What is Considered a Plumbing Emergency?
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Posted October 1, 2021
Did you know that the average household water leaks amount to 10,000 gallons of wasted water each year? That’s around 1 trillion gallons nationwide. This is enough for providing water to more than 11 million homes. Leaks are usually an easy fix, and all it takes is one call to the plumber. However, do they warrant a plumbing emergency service call?
Plumbing companies also operate during normal business hours. Plumbing emergencies, though, don’t always pick a good time. Calling an emergency plumber may cost more, so you need to be wise when deciding whether to call one. Keep on reading to learn when to call for emergency plumbing services.
1. Water Leak
Not all water leaks are an emergency. But, the moment you see some signs of extensive leakage, call an emergency plumber right away.
Water leaks can affect the integrity of your home. Some leaks are silent. Meaning, you don’t notice the issue until after it has already done considerable damage to your home.
Mold and mildew may also form, which can result in serious health issues. It can cause respiratory tract symptoms, itchy eyes, asthma, and so on.
Leaking water is also a fire hazard as it might reach electrical wiring. This can lead to short circuits and shorted wires. Then there’s also the damages it can do to your wallet, especially if it has gone unnoticed for quite some time.
These are only some of the reasons why a water leak can be an emergency. You’ll know if this issue needs immediate attention when you spot some signs of serious leaking.
2. Water Stains
Water stains on the ceiling don’t usually appear until after the leak has been there for a while. That means water has already been soaking the ceiling and/or the floor for the same amount of time. If you’re worried about the extent of the water damage, feel free to call a plumber right away.
3. Damaged or Burst Pipes
Damaged or burst pipes can cause flooding if left unattended. Flooding in your home is always bad news, as it can damage the structure of your home. A single burst pipe can release gallons of water in a short time.
This can weaken the ceiling, walls, flooring, and furniture. This compromises the safety of the whole household.
It’s a huge blow to your family’s finances, as well, especially if you don’t call a plumber right away. Don’t try to solve the issue yourself as doing this will only waste everybody’s time. The damage will get worse, and you’ll lose more money in the end.
The best you can do is to shut off the main water supply before calling a plumber. Then, try to save any furniture and your other belongings to prevent further water damage.
Burst pipes can be due to various reasons, but they’re more common in the winter. The pipes can freeze, which will then cause damage.
4. Sagging Ceiling
Sometimes, the discoloration can come with sagging ceilings. This is a serious issue as it can lead to a total collapse.
If you wait, things will get even messier and more expensive. As such, this is an emergency. Turn off the water right away and call a 24/7 plumbing company.
5. Low Water Pressure
Another effect of having damaged pipes is low water pressure. If you’re experiencing this in more than one faucet, then having your pipes checked is a good starting point.
A clogged aerator can be the cause of low water pressure. However, this should only affect one sink unless there’s clogging in all aerators. Try cleaning it to see if it solves the issue.
Most homes have a pressure regulating valve installed. This valve helps to regulate the water pressure between the street and the home. When this valve has failed, it can cause pressure to rise or drop depending on how the unit fails. This will require a call to the plumber to replace.
6. Overflowing Toilet
An overflowing toilet can be due to various reasons, such as clogged pipes or a damaged float mechanism. Either way, this issue is a huge nightmare to deal with.
Every time you need to turn off the water supply to temporarily fix an issue, you need an emergency plumber. This is one of those times; good thing it’s pretty easy to do. You only need to reach for the water valve behind the toilet and turn it clockwise.
You might want to try the plunger first, though. If that doesn’t work and the toilet keeps overflowing, it’s an emergency. You never want to lose access to your bathroom, especially if you only have one toilet in the house.
In some cases, you might need to turn the water off at the mains. This constitutes an emergency because that would mean you’d have no water until the issue gets fixed.
Before you have to deal with water (and other undesirable objects) on the floor, call an emergency plumbing repair company.
7. Clogged Drains
Clogging is inevitable in all homes, but you should try to prevent it, nonetheless. Wipes, paper towels, and hair that end up in the pipes can clog the system. Don’t throw these down the toilet, and try to remove hair from the drain as much as you can.
Some other causes aren’t easily preventable, though. Tree roots can grow through the cracks and create blockages, for example. Such cases are also hard to identify, which is why you’ll need the best plumbing company.
Some signs of clogged drains are slow drainage, bubbling water, puddles of water, and more. If you notice these, call a plumber because they might be due to more serious issues.
8. Water Heater Failure
Heated water may only be a luxury to some, but it can be a necessity to others. In the former case, you’ll only have to deal with a cold shower while waiting for plumbing businesses to open. In the latter case, a lack of hot water can be an emergency.
When it’s dead in the middle of winter and you run out of hot water, you’re in trouble. Cold water can shock the body, which can be dangerous for the elderly or young children. When this happens and you don’t have other ways of generating hot water, don’t hesitate to get a water heater repair.
There are low risks for hypothermia inside a home, but only if the house has proper heating. A cold room plus a water heater failure are a dangerous combination.
Still, remember that the lack of hot water can still be an emergency in other seasons. If it’s accompanied by the smell of gas, for example, it’s a serious issue. You’ll need emergency water heater repair.
9. Gas Leaks
Speaking of, leaking gas is also a dangerous situation that requires a swift call to an emergency plumbing service.
Natural gas is odorless, which is why companies add chemicals like mercaptans to add a smell to it. This results in the gas smell we’re used to, allowing us to perceive a gas leak and identify where it’s coming from. This is why the first sign of a gas leak is the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs.
Hissing or whistling sounds might also indicate a gas leak, especially if you can hear them near a gas line. Try to see if there’s a cloud forming in the vicinity, as well.
Try to observe the flames in your stove or furnace. They should be blue; if they’re orange, that means there’s a ventilation issue.
Gas leaks will also cause some physical symptoms to manifest, such as:
- Difficulty Breathing
- Irritated Eyes
- Irritated Skin
- And more
These are only mild symptoms. If you get exposed to gas continuously, you’ll suffer from severe health issues or death. The most susceptible ones, however, are your pets, children, and even your plants.
Call a plumber as soon as you notice one or more of these signs. The cost you’ll save by waiting isn’t worth the risks to you and your family’s lives.
10. Backed-Up Sewage
You’ll also have to rely on your sense of smell to notice this symptom. If the sewer line backs up, you’ll know because your house will smell like sewage.
Another sign of a sewage backup is water backup in the other drains. For example, you might notice water coming up the kitchen sink whenever you flush the toilet. Or, water might pool in another location when you take a shower.
Like a gas leak, this is a serious health hazard, so it qualifies as an emergency. Sewage backup releases air-borne contaminants, which can lead to symptoms like vomiting, fever, and gastroenteritis.
11. Loss of Water
Losing your access to clean water warrants a visit from an emergency plumbing company. While it’s not as dangerous as the other problems on this list, it’s still a huge inconvenience.
You can’t wash dishes, flush the toilet, take a shower, cook meals, tend to your plants, and so on. You can’t even wash your hands.
As this is a hygiene issue, it’s enough of a reason to call an emergency plumber. After all, this isn’t something you can fix yourself.
When Not to Call an Emergency Plumber
Plumbers are easy to call, but not everything requires their immediate attention. Some cases can wait until the next business day so you don’t have to pay a costly fee.
Calling plumbers out of their normal business hours is more expensive. If you have a plumbing issue, first assess whether you can wait or do a temporary fix. Here are some examples of problems that can wait:
Although leaks are a serious issue, a minor one can wait until normal business hours. A small leak under the sink, for example, will only need a small bowl underneath to catch the water.
However, make sure to call the next business day. A small drip can turn into a huge issue if left unchecked.
A clogged toilet is annoying (and downright embarrassing if you’re visiting a friend’s place). However, it doesn’t necessitate an emergency. Those with another bathroom in the house, for example, can borrow it for a while.
A basic life skill everyone should learn is using a plunger. It might work to alleviate the problem for a short time, enough to hold off calling the plumber at the wee hours of the night.
Do your drainages take too long to remove the water? Does your shower area feel like a pool at times? Does keeping the faucet open while brushing your teeth fill the sink?
If you say yes to any or all the questions, then you need a plumber. Still, it’s not so big of an issue that it can wait until the next business morning.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew like dark, damp places, so they’re likely to be hiding behind walls. When you see them in plain view, they might have already spread out.
You can choose not to call a plumber immediately, but you should leave the house ASAP to stop inhaling the spores further. Plumbers aren’t the only ones you should call, though. You might need experts to take care of the mold issue with the proper gears.
Learn the Do’s and Don’ts of Plumbing Emergencies
When you encounter a plumbing emergency, you have to be calm and stay on top of things. In cases of leaks, for example, make sure to turn off the water supply first. If you suspect a gas leak, be quick to shut off the main valve and improve the ventilation.
By applying some first aid remedies, you can stop any further damage and dangers. You can then call an emergency plumber to get to the root of the issue. Whatever your problem is, though, don’t hesitate to contact us so we can help you right away with damaged pipes, water heater repair, leaks, overflowing toilets, and more.