How to Be Prepared for a Plumbing Emergency

water quality

There’s almost nothing worse than being caught unprepared when a plumbing emergency happens. Imagine it: your dishwasher malfunctions, and suddenly your kitchen is flooded with soapy water. Now, you’re supposed to stem the flow of water, try to contain the mess, and call a plumber – all while panicking. You may even have kids or pets to manage during all of this.

A plumbing problem is never ideal. However, anticipating plumbing emergencies and preparing for them ahead of time can make a world of difference in how stressful your experience turns out to be. Keep reading to learn how you can be ready in the case of a plumbing emergency.

Early Preparation

First thing’s first – understand your home.

  1. Know where you main shutoff valve is located.
  2. Locate and label individual shutoff valves for your toilets, sinks, and appliances.
  3. Identify the clean-out access point so that you can quickly guide the plumber to it.
  4. Make sure your household members know where the shutoff valves are and how to operate them.
  5. Have some basic plumbing tools on hand: plungers, pipe wrench, and a simple drain snake are a great place to start.
  6. Stock emergency supplies: bucket/mop, pipe repair kit, and maybe even a wet/dry vac to help with standing water.
  7. Have a plumber’s contact info at the ready – consider having a go-to plumber for off-hours emergencies.
  8. Insulate your pipes to reduce the chances of experiencing frozen or burst pipes.
  9. Know what to look out for. Low water pressure, strange noises, slow drainage, or water discoloration can indicate signs of a problem. Understand your home so you can better tell when something isn’t right.
  10. Make sure you’re scheduled for regular plumbing maintenance and inspections of fixtures and pipes.

Saving time is key when it comes to preparation, as water costs money, and so does the damage it can cause!

What to Do When a Plumbing Emergency Happens

When a plumbing emergency does happen, it's important to act quickly in order to minimize damages. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Shut off the water immediately! If it's a localized issue (such as a burst pipe under the sink), use the fixture's shut-off valve. If it's a more significant problem or you can't locate the source, shut off the main water supply to your home.
  2. If there’s water anywhere near electrical outlets or appliances, turn off the electricity at the circuit breaker to prevent electrical shock or fire.
  3. Call a plumber. If your plumbing emergency happens outside of regular business hours, make sure the plumber you call offers 24/7 emergency services.
  4. If necessary and possible, rescue your valuables from being affected by the water.
  5. Contain the water. Buckets, towels, and even a wet/dry vac will all prove useful.
  6. Ventilate the area. Open windows and use fans to start the drying process. This will help mitigate mold and make cleanup easier.
  7. Take photos and/or videos of the damage before and after the plumber comes. These will help you navigate the insurance claims process, if necessary.
  8. Contact your homeowner's insurance carrier. Have your policy ready so you know what should be covered under your policy. If you’re a renter, contact your landlord so they can start the claims process with their insurance carrier.

With any major plumbing incident, you may find yourself needing to secure temporary housing while the problem is fixed and the area cleaned and restored. To make sure you’re not put in a position to face these issues without a plan, take our scout-like advice and always be prepared for the possibility of a plumbing emergency.

Note: Safety is always the most important consideration. Do not attempt to fix major plumbing issues by yourself if you lack the necessary skills and tools – call a professional.

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