For most of the time as a homeowner, the plumbing in your home functions without you even thinking about it. When something does go wrong, however, it often requires you to act quickly in a state of relative panic. Almost every home will experience a plumbing emergency at some point – whether caused by an appliance or pipes in your own home or a city pipe bursting. According to federal government figures, around 14.6 million homes in the United States are at risk of flooding.
This guide will walk you through not only what to look for in an emergency plumber, but also when it’s time to call for a plumber in an emergency. In addition, it will cover basic steps for you to take in case of a water emergency (so long as it is safe to do so). When it comes to plumbing emergencies, it’s important to act quickly, as this can save you from further damage, and therefore further expense. Planning ahead is a key part of this since this can save you valuable time when the worst does happen.
Read through this guide and come up with a plan of action – this may involve speaking to plumbers in advance of an emergency, as well as familiarizing yourself with the layout of your home. Although you can always hope for the best, you should plan for the worst.
COST OF HIRING AN EMERGENCY PLUMBER
Hiring an emergency plumber isn’t always driven by price, but it can vary a great deal depending on your location and when your emergency takes place. Below is a breakdown of the costs involved.
This is a standard fee, usually somewhere between $45 and $200 for the plumber per hour.
This is sometimes billed as a travel fee and is a way plumbers ensure that they bill a minimum amount. So the second the plumber sets foot in your home, you will be liable for a charge of $50-$300 (this will usually cover the first hour’s work as well), and then add the hourly rate on top of that.
Emergencies don’t always happen during office hours. If you have to call a plumber during the evening, your total bill will be roughly 1.5 times what it would have been otherwise; for a weekend call it will be double; if you call on a holiday, it will be three times the price.
WHEN TO CALL
AN EMERGENCY PLUMBER
This may sound like an obvious piece of advice, but there are times when you should absolutely call a plumber as soon as possible. Many people wait to see how events will pan out, and it ends up costing them time and money. Use the below guide to determine when is the right time to call a plumber.
Whenever you see rushing water in your home without an immediately obvious source, this constitutes a plumbing emergency. Even if the water is not a torrent, it is extremely bad news. It is particularly dangerous if the water is running through a wall or ceiling since there’s a chance that the water you are seeing is only a fraction of the water leaking.
There are many potential causes of basement flooding – from a burst pipe, faulty appliance, or a clogged sink or toilet. Regardless, a plumber will be able to diagnose it and it’s better to get them to address the problem quickly and remove the flood water.
Usually, burst pipes cause flooding, meaning they fall under the above emergency plumbing category. However, sometimes a burst pipe doesn’t leak at all (perhaps if the pipe has burst due to freezing). Even if you’re not faced with water leaking everywhere, a burst pipe is worthy of an emergency call.
If your toilet is clogged, this doesn’t constitute an emergency. if your toilet is overflowing, it does. An overflowing toilet obviously brings a host of other issues than a burst water pipe, and so it is imperative that you get a plumber to address it as soon as possible.
YOU MAY NEED
AN EMERGENCY PLUMBER
If the above are times when you should always make the call for an emergency plumber, there are other situations when a little further investigation is required. In these situations, it’s not always as clear cut. Here are some examples of those:
If you notice an unpleasant sewage smell anywhere in your home, but particularly in your water (i.e. when you run the shower or the bath), you should be concerned. If you notice this smell, try and locate its origin. If the smell is in the water, then it’s likely that the problem is with your sump pump, septic system, or some other part of the plumbing.
You may need to also check your basement for leaks, as much of the plumbing pertaining to sewage exits the home at this point. In general, if the smell persists, it’s likely a plumbing emergency, and so you need to call the plumber. If the smell is in your water, you should also make an emergency call.
Clogged drains are relatively common. You may notice water draining slowly from your bathtub or your kitchen sink. In this case, you may be able to fix the clog yourself. However, if you can’t fix it, you may need to get a plumber on the case. Although it may not seem like an emergency, a clogged sink can very quickly become an emergency.
HOT WATER ISSUES
If your hot water heater is leaking, even if only a drip, then you may have a potential emergency on your hands. You’ll need to check the drip pan to confirm the leak is coming from the water heater. If it is, then you need to make the call to an emergency plumber. Not only can heated water be dangerous when it leaks, but also, if not fixed, you risk losing hot water to your home.
STEPS TO TAKE
IN A PLUMBING EMERGENCY
If you are faced with a plumbing emergency, every second counts. Be prepared to act quickly yourself before a plumber arrives.
USE THE FOLLOWING AS YOUR GUIDE AS TO WHAT TO DO:
Shut off the water.
This is absolutely critical. Make sure you know how to do this in your home – don’t wait until the water is cascading down the walls before finding it. When you know where the water valve is, make sure all members of your household are familiar with its location and how to shut it off (usually by turning it clockwise).
Call a professional.
Do this after you shut the water off (or, if there’s more than one of you, do it at the same time). They will not only be able to come out and help but will be able to give you short-term help on the phone. Explain the situation to them, as they may advise you to leave the building for your own safety.
Turn off the water heater.
Stop the spread of any small leaks.
If the leaks are small and manageable, use towels and buckets to absorb or collect the water and therefore prevent further damage before the plumber arrives.
COVERING THE COST WITH INSURANCE
In some cases, your home insurance may cover these costs, in which case you may have to use one of the insurance company’s providers. In this instance, be sure to check your home insurance policy before an emergency, and check that you have the plumber’s number on hand. You should also be aware of what is covered under this policy.
Your first call should be to the plumber in an emergency, but your second should be to the insurance company. If you’re using the recommended plumber, you may be able to have them liaise directly with the insurance company, which makes life much easier (and cheaper).
Once something breaks with the plumbing in your home, you soon realize the volume of water that travels through your pipes every day.
A toilet, for example, can use up to
For this to be leaking can very quickly result in serious damage to your home. Water damage can cause major structural problems in your home, as well as create conditions in which mold can flourish. The costs of both are potentially extremely high. For this reason, calling a plumber immediately represents smart financial sense, even with the extra callout fees for an emergency.