Know What to Do in the Event of a Plumbing Emergency
- Have your plumber’s phone number on speed-dial. This means doing some research before you stand ankle-deep in dirty water in your basement! Ask your neighbours, friends and family who they would suggest. The plumber you select should have offices nearby and be available 24/7, 365. Also know the phone numbers of your water company and town sewer services.
- Stay calm! Take a deep breath. You need to be able to appraise the situation calmly before you start making any phone calls.
- Assess the damage. If the issue is a major backup in your drains, the problem could be a clogged sewer line outside your home. In that case, call your water company or town sewer services. They may already be abreast of the situation and able to send their own technician. If the problem is in your home, call that emergency plumber’s number you have on hand and be ready with a clear description of the problem. The plumber may be able to suggest temporary measures to take until he or she gets there.
- Shut off the water if the problem is not an issue with drains. You know where your shut-off valves are, right? It’s a good idea to be familiar with all the water shut-off valves in the house before a plumbing emergency strikes. If a leak is localized, you may only have to shut off a valve near the problem—a leaking appliance, for instance, or an overflowing toilet. Make sure all the valves are functioning properly and are clearly identified. If members of your household are mechanically challenged, attach a tag to the valve indicating the direction to turn to shut off the water.
- Try to stop or slow the leak until the plumber gets there. If the problem is a fixture or a pipe, you may be able to slow or stop a leak with some duct tape or by tying a rag tightly around the problem. If it’s an appliance, clean out the traps and drains. Position a bucket under the leak.
- Shut off the water heater. Again—be prepared! Know the location of the water heater breaker in your electrical panel or the shut off valve on the gas line to your water heater, depending on its power source.
- Open outdoor faucets if you have them. This will drain the water pipes in your home.
- Maintain your drains. Routinely check to ensure all your drains are flowing freely.
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