There are few things worse than a plumbing emergency. The sound of water leaking or, worse yet, gushing from a pipe brings a sense of panic. While this is an understandable reaction, it is imperative to stay calm and have a plan. This article will help make a plan of action for any plumbing emergency, as well as help prevent any emergencies in the future.
Know Where Your Water Shut-Offs Are Located
In the event of a breach in your supply lines, it is crucial to know where your water shut-off valves are located. There are multiple ways to shut off your water supply, and a lot depends on the age of the plumbing system. Take the time to locate the shut-off valves in your house before disaster strikes. You’ll be glad that you did. If you have any doubts, you can call a licensed plumber or a licensed home inspector to come out and locate them for a fee. If you ordered an inspection when you purchased the home, it should be identified in the report.
Common Shut-Off Valve Locations
Most modern homes have a shut-off valve for each faucet and appliance. With this in mind, you can potentially stop the water leak faster than heading to the main shut-off valve. For instance, if a faucet is spraying water, a toilet is overflowing, or an appliance is leaking, simply locate the shut-off on the plumbing line that supplies water to the leak. Most toilets have a shut-off on the floor where the water line emerges from the floor. Most faucets have shut-offs under the sink. However, some houses, especially older ones, will not have these.
This is when you need the help of a licensed plumber to locate your shut-off valves. Here you will be looking for the main water shut off to the home. Typically, this valve is just inside the home where the main water supply enters the home, although it can also be at the water heater or water pump in the case of a well system. Main water supplies usually enter the home through a basement, crawl space, or mechanical room (i.e., a side room with the water heater and furnace). Again, ask a licensed plumber or refer to your home inspection report to positively identify the main shut-off valve.
In the case that you cannot find your main water shut-off valve, or if your main shut-off is difficult to access, there is a water shut-off for the local utility company outside of your home. In this case, make sure you are aware of the location and call the local utility company to come shut off the water. It is also common to find shut-off valves outside of the home with well systems. These valves will be either buried underground with an access hatch or covered by a shell that insulates the piping from extreme temperatures.
The Water Is Shut Off, Now What?
The very first thing you should do after getting the water shut off is to call a licensed plumber. If you have someone with you, have them call a licensed plumber while you shut off the water. Explain the emergency and find out how quickly they can come to help.
The next phone call goes out to a local restoration service. These services go by different names but can usually be found by looking for flood damage services. These companies specialize in removing water from drywall, hardwood flooring, and all the nooks and crannies that water has worked its way into. Specialized mats, fans, and vacuums are all part of a restoration service’s arsenal. These companies are also able to decide what is salvageable and what needs to be removed.
Finally, once you have called the experts, grab a mop and a bucket. Remove as much excess water from the area as possible, as it will permeate the floor and lower walls if left alone. Use towels, rags, old clothes, literally whatever you have to use to remove this water. It could save you big money in the long run.
Why Does This Keep Happening?
As mentioned earlier, having a plan is everything during a plumbing emergency. The more educated you are about your plumbing system, the better you’ll be able to prevent a future disaster. The best option is to call a licensed plumber to inspect your plumbing system for any defaults. Now, we have mentioned home inspectors already in this article. In this case, however, a licensed plumber is the way to go. Think of home inspectors as the family doctor. They have a general knowledge of the house as a whole. Plumbers are more like a specialist. They have an in-depth knowledge of plumbing systems that far surpasses that of an inspector. After all, you wouldn’t let your family doctor perform brain surgery, would you?
When plumbers arrive for an inspection, there should be a list of points to discuss with them. You can ask if any of your pipes are vulnerable to extreme weather. In addition, you’ll want to know if there is corrosion on any of your pipes or joints. Your drain pipes should be made from the correct material, and plumbers can tell you if this is an issue. You’ll also want to know if your drain pipes have cleanouts installed within your home. Finally, ask if your drain pipes are in good shape and are efficiently moving waste out of your home.
Asking these simple questions is a great way to start a dialogue with professional plumbers and open the door for them to further your education.
What Actions Can Help Prevent Emergencies
While a plumbing emergency should always be handled by a licensed plumber, there are plenty of things you can do daily to avoid potential disaster. Here are a few easy ways to help out your plumbing system:
Clean the hair from your sink and shower drains. Do not flush too much toilet paper at once. Do not flush wet wipes and other types of nondegradable paper down the toilet. Avoid letting cooking grease and food go down your kitchen sink drain. And finally, invest in a garbage disposal and have a licensed plumber install it.
The Safe Bet
It’s tempting to try and save money here and there by trying to accomplish home improvement projects on your own. That’s great if you’re building a bench or tilling a garden, but plumbing is an intricate and well-balanced system. One mistake and you could wreak havoc on your home. Oftentimes, homeowners think they have fixed a problem only to discover weeks later that they caused a leak in the basement or behind a wall. By the time they realize what they’ve done, they’ve caused extensive damage to their home.
The best thing you can do is seek the advice and expertise of a quality, licensed plumber. Cal’s Plumbing has been providing legendary service to the Tucson area since 1948. Our licensed plumbers are not just experienced. They are professional and courteous. We provide residential and commercial services, including plumbing inspection, installation and backflow prevention. When you have an emergency, we are the ones to call. Contact Cal’s Plumbing and schedule an appointment with us today!