What Constitutes a Plumbing Emergency? (And When to Call a Pro)

What Constitutes a Plumbing Emergency (And When to Call a Pro)

Plumbing emergencies can be overwhelming and stressful experiences that cause significant damage to your home. In fact, plumbing issues are so prevalent in the United States that 522,752 US households lacked complete plumbing access in 2021. In Chicago, many homeowners still use lead pipes, which are toxic to their water.

While there are steps you can take on your own to deal with plumbing issues, it’s also important to know when to call a professional to save time, money, and stress. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you identify common plumbing emergencies and when to consult a professional.

USA households lacked complete plumbing access

Pipe Bursts

One of the most common plumbing issues homeowners will face is a pipe burst, and it’s very severe. You can identify this issue with a variable of signs, including:

  • A sudden decrease in water pressure
  • Water stains on the walls or ceilings
  • Unexplained puddles on the floor
  • The sound of running water
  • An unusually high water bill

If you notice these signs, take immediate action by:

  • Turning Off the Water Supply: Locate and shut off the main water valve to prevent further flooding.
  • Drain the System: Open all cold taps to drain the water from the pipes.
  • Turn Off the Heating System: If the pipe is connected to your heating system, turn it off to avoid damage.
  • Contain the Water: Use buckets, towels, and mops to control the water spread.
  • Call a Professional: Schedule an emergency appointment with a licensed and certified plumber to assess and repair the damage.
pipe bursts

Long-Term Solutions and Repair Options

With professional help, there are a few steps a plumber will take to ensure that you have a comprehensive and effective solution.

  1. Pipe Replacement: After assessing the damage, a plumber will replace the damaged section with a new pipe.
  2. Insulation: A plumber will also insulate the pipes to prevent future bursts.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Homeowners should have regular maintenance checkups, typically once a year, to inspect and detect any issues. This will also help you to address problems early.

A pipe burst can be a frightening experience, and you’ll want to act fast to resolve any further damage. Be sure to contact a plumbing service that offers emergency assistance. At Grayson Sewer & Drain, we offer 24/7 assistance so your plumbing emergencies can be solved immediately.

Clogged Drains

blocked drains

Blocked drains can also be burdensome, and they are quite common. This is because of what blocks them, like:

  • Hair, soap, and grease buildup
  • Foreign objects (wipes, sanitary products, children’s toys, etc.)
  • Tree root intrusion in underground pipes

These blocks can be a nuisance, but there are DIY methods you can take to fix the problem.

  • Plunger: Create a tight seal and plunge the drain to dislodge the blockage.
  • Boiling Water: Pour boiling water down the drain to dissolve minor clogs.
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar: Use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to break down debris.

If these methods don’t work or the blockage continues to return, then it’s time to consult a professional. Persistent blockages can indicate a large problem, like a broken or collapsed pipe.

Leak Detections and Repairs

leak detection and repairs

Another common plumbing issue homeowners face is leaks. In fact, ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Like any plumbing problem, leaks can occur anywhere within the home. Some common causes are worn-out washers, corrosion, and loose or damaged parts. To detect leaks, you’ll need to keep an out for signs like…

  • Water stains on the walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Unusually high water bills
  • Dripping sounds or running water when taps are off
  • The water meter changes when all water is cut off

How to Fix Leaks On Your Own

While they are a nuisance, leaks can be a self-solving issue. Consider temporary solutions like:

  • Tightening Connections: Use a wrench to tighten loose fittings.
  • Pipe Tape: Apply pipe tape to joints that are leaking.
  • Epoxy Putty: Use this material for temporary fixes on cracked pipes.

How a Professional Will Fix Your Faucet Leak

If your leak is at a faucet, a plumber will assess the source and damage first. If they find that the damage is extensive or serious, they will do the following:

  • Turn off the water supply
  • Disassemble the faucet
  • Replace damaged parts
  • Reassemble and test

Professionals use advanced tools to pinpoint leaks without causing further damage to your home. Paired with their expertise and access to repair equipment, they are an invaluable resource for persistent leaks. If your leaks reoccur despite repairs or DIY solutions, it may be time to contact a professional for help.

Toilet Clogs and Overflows

toilet clogs

Sinks and faucets aren’t the only places where plumbing issues can become a hassle. Toilets are as well.

How to Avoid Toilet Clogs

Toilet clogs are a common problem and can happen for many reasons. The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent them from happening. To avoid them as much as possible, be sure to do the following:

  • Avoid flushing foreign objects (wipes, sanitary products, etc)
  • Use an appropriate amount of toilet paper
  • Regularly clean your toilet to prevent buildup

If your toilet is clogged, you can take steps to unclog it.

  1. Use a Plunger: With a flange plunger, create a seal and plunge vigorously until the clog is gone.
  2. Use an Auger: This will help break down the clog.
  3. Use Chemical Drain Cleaners: These products can damage pipes, so be sure to use them conservatively and cautiously.

If these solutions don’t work, contact a professional. They’ll have tools for more stubborn clogs like a plumbing snake or a wet/dry vacuum.

How to Fix Toilet Overflows

On the opposite end of toilet problems are overflows. This is when the toilet fills with an excess amount of water, spilling over. This problem can cause significant water damage, and pose health risks to those living within the home. It’s important to act quickly to minimize further damage.

What to Do

With an overflow, it’s important to act fast. Be sure to shut off the water, remove excess water with towels and a wet/dry vacuum (if you have one), and use a plunger to clear the blockage.

If your clog is persistent, it could be a sign of a bigger problem. If this is the case, you’ll want to contact a plumber immediately. They’ll use advanced tools to assess the damage and root cause of the overflow to give you the best solution possible.

Hidden Plumbing Issues

broken sump pump

Leaks, overflows, and clogs can all be alarming to experience. But sometimes the root causes of these issues are deeper than you may think, in places you often don’t think to check.

Sewer Problems

Due to their exposure to natural elements, sewers can be a common problem for many homeowners. Causes of their blockage include root intrusion, mainline blockage, and heavy rainfall. While you may not think about them often, sewer problems can be a health risk to those living around them. This is because sewer backups expose people to harmful bacteria and pathogens.

Due to the risk that they pose, it’s important to seek immediate professional help with sewer problems. A plumber will provide thorough cleaning, disinfection, and repair services.

Sewage Smells

Obviously, sewage is a health hazard. The smell will play a role in noticing this issue—unless there’s clearly visible sewage. You’ll know if the sewer line is backed up because it smells like sewage. Another sign of a sewage backup is a backup of water in other drains. For example, the kitchen sink might fill with water whenever you flush the toilet. As with a gas leak, this is a major health hazard, so it qualifies as an emergency. Sewage backup releases contaminants into the air, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and gastroenteritis.

Sump Pumps

A sump pump removes excess water from basements and crawl spaces, helping to prevent flooding and water damage. Yet, they can also have some issues. If you’re having issues with your sump pump, there are several steps you can take like:

  • Checking the Power Supply: Ensure the pump is plugged in and receiving power.
  • Inspect the Float Switch: Make sure the switch is moving freely.
  • Clean the Pump: If there’s debris or discharge, make sure to remove it with a thorough cleaning.
  • Battery Backup: In case of a power outage, ensure the pump has a battery backup to keep it running.

If problems are still happening with your pump or you aren’t sure how to handle it on your own, it’s best to contact a professional. With their help and regular inspections, you’ll be able to prevent problems from arising and catch potential ones early on.

Septic Tanks

Many homes are attached to a septic tank, which holds contaminated and dirty water that’s been flushed from the house. However, tanks also have their own host of plumbing issues, which can be caused by:

  • Overuse or improper use of the system
  • Lack of regular pumping and maintenance
  • Damage to the tank or drain field

Like sewers, septic tanks also pose a health risk when damaged. Therefore, it’s important to seek immediate professional help. Doing so will lead to a comprehensive evaluation of the tank and an effective solution to help avoid future problems. It’s also important to have regular inspections. These will help you catch problems early before they become a hassle.

Frozen Pipes

frozen pipes

Chicago homeowners know how cold the winter season can be, and people aren’t the only ones facing freezing temperatures—your pipes are, too.

Whether it be poor insulation or an unheated area of the home, your pipes being defenseless against cold weather could lead to frozen pipes. What many homeowners don’t know is that a frozen pipe could lead to a burst, crack, or other damage – creating a costly bill for repair.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Cold weather is inevitable, but frozen pipes don’t have to be. You can prevent or limit freezing by:

  • Insulating the pipes
  • Maintaining heat
  • Opening cabinet doors

Thawing Frozen Pipes Safely

To avoid further damage to your pipes, follow these steps to ensure they are fully thawed before you use them.

  1. Apply Heat: Gently warm the pipe with a hairdryer or heat lamp. Do not use an open flame.
  2. Listen for Thawing Sounds: You may hear gurgling, clanging, or banging of ice as the pipes thaw.
  3. Open the Taps: Once the pipes are thawed, turn on the faucet to allow the water to flow.

It’s important to note that frozen pipes often sustain some damage. Contact a professional for assessment and possible repair to ensure your pipes are completely safe.

Low Water Pressure

low water pressure

Last but not least, low water pressure is a plumbing problem that many homeowners experience. If you’re having this problem, it can indicate a large issue at hand like:

  • Leaks and blockages
  • Pressure regulator issues
  • Issues with the municipal water supply

Fixing Low Water Pressure

If you’re experiencing low water pressure, you can take steps like cleaning faucets and checking valves. However, it’s important to note that low water pressure can also be a symptom rather than a cause. If low pressure is consistent and persistent, it may indicate a larger problem. In this case, the best choice is to contact a professional plumber for assistance.

There are many ways plumbing issues can impact your daily life and home. Understanding these issues and when to call a professional will help maintain a healthy plumbing line and water supply. Be sure to adopt a proactive approach early to avoid costly repairs and stressful situations.

No Water

When you suddenly lose your water supply, this is cause for concern and warrants a visit from an emergency plumber. Even though not having water isn’t as dangerous as the other issues we’ll discuss, it’s still an inconvenience and could even indicate other issues. Although most of us don’t drink water from the tap anymore, a lack of running water is still an emergency plumbing problem. Call a