They’re the words every homeowner dreads hearing: plumbing emergencies. Immediately, they evoke pictures of flooded basements, ruined furnishings, and high utility bills.
Yet plumbing emergencies aren’t always disastrous, especially if you call the plumber right away. In fact, the secret to dealing effectively with any plumbing problem is to take action instead of hoping the core issue will go away.
Why You Should Take Plumbing Emergencies Seriously
Of course, it can be tempting even for seasoned homeowners and landlords to think that plumbing emergencies might go away on their own. But have you ever heard of a toilet unclogging itself? Or a drip coming from a leaky pipe all of a sudden stopping? Nope. No one has.
Instead of waiting until things get worse, you’re better off calling some local residential plumbers than even going to the hardware store after watching a YouTube “how to fix it, DIY style” video. Why? There are three main reasons.
First Reason Not to Ignore Plumbing Emergencies: Cost
The first reason to take plumbing emergencies to heart is that the longer you delay, the more money you’ll probably spend in the long run. Small problems have a tendency to turn into big ones.
For example, say you’ve installed a state-of-the-art irrigation system to fulfill your landscaping dreams. It works great for a while until you begin to suspect that one of the hoses is slightly torn. Nevertheless, you allow the irrigation system to keep working without bringing in a professional. By the end of the year, you’re shocked: Your water bill indicates you’ve used up more than 6,000 more gallons of water than you normally would! And the culprit? That dime-sized tear in the irrigation system hose.
Second Reason Not to Ignore Plumbing Emergencies: Health and Wellness
Face facts: Who wants to live in a house that’s having a ton of plumbing issues? Chances are that it’s annoying to constantly deal with slow drains or a water heater that doesn’t function correctly. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Another issue related to lifestyle, health, and plumbing problems is the very real potential for mold growth. Mold thrives in humid places. Therefore, a leaking pipe in the basement can quickly create an environment conducive to mold breeding. Mold isn’t just unsightly. It’s also dangerous, as it’s been linked to medical concerns including the development of respiratory conditions and migraines.
Third Reason Not to Ignore Plumbing Emergencies: Property Value
Ideally, you want your home to hold its value. That’s not likely to happen if you look the other way every time something goes awry with the plumbing. Eventually, you’re probably going to end up selling your home. When you do, you might be shocked to learn that all the plumbing emergencies you overlooked have lowered the amounts that bidders are willing to make.
Taking Care of Plumbing Issues
Instead of allowing your house to become an expensive, unhealthy eyesore, start taking care of its plumbing needs by staying attuned to what’s going in wherever water flows in your home. You don’t have to spend all your time thinking about plumbing, of course, but do be on the lookout for some of the most frequently seen plumbing emergencies.
What Are the Top Plumbing Emergencies?
Plumbers who work for residential and commercial plumbing services everywhere know that some plumbing emergencies are common enough to be everyday occurrences. To help you stay ahead of the plumbing needs of your home, we’ve analyzed a few of the top problems that make consumers pick up the phone and call their favorite plumbing experts.
What plumbing emergencies are you most likely to encounter during your time as a property owner? We can categorize them by the areas where they usually occur: bathrooms, kitchens, lower levels, whole-house interior spaces, and outdoor spaces.
Bathroom and Kitchen Plumbing Emergencies
Not surprisingly, kitchen and bathroom plumbing nightmares head the list of most frequently occurring problems, starting with the toilet.
It makes sense that the toilet would need the help of a plumber every now and then. Think of how often toilets are used in a home! In fact, the bathroom remains one of the highest-trafficked areas in any residence, followed by the kitchen.
A usual toilet repair will involve unclogging a toilet that doesn’t flow. Usually, this means using equipment to either bring up debris stuck in the pipes or using force to push the debris downwards so it can be flushed away. A good way to avoid a clogged toilet is to make sure that nothing goes down it besides body waste and toilet paper. However, some people will always try to flush objects they shouldn’t, including baby diapers and used thick paper towels.
Another toilet repair often talked about in plumbing circles is a toilet that starts to overflow, or just threatens to keep running. Although some homeowners look the other way, they shouldn’t. A toilet that runs is wasting water, and the water bill will eventually show the waste. Plus, many toilets that constantly run can be fixed by replacing equipment in the tank. That’s a small price to pay for dependability!
Moving on from the toilet, sinks are other features of both bathrooms and kitchens that can cause plumbing issues. Sinks and drains can stop allowing water to effectively flow. While it can be tempting to purchase a liquid plumbing chemical solution to try to resolve the problem, liquids can be toxic and harsh on pipes. Additionally, they usually don’t work well, if they work at all. By contrast, plumbers have equipment and tools like drain snakes to cut through pipe clogs without hurting the integrity of the pipes themselves.
Another sink-related issue that requires the assistance of a plumber is a sink with a leaky faucet. As was mentioned previously, all leaks need to be addressed sooner or later. If you get yours repaired sooner, you’ll save yourself a considerable headache and possibly a boatload of money. After all, a leaky pipe under a sink can irreparably damage a kitchen or bathroom cabinet. And that means you’d have to spend even more to get your room back to working order.
