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Don’t Panic! Here’s What to Do in a Plumbing Emergency

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In order to cope with a plumbing emergency, you need to be prepared. And in order to properly prepare yourself, you need information and contacts.

Before an emergency even happens, find a local plumber that you trust – one who offers 24/7 service – and punch their number right into your speed-dial. Leaks, floods and burst pipes can happen at any hour of the day, so it really is imperative that you find an around-the-clock plumber.

With that little piece of planning out of the way, it’s time to get informed: here are the steps you can take if you come up against a plumbing emergency.

1. First Things First

If you have an emergency, the first thing you need to do is shut off the water. One of the sure fire ways to tell you if you have a plumbing emergency on your hands is if the problem causes water damage – in particular, if you come home to find drywall on the floor. This is why shutting off the water is the first step. The main valve shut off is different in each home, so to stay prepared, locate your valve now.

2. The Second Step

The second step is to check the water heater because, in an emergency, that needs to be shut off to avoid causing damage. You have to prevent heat from welling up inside of the heater, which is why there is a risk of the heater bursting. With a gas heater, you have to turn off the gas first.

3. Dealing with Leaks

Do your very best to identify the source of the leak. Although it may be near impossible (you may be dealing with a hairline crack on a pipe within the walls, for instance), try to locate it all the same. Plumber’s tape can help with small leaks but so can rags or towels stuffed around the pipes, or you can use buckets if the leak is coming from the ceiling. Being able to tell the plumbers where leaks are is crucial, as they need any important information on stacked pipes or other pipes that are malfunctioning.

4. Dealing with Clogs

Sometimes clogs are really caused by tree roots. Opening drains and spigots after you shut off your water can help flush out the water left in the pipe system. Often you are better off checking your drain with a camera scope to prove the best permanent solution (you’ll need your plumber for this), but using a plunger can also help in the meantime.

5. How to Prevent Basement Flooding Plumbing Emergencies

Preventing your basement from flooding means you have to work on waterproofing your basement: through exterior or interior waterproofing techniques, like weeping tiles, sump pumps and sealant coatings. This is certainly an undertaking, but it will avoid costly flood damages in the future.


In order to fix the problem, you have to arm yourself with the right information and make the right kind of phone calls, because when your basement toilet or shower bubbles, you won’t have time to go on the internet and do research. You have to be proactive beforehand and act quickly at the moment. But armed with the right info and the right plumber, your home should be just fine.