There’s a lot of stuff that can go wrong with your plumbing. Anything from a bad smell in your sink to a burst pipe rocketing water through your drywall, is a plumbing problem – but you can tell which one of those is an emergency, and which one isn’t.
Or can you?
Sometimes, smelly sinks can be a sign that there’s a plumbing emergency on the horizon. Other times, they just mean the drain is clogged.
We’re going to take a look at some of the most common plumbing emergencies, but we’re going to start by taking a look at the things that aren’t emergencies – and when you should call a plumber anyway.
These aren’t emergencies
An emergency is a sudden, unexpected event that requires immediate action in order to prevent damage to property or harm to people. There are plumbing emergencies (we’ll get to those in the next section).
The following are not plumbing emergencies. They’re plumbing problems:
Clogged drains are incredibly common – really, a clogged toilet is just a large clogged drain, and anyone with long hair (or long-haired family members) knows how quickly the shower drain can get clogged.
A single clogged drain is not an emergency. There are tons of ways you can unclog a sink drain without calling a plumber first. If you feel comfortable doing so, try unclogging the drain yourself before calling us.
There is a bit of an exception to this rule – when all of your drains are clogged simultaneously, it’s likely there’s a systemic issue. That systemic issue might lead to sewer backup, which is definitely a plumbing emergency (and among the more unpleasant ones, too). If every drain is clogged, call a plumber right away.
Leaky fixtures are interesting, because while they’re not emergencies, per se, you should still call your plumber right away if you can’t fix the leak yourself. A leaky toilet might not destroy your floor or wall immediately, but it may cause damage over time. You’re also wasting water every second a fixture is leaking.
Leaks in things like water heaters take even more priority – as you can imagine, a malfunctioning water heater can be a very bad thing. While we wouldn’t call a leak an emergency, they are urgent.
No hot water
It was tempting to call this one an emergency – if you’ve ever hopped into a hot shower just to have it turn cold suddenly, you know that it can certainly feel like an emergency.
Obviously, no home wants to be without hot water for too long, but it’s not actually a serious threat to your home or health – unless the water heater is malfunctioning very severely. Boiler explosions are exceptionally rare at this point (there are a lot of safety mechanisms in place) – but they do still happen.
These are emergencies
Now that we’ve covered some of the things that aren’t emergencies (though they may be urgent), we can take a look at the things that can pose a serious, immediate risk to your home and/or health.
Here at Master Rooter’s Plumbing and HVAC, we offer 24/7 emergency services. That means if you need help day or night, rain or shine, we’ll be there, tools in hand, to protect you and your property.
Frozen pipes are a huge problem. They mean water can’t get to where it needs to go, which can cut off supply to your whole home. They also mean water has expanded into ice within the pipes, which can very easily lead to our next emergency – burst pipes.
There are some things you can do to thaw pipes on your own, but be forewarned – when pipes freeze, damage comes soon after, and it’s only once you thaw the pipes that you’ll see the damage. When that water unfreezes, it’s going to start spraying out of any cracks it made when it turned to ice.
That’s why it’s a good idea to call a plumber to thaw your pipes – they can deal with the consequences of the thaw, too.
Burst pipes are a really obvious problem in many cases – the water will shoot out like a cannon, damaging its surroundings. We’re not going to go into detail about why this is an emergency for that very reason – just give us a call, and we’ll be there on the double to fix the pipe.
What you should do right away is shut off your water main until the pipe is fixed. This will prevent further damage.
Sewer backup and basement flooding
When sewage starts entering into your home, it’s a serious health hazard – it can also destroy your basement. It’s like when your basement floods (another plumbing emergency) but much worse.
Call your plumber immediately, and stop using any of your plumbing fixtures. You’ll want to take steps to prevent backup or flooding in the future – homes built prior to 1980 in Denver rarely have sump pumps, so if you experience flooding frequently, it’s a good idea to get one installed.
Know any other common plumbing emergencies we missed, or have any questions? Get in touch with us – we love to talk about plumbing.