Emergency plumbing problems are something most homeowners will have to face at some point. There can be a variety of causes for plumbing emergencies, some of which could even be prevented with regular and routine maintenance of your home’s plumbing. Let’s take a look at some of the more common problems and what to do should you experience them.
Frozen Water Pipes
If the water pipes in your basement or under your crawl space are not adequately protected against the cold, the water inside the pipes can freeze. While this problem may be an annoyance on cold winter days, it can create more serious problems.
If you are experiencing frozen water pipes every time temperatures dip below freezing, chances are the pipes are not insulated. You will want to get the pipes wrapped by your plumbing repair service company to prevent this problem.
Burst Water Pipes
Water pipes can burst after repeated freezing and thawing cycles. When water freezes and turns into ice, its mass increases and expands. The repeated ice expansion places added pressure on water lines and connections and can cause them to weaken.
In addition, as ice forms, any water that does not freeze is put under higher pressures. If the pressure becomes too great, it can cause a “blowout” in a section of the water line or at a connection.
If your water pipes burst, shut off the water main to stop water from flowing into the home. Clean up the excess water quickly to prevent it from creating extensive water damage in the home. Call an emergency plumbing repair service to have the water lines repaired.
Leaking Water Pipes
Another problem that can develop from repeated freezing and thawing of water pipes is a water leak. Leaks tend to start at pipe connections. At first, they might be a slow drip, but, over time, these can develop into a slow running trickle of water.
Finding leaks can be difficult because part of the plumbing lines inside the home are under flooring or inside walls you cannot access. If you hear dripping or running water, and all faucets are shut off and the toilet wasn’t recently flushed, you probably have a leaking water pipe.
Another sure-fire test to check for leaks is to read your water meter and wait two hours. During this time, do not flush the toilet or turn on any faucets. At the end of two hours, check your meter, and, if it has moved, you have a water leak.
If you have a leak, shut off the water main and call your plumber. Leaving the water on will only allow more water damage to occur inside your home.
Sewage Backing Up Into Drains/Toilets
If you notice sewage is coming up your drain pipes in the shower, bathtub or sinks, or back up the toilet, there is something wrong with the sewer line. There could be a major clog somewhere in the line, either inside or outside the home. The clog could also be the result of tree roots that have grown into the sewer line outside the home.
As a temporary safeguard, you can remove the cap from the sewer pipe cleanout access—typically a white pipe and white cap near where the main sewer line exits the home. Keep in mind, by removing the cap, the raw sewage will flow up the pipe and into your yard—yet this is often a better solution than having it overflow out of showers and toilets inside your home!
You will want to avoid running water and flushing the toilet until you have your plumber unclog and/or fix the sewer lines.
Overflowing Sump Pump
If your sump pump stops working, it will not pump water out of the basement or crawl space. This can cause water to overflow and run out of the holding tank. If you experience this problem, clean up the excess water as best as possible. Do not flush your toilet or run water until your sump pump is fixed.
Septic Tank Overflowing Sewage into the Yard
If your home has a septic tank, it can overflow into your yard when the tank is full. Stop using all water and do not flush your toilet until you can have your septic tank pumped out. You may also need to have relief valves checked and/or replaced if they were blown off when the tank overflowed.
The easiest way to prevent this plumbing emergency is to have your septic tank cleaned out annually or on the schedule recommended by your plumbing and septic service company. The frequency of septic tank service will also depend on the size and capacity of the tank.
Clogged drains can become an emergency when they keep occurring on a regular basis. There can be all sorts of reasons for the clogs, including:
- Inappropriate Items Flushed in Toilets
- Inappropriate Items Put in the Garbage Disposal
It is highly recommended to keep a plunger on hand to address clogged drains. Plungers will do a more effective job that is environmentally friendly at removing the clog, compared to chemical-based drain clog removal products. Not to mention, these liquids may be ineffective for certain clogs and can damage certain types of plumbing lines!
If you have been removing clogs with a plunger, but they keep returning, you probably need to get your drain pipes cleaned. Grease, soap, hair, and other debris can build up inside the pipes, and the only way to get it out is with a professional plumbing pipe cleaning service.
Water Heater Problems
If you have a tank-based water heater, you need to be prepared for a variety of emergency plumbing problems. Fortunately, your water heater will provide early warning signals that something major is about to go wrong. Looking for and listening for these signs could help avoid having to place an emergency service call in the middle of the night.
- Popping, Snapping, or Clicking Sounds: This early warning sign lets you know there is sediment inside the water tank. You may be able to avoid having to replace the tank by having it professionally flushed and cleaned.
- Rusty Colored Hot Water: If your cold water is clear, but your hot water is rusty, this means the tank is rusting inside. If you ignore this problem, it can eventually lead to other problems. For instance, if a big piece of rust gets trapped inside hot water lines, it can create a clog.
- Water Leaks Out Around the Tank: If you notice water around the base of the water tank or in the overflow pan under it, it is probably leaking. Leaks are not good. Not only are you wasting water, you are losing hot water. This means your tank will run more often to heat water and increase your gas or electric bill, too!
- The Water Is Warm but Not Hot: This means the heating elements inside the tank are failing or covered in scale. If this is all that is wrong with the water heater, you can have the heating elements replaced with new ones.
- You Hear Water Boiling Inside the Tank: This problem is serious and dangerous. You should shut off the breaker switch to the hot water heater so it stops heating the This problem can occur when the heating elements do not shut off. Boiling water inside the tank creates pressure, and the tank could blow up.
You will want to stay clear of the area where the tank is located and put in an emergency call to your plumbing service right away. DO NOT attempt to release the pressure yourself using the relief valve. You could end up with serious injuries and burns and risk the tank blowing up.
If you encounter any of the above problems, it is important to get it resolved as quickly as possible by calling a qualified plumbing service in your area. Ignoring the problems will not make them go away and could result in more costly repairs.
For plumbing emergencies, septic tank and septic system service, and other plumbing repair services, please feel free to contact A+ Services at (360) 491-2900 today! We offer 24/7 emergency services in the Olympia and Puget Sound area.