Plumbing is so central to the workings of your home, so dealing with plumbing issues can be incredibly stressful. It’s essential to know what kinds of plumbing issues you can solve on your own and which you should seek out a professional plumber for help with. Here are seven common plumbing emergencies.
1. Burst Pipes
A plumbing emergency is any plumbing problem that must be addressed immediately, may be caused by serious underlying issues and has the potential to cause a lot of damage or health concerns. One of the most severe emergencies is burst pipes. Burst pipes can cause flooding, break fixtures and appliances or cause severe water damage, depending on the severity of the break. This kind of emergency occurs when water pressure builds to a point that it overwhelms a weak joint or seal in a pipe. For example, if pipes freeze in the winter, pressure can build up and cause a rupture.
2. Clogged Sinks
While a clogged drain isn’t necessarily an emergency in and of itself, it can cause a plumbing emergency if the clog isn’t removed. Large or stubborn clogs can gradually back up pipes and cause pressure to build over time, increasing the risk of water overflow and burst pipes. If you try to clear a clog yourself and can’t remove it with a tool like a drain snake, contact a professional before trying a chemical cleaner, as those can damage pipes.
3. Overflowing Toilets
Sometimes clogged toilets can be fixed with a simple plunging. However, even if the fix is simple, it can cause a panic. If you feel ill-equipped to handle an overflowing toilet, you should call a plumber. If you’re able to deal with the symptoms of a clogged toilet yourself, you should still call a professional if you notice your toilet overflowing more than once or without an obvious clog. There may an underlying issue that you can’t fix with just a plunger. In this case, you should wait for the plumber to identify the cause before you try to use any of your plumbing.
4. Water Main Breaks
While water main breaks aren’t a plumbing emergency that typically occurs in the home, they can significantly affect water quality and safety in multiple homes. A water main break can cause flooding, rupture fire hydrants, damage roads and contaminate water supplies. If the damage is obvious, professionals will shut down the area or road under which the water main broke to make repairs. The water supply will be monitored for potential contamination and may be shut off if contamination is detected. If you notice flooding, broken fire hydrants or a strange taste or smell in your water, call your community’s water department to report it immediately.
5. Malfunctioning Water Heater
A water heater is a sensitive piece of machinery, so if you suspect any issues you should consult with an experienced plumbing professional. A malfunction in this appliance can cause a number of issues, including mild ones like your water not being heated and dangerous ones like contamination. A defect in a water heater will progress in severity until the whole device fails, which can cause a multitude of plumbing failures in your home.
6. Backed Up Sewers
Sewer issues tend to be too deep in the system for you to handle on your own so if you suspect an issue like a backed-up sewer, you should always contact a professional. Sewer backups tend to be caused by blockages in pipes, including grease, hair and sanitary products. The main reason backed-up sewers constitute an emergency is they can affect all parts of the piping in your home.
7. Rusty Fixtures and Pipes
Leaks or rusted fixtures and pipes can cause flooding, water damage and potential health hazards. Some of them can be fixed or patched by the homeowner, but contacting a professional can be a better choice if you’re worried about the rust or crack spreading or about the potential for mold and mildew to start growing in standing water from the leak. A professional will be better able to patch or replace rusty or damaged pipes. He or she will also know whether more fixtures and pipes should be checked for leaks or damage.
If you experience a plumbing emergency, you shouldn’t try to fix it by yourself. Reach out to a professional right away for assistance.