Nothing brings a household to an abrupt halt quite like plumbing problems. But it seems they always occur at the most inconvenient times, like on holiday weekends or in the middle of the night. Many plumbers offer 24/7 emergency services, but these can come at a hefty price. That's why you need to know how to tell if your plumbing woes are really an emergency or it just seems that way. The next time you experience plumbing problems, ask yourself these questions before you call the plumber.
Can It Wait?
Although it may seem like an emergency if your toilet won't flush or your pipes spring a leak, that isn't always the case. If you have more than one bathroom in your home, can family members use another bathroom until regular business hours? If the answer is yes, turn off the water to the toilet, close the lid, and alert all family members it is out of order for the night. Likewise, a leaky pipe can make a mess, but if you can turn off the water supply to that area and it doesn't interfere with your toilet and sinks, you can probably wait until morning to make the call.
Think carefully about the problem and brainstorm solutions to hold you over until regular business hours. For example, a slow drip can be solved by placing a bucket or pail under the leak or by clamping a section of an old inner tube over the pipe to temporarily seal the leak.
Will Waiting Cause More Damage?
Sometimes plumbing issues really are an emergency, and nothing you can do can prevent it. If your water main is broken and you can't shut off the water supply, waiting really isn't an option. Allowing water to spew into your basement all night will cause extensive water damage to your home and will skyrocket your water bill, too. Likewise, frozen pipes that have cracked or burst may not be gushing water yet, but you may soon have gushing water in your home. These situations call for quick action to overt more serious problems.
Is It Really Your Problem?
It is easy to react to the situation and assume you are the one responsible for taking care of the problem, but there are occasions when this simply isn't true. If you are renter, you will need to call your landlord, of course, but even homeowners need to take a moment to assess their responsibility. If you are using municipal water, the problem may not be with your plumbing at all. It may be a system wide issue that falls under the responsibility of city employees. If you experience an issue with your main water supply, including a broken or stuck shut off valve, call your utility company first to make sure your issue is really your responsibility to fix. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the city will send out workers at no cost to you.
Common Plumbing Emergencies
Although there is no exhaustive list of the plumbing emergencies you may encounter, the following are the most common.
Stuck or Broken Shut Off Valves: If you have a major leak and cannot shut off your water supply, call a plumber right away.
Frozen or Burst Pipes: If you live in an area where it is cold in the winter, frozen pipes are always a concern. If your pipes freeze and you cannot thaw them, call a plumber right away. Likewise, if the pipes burst, you will need a professional to repair them.
Sewer Backup: If your sinks and bathtub refuse to drain and you notice a foul odor, you probably have a problem with sewer backup. Sewer gases pose a risk to the health of you and your family and should not be ignored, even for a few hours.
Knowing how to determine if you have an real plumbing emergency or if you can wait until regular business hours to call a plumbing company like The Clean Plumbers may save you from the cost of an emergency visit.