What to do in a plumbing emergency
- In a plumbing emergency, you’ll need to stop the flow of water quickly. To do this, you and each member of your family need to know the Plumbing Emergency Repairs and Service location of the shutoff valve for every fixture and appliance, as well as the main shutoff valve for the house, and how they operate.
- If the emergency involves a specific fixture or appliance, first look for its shutoff valve and turn it clockwise to shut off the water to that fixture or appliance only.
- The valve is usually located underneath a fixture such as a sink or a toilet, or behind an appliance, such as a clothes washer, at the point where the water supply pipe (or pipes) connects to it.
- Water coming through a ceiling after a shower can be the result of a plumbing leak, but more frequently is the result of missing caulking – either in the tile or at the area where the tile meets the shower. Check the caulking carefully for open spaces and areas before calling a contractor.
- If the problem is not with a particular fixture or appliance, or if there’s no shutoff valve for the fixture or appliance, use the main shutoff valve to turn off the water supply to the entire house.
- You’ll find the main shutoff valve on the inside or outside of your house where the main water supply pipe enters.
- In cold climates, look just inside the foundation wall in the basement or crawl space.
- Turn the valve clockwise to shut it off.
- Professional Tip: If you need a wrench to turn the valve, keep one, specially labeled near the valve so it’s handy.
- If the main shutoff valve itself is defective and needs to be repaired, call your water company; they can send someone out with the special tool that’s required to shut off the water at the street before it reaches the valve.
A Leaking or Broken Pipe
- Turn off the main shutoff valve to prevent water damage.
- Make temporary repairs to stop the leak.
- The pipe will have to be replaced as soon as it’s convenient to do so.
A Stopped-Up Sink
- Shut off any faucet or appliance (such as dishwasher) that’s draining into the sink.
- Unclog the sink using a plunger or snake.
- DON’T use a chemical drain cleaner if the blockage is total.
A Faucet That Won’t Shut Off
- Immediately turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valve underneath the sink.
- If there’s no valve there, turn off the main shutoff valve.
- Repair the faucet or, if necessary, replace it
A Steaming Hot Water Heater or Faucets
- Open all the hot water faucets to relieve the overheated hot water heater.
- Turn off the gas or electric supply to the heater.
- Let the faucets run until cold water flows from them (this indicates the water in the heater is no longer overheated.
- Close them.
A faucet that won’t yield water is the first sign of frozen pipes. If a severe cold snap hits, prevent freezing and subsequent bursting of pipes by following the suggestions below. Even if the pipes do freeze, you can thaw them before they burst if you act quickly. When temperatures fall very low, here’s how to keep your pipes from freezing:
- Keep a trickle of water running from the faucets.
- Beam a heat lamp or small heater at exposed pipes (hair dryers work well too).
- Wrap un-insulated pipes with newspapers, foam pipe insulation, or self-adhesive insulating tape.
- Keep cabinets open and doors ajar between heated and unheated rooms.
What to do if you smell gas in your home
- This is one emergency to leave for the proper professionals. In the event you start to smell gas or propane leave the home immediately and call your local gas or propane company.
- Do not try to find the leak source yourself.
- Do not operate any electrical, mechanical, lighters or phones until the leak has been cleared by a professional.
Evacuate the premises immediately and do not go back in until it’s been deemed safe.