Basement and Lower Level Plumbing Emergencies
The basement, crawl space, and lower levels of a home also can be places where plumbing emergencies occur. Many plumbers get frantic calls from homeowners frustrated by non-working water heaters. Perhaps the water heater doesn’t heat up the water all the time. Or the water temperature fluctuates too much. Maybe the water heater is starting to show signs of corrosion in areas, which can be an indicator that it might be ready to spring a leak that leaves the room a mess.
Whatever the issue, calling a plumber to take care of a broken or malfunctioning water heater offers peace of mind. Be aware, too, that water heaters only last around a decade. If yours is giving up the ghost, accept that you may have to purchase a new one. Installed, water heaters can run the gamut from a few thousand to several thousand dollars. But they’re key instruments that keep your whole family comfortable.
Another lower level equipment issue that generates calls to residential plumbing services providers is an ineffective sump pump. Sump pumps direct water away from the home, so they’re quite valuable for keeping basements dry, particularly when they’re paired with high-quality dehumidifiers.
A sump pump that’s on the fritz may start to make weird noises, or just might not work at all. Either way, it needs to be diagnosed by someone who understands how sump pumps work. Unless you’re comfortable diving into major sump pump repairs alone, getting advice is wise.
A final plumbing concern that can directly affect not just the basement but also the rest of the house is a backed-up sewer. If you’ve been lucky enough to never have the unpleasant experience of raw sewage making its way into your home, you certainly want to keep it that way! Sewer backups aren’t just disgusting and smelly. They can make a home virtually unlivable for a time. Remember: Sewer gases can be noxious and cause unwanted health responses.
Plumbers dealing with extensive sewer backups may have to work with your municipality. Nevertheless, you’re the one who has to make the first call and get the ball rolling.
Miscellaneous and Whole House Plumbing Emergencies
Are you starting to realize just how much plumbing goes into the making of an ordinary house? As you can imagine, commercial and industrial properties have even greater needs for on-call plumbers! You might only see your plumber once or twice a year, whereas some facility managers need plumbing service experts to come to their sites multiple times a week.
Although it might seem like you’ve been given a lot to think about, you do need to consider just a few more places in your home where plumbing emergencies can happen. This includes, quite honestly, every floor of your residence. Pipes run between the walls, and across floors and ceilings. Without those pipes, you wouldn’t be able to run your washing machine on the second story or the dishwasher in your first-floor kitchen. However, poorly insulated pipes that run against exterior walls may be at risk of freezing during cold weather.
Frozen pipes stop allowing water to travel through them until the ice breaks up. However, the pipes may burst or crack due to the fact that ice takes up more volume than water. When you call your plumber about a suspected or known frozen pipe, the plumber may recommend that you start a slow thawing process by putting warm towels over the pipes to encourage melting. But chances are strong that you’ll need at least one visit from the plumber to ensure that the pipes don’t need to be replaced due to breakage.
Another frequently reported plumbing emergency related to pipes is general leaking. Do you hear a bit of dripping coming from a pipe in the wall every time someone runs the nearby sink? Get on top of the issue immediately. The longer you delay, the higher the chance the dripping water will damage parts of your home. Replacing a pipe is a lot cheaper than literally taking out a whole section of drywall that’s become waterlogged and moldy.
Leaking washing machine hoses are other plumbing emergencies that may not be obvious for a while. The solution can be as simple as fixing the leak by replacing parts and adding hose clamps for plumbing. But again, you’re better off getting the advice and help of an expert rather than trying to mess around with the washing machine yourself. Oh, and if your washing machine is still under warranty, your plumber’s visit might be covered. If the machine is under a year old, call the manufacturer first to see if you can get plumbing help for free. It never hurts to ask!
Outdoor Plumbing Emergencies
Finally, you should always keep an eye on your outdoor plumbing devices. For instance, you probably have at least one, if not several, outdoor faucets. These are the places you hook up your garden hose to keep your plants well-watered. Because outdoor faucets are exposed to the elements year-round, they have a habit of wearing out faster than indoor faucets. Don’t be surprised if you see some dripping in the springtime, which could be remedied with something as easy for a plumber to install as a new hose bibb.
Another source of plumbing headaches that requires a call to a plumbing company is a pool drain that’s become clogged. Pool drains end up sucking up all sorts of debris, and the drains aren’t always able to handle everything that comes their way. Similarly, pipes leading up to the pool can start to wear out, just like pipes inside the house. This can lead to leaking around the pool, which may make a concrete pool deck buckle, or even cause mini sinkholes to appear. Obviously, these are times when a call to a plumber company is a solid rule of thumb!
Remember: Plumbing emergencies are a fact of life. They’re not personal, they’re just realistic. So the next time you experience a plumbing disaster, get on the phone. You’ll be glad to hand over the solution to a professional.