“Don’t panic!” That’s most likely what you’re going to hear when you have a plumbing emergency, but we know it’s not easy. When the pipes are gushing water, or the toilet is overflowing, you start thinking about all the things that could be ruined if this catastrophe continues. So, it’s okay to be upset and confused—but you need to act fast. The moment a plumbing emergency occurs, there are a few things you can do to limit the damages and make it easier for the plumber to do their job. 


When You Need an Emergency Plumber


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You never know when a plumbing emergency is going to strike. To give you some peace of mind, here are the times when you need a plumber as soon as possible:


  • Clogs that you can’t remove
  • Uncontrollable leaks that you can’t find or can’t repair on your own
  • Leaking and noisy water heater
  • Sudden water stains on the floor, ceiling, and walls
  • Sound of running water when no fixtures are being used
  • Water pooling under sinks 
  • Overflowing toilet
  • Failing sump pumps


As soon as you notice these issues, get help quickly. Each one can cause expensive and extensive water damage within your home. 


Here’s 6 Steps to Dealing With a Plumbing Emergency 

Now that you know what qualifies as a plumbing emergency, let’s talk about what to do when one occurs. 


1. Shut off your water

The moment you find a plumbing emergency in your home, act defensively. How do you do that? You cut off the source of the problem—the water. By shutting off the water supply in your home, you can limit the damages. Even the smallest of leaks can cause thousands of dollars worth of damages if they go unattended. Not to mention the money you’ll be wasting with every drip! 


So, shut off that leak at the source. Turn off any water running to fixtures that have broken or are unable to shut off. If that doesn’t stop the water, go to the main water supply, which is typically located near the water meter. 


Is the flooding from weather? There is nothing you can do but evacuate as soon as you can. Try to shut off the main water valve and the electricity before you leave your home. In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 


2. Check for damages

Before picking up the phone to talk with a plumber, assess the damage. See if you can determine the issue or where the problem has occurred. The information you give the plumber is going to be essential to solving the emergency. 


Should you detect a gas leak in a broken or noisy water heater, make sure you open up windows and doors. Shut off the gas main. Never block windows or doors with towels, as this could result in a dangerous build-up of gas. 


Another thing to check: the electrical. Any water on the walls or near outlets and other electrical appliances could be hazardous. Shut off energy to that area of the house by using the circuit breaker. Don’t do this if the electrical box has also been affected by the leak. 


3. Take Photos

Though it might seem like a waste of time in the midst of the event, you want to snap a few pictures or take video of the problem while it’s happening. Your home insurance provider and the plumber could use the pictures and video. After the mess has been dealt with, snap a few more photos. 


4. Call your local water company

Did you know that the water company may be able to help? If you find that the leak or issue started with a sewer main or a blocked main water line or sewer pipe, the company could see a plumber to try fixing the problem straight away. They may also be able to provide you with useful tips for dealing with the emergency in the meantime. 


5. Contact an emergency plumber

Now that you have the situation somewhat under control, it’s time to find an emergency plumber, provided the water company couldn’t help. Contact at least three plumbing companies near you. Be sure to tell them the root of the issue and the steps you have already taken.


Also, ask every plumber you contact about the cost of their emergency plumbing service. Not all plumbers can offer a quote before seeing the problem, but they should be able to provide you with a general estimate about the pricing of repairs. From there, you can decide which plumber you wish to use. 


6. Work While You Wait

Once you’re off the phone, it’s time to do some preventative work. Doing something is better than nothing, especially when it comes to leaking or pooling water. If you experience an overflow or a devastating leak, gather some towels and start mopping up the water. If the issue has anything to do with waste water (gray or black water), make sure you are wearing protective equipment, such as shoes and goggles. Move valuable possessions out of the way


Water damage doesn’t take long to wreak havoc on your home, so work as quickly and safely as possible to mitigate it. You can also speed up the drying process by plugging in a fan or dehumidifier—but only if the outlet in the area is safe to use. A fan will let air circulate in, preventing mold growth. 


Meanwhile, keep children and pets away from the plumbing emergency. Not only does this keep them out of harm’s way, but it gives you and the plumber plenty of space to work. You also don’t want children and pets spreading any water around the house. 


Final Thoughts

Plumbing emergencies in your home are never expected and never welcome, but they’re going to happen. Now that you know how to handle a plumbing emergency, you should be able to stop any severe water damage before it occurs. Keep an eye out for any of the emergency triggers, and keep a list of emergency plumbers in your area for when you need them.