A plumbing emergency can take several forms, and the severity of the crisis may vary. A burst pressurized pipe might flood a basement with several gallons of water rapidly, creating a dangerous situation. An overflowing toilet might be less dangerous but may cause significant damage to the area and lead to leaks into the floor and through the ceiling if it is an upstairs bathroom.

No matter the emergency level, homeowners should prepare in advance for catastrophes to happen. Doing so may minimize the damage a property suffers when a plumbing mishap occurs. A fast and proper response will address critical safety concerns, as well.

Avoid Panicking

“Don’t panic” seems like obvious advice while reading an article. A clear head proves helpful when trying to figure out whether safety hazards exist or, for that matter, what the exact problem is. However, in the midst of a plumbing crisis, when water starts pouring through the ceiling or spurts from a broken valve, those not ready for the mishap might feel shocked and concerned. Feeling panicked and upset is okay, but acting on those feelings in an emergency will make the situation worse. If you have a plan prepared ahead of time for plumbing emergencies, you will be much more likely to keep a cool head and know what to do.

Inspect Your Main Water Valve

As part of your plan to be ready for a plumbing emergency, it would be a good idea to locate the main water valve in your house. The main water valves allow homeowners to cut off water entering the home. These valves prove helpful during an emergency or when a plumber needs to do repairs in your house.

Generally, there are two valves. One valve is inside the home and the other – referred to as a curb stop – is outside. Turning the water off at the curb stop involves using a tool called a key, a lengthy pole with an end that looks like a key and can engage an exterior valve. Most homeowners don’t have a curb stop key, and they do not typically need one if the interior shut-off valve works.

However, a shut-off valve has to be operational to stop water from flooding your house in an emergency. To be prepared, you should inspect your main water valve to ensure that it is free of corrosion and turns freely. You can call a plumber to fix or replace the valve if you discover any issues.

Electrical Emergencies

Electricity and water do not mix. If splashing water hits an electrical socket, the socket may start crackling and sparking. In dire situations where flood water is rising, electrical outlets may end up submerged, which is a dangerous situation. The main point is that plumbing emergencies could rapidly turn into electrical crises.

To be prepared for a plumbing crisis, it is a good idea to locate your main breaker and know how to shut off the electricity to your home. In addition, you should show other household members how to shut the power down in case you are not home when an emergency happens.

The main breaker should also be easily accessible. For example, if a breaker is in a cluttered basement, you may want to take the time to clear a path so it is straightforward to get to. Another suggestion that seems obvious until a crisis happens is that there should also be a flashlight or emergency lighting available because once the power is off, there will be no lighting.

Determine How Serious the Situation Is

Not all plumbing emergencies rise to the level of a severe problem. That’s not to suggest they don’t need to be addressed within a proper timeframe, but they might not present hazards or dangers that require immediate attention. For example, A leaky drain pipe under the sink could result in slippery puddles on the floor, but shutting off the faucet and not using it until the drain gets fixed will prevent a slip-and-fall hazard and any further damage to your home. You have plenty of time to contact a professional plumber to fix the issue.

Drain the Pipes

During a flooding situation, when the main water valve is shut off to stop water flowing into the house, there is still water inside the pipes. If there’s a leak, the water does have a path out, the damaged section. Turning on the faucets and draining the pipes will send water down the drain and out to the sewer. The more water you can get out of your home, the better the outcome after a plumbing emergency.

Don’t Flush

When a toilet overflows, people might think they can flush the toilet, and the water going down the pipes with clear away the blockages. That is not likely to happen, and the result could be the opposite of what someone wanted. Namely, the refilled water combines with the clogged water, leading to more water overflowing.

Drain cleaner products are also not useful when dealing with an overflowing toilet. The cleaner will not reach the obstruction if the toilet is not flushing correctly. Using this type of product may also worsen the situation by adding toxic chemicals to the water mess in your bathroom. In addition, many drain cleaner products on the market are harsh and may cause damage to your plumbing system.

Using a plunger may solve the problem, and having one available near each toilet in your home is a great idea. However, if plunging does not work, the best course of action is to call a professional plumber for a drain cleaning.

Deal With Appliances Cautiously

Clothes and dishwashing machines could suffer from leaks, meaning water might pour out onto the floor. That’s a problem in itself. However, things could be worse than you initially realize because the appliances are electrical. Unplugging electrical appliances would be risky if the cords and outlets become wet. In this situation, shutting the power off at the circuit breaker is probably the safest plan.

Contact a Professional

While watching a disaster unfold, it is easy to feel you have to solve the problem even if you do not have any plumbing experience. Attempts to fix a problem without truly understanding how to perform the work might open the door to several risks. For one, a botched plumbing job might result in more damage and costlier repairs. Wasting time trying to solve the problem yourself may also increase the duration of the emergency, resulting in more significant water damage to your home from a severe leak.

At Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter, located in San Jose, CA, we’ve been helping residents throughout the area for years and are dedicated to becoming the only plumbing team you ever need to call. In addition to being experts in plumbing emergencies, we provide water, gas, and sewer services.

Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter can handle all plumbing emergencies. We’re here to keep your home safe and keep everything running smoothly. If you’re having a problem, don’t hesitate to contact us right now; we serve our customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Josh Gibson

Hi, I’m Josh. I’ve been around plumbing my whole life. When I was 5-6 years old my family built a home where I did a lot of the sanding of copper pipe and definitely some playing in the mud. Plumbing is a major part of my family as I am a fourth-generation plumber. The skills I bring to the job are a good technical knowledge of plumbing and code requirements. I am often complimented on my hands-on problem-solving skills.
company icon