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Plumbing emergencies will affect everyone at some point.  To prevent expensive water damage after a plumbing emergency, familiarizing yourself with the following tips is a great investment of time.

Emergency Tips

  • Locate the main water shut-off valve which will shut off water to the entire house.
  • Familiarize yourself with the location and operation of the shut-off valves for each fixture and appliance. This allows water to continue to flow through the rest of the house until the isolated leak can be fixed.  To keep these valves in good working condition, turn them off and on once a year.
  • Good old duct tape will temporally stop a leak in a pipe to minimize the damage until a plumber can arrive.
  • Take lots of pictures and detailed notes about even the smallest of plumbing issues. You may need this information later to work with your insurance company.  You may regret being too lazy to take out the camera phone and snap a few shots to document the situation.
  • Buy a cup plunger for best results on small drains like showers and lavatory sinks. Where extra force in needed like toilets and kitchen sinks, get a forced cup plunger.
  • Water heater leaks are common and can lead to expensive repairs. Learn how to turn off your hot water heater. For gas water heaters, simply turn the switch to the “pilot” position.
  • Bathtub clogs can be stubborn, for best results unscrew the chrome cap to expose the entire drain. Now you should be able to clearly see the clog.  For extra force, put one plunger on the drain, and then a second plunger to cover up the tub’s overflow drain.
  • Don’t go cheap when buying a plunger for the toilet; a forced cup plunger will save you a lot of time and money.
  • Kitchen sinks can be tough to unclog, so use a second plunger to cover the other drain to get extra force for those stubborn clogs.
  • Ferrules, commonly located at compression joints, can sometimes fail causing water to leak. Wrap Teflon tape around the ferrule until the plumber can arrive.
  • Invest in a good set of Allen wrenches which will come in handy when working on garbage disposals or faucets.
  • When the supply tube breaks off it causes a leak, first shut off the water to that fixture. Then screw in a blind cap to seal off the leak until the plumber arrives.
  • Use the “backing off” technique when working on pipes. This involves using two wrenches at once and turning in opposite directions so the wrenches absorb the stress instead of the pipes.