can cause significant damage regardless of whether it is a pinhole leak or a pipe that has fully burst. It can cause water damage leading to mold and more.
When there is a pipe leak, it is important to look past the immediate leak and to check the integrity of the pipes both upstream and downstream. The last thing you want to do is replace a section of pipe only to have another portion start to leak.
6. Sewage Backup
Not only are sewage backups disgusting, but they can also be challenging to diagnose. The sewage itself poses a risk to both health and property. Finding the cause can be tricky, and having the right equipment to locate that problem is important. While anyone can blindly try different solutions, not taking the proper care is a waste of time and money.
The best way to tackle a sewage problem is to actually get into the pipe and to find the problem. A tree branch that has breached the sewage drain is solved differently than something building up and clogging the drain.
7. Leaking Washing Machine Hoses
Washing machines are incredible additions to any home, making it easy and convenient to keep up with laundry. However, the water lines going to the washing machine are prone to springing leaks. These leaks can be caused by many things, including kinks in the line or mineral buildup that eats through the hose.
In either case, water then leaks everywhere and puts the washer out of commission until the leak is fixed. If you find this kind of leak, turn the water off at the source. Next, unplug the washing machine to reduce the risk of electrical shock. Then call for help repairing the issue.
8. No Water
Not having water will ruin anyone’s day really quickly. Unfortunately, the lack of water flow can have multiple causes. Public buildings have to be shut down if there is an issue supplying water to the building. Your home should receive just as much concern.
If you are on a municipal water source, check with some neighbors to ensure it is not an issue affecting the larger area. Likewise, if you are on a private well, check the breaker for the pump to ensure it has not tripped. If neither of those is the problem, call us to trace down the issue and to get it fixed.
9. Valuable Lost in the Drain or Toilet
One of the most common plumbing emergencies not involving a water leak is something valuable going down a drain or toilet. Whether it is a wallet down the toilet or your wedding ring down the sink, you may have a dreadful feeling that your possession has been lost.
Fortunately, with the right tools, this is not a problem to locate and to retrieve. Turn off the water to the drain where the item was lost, and then call for help.
10. Gas Leak
Gas leaks are one of the most dangerous plumbing emergencies. The most important thing to do if you smell gas in your home is to get your family out. Once outside, call your gas utility or an emergency plumber. The person responding will turn off the gas to your home and then work to identify the source of the leak and to find a solution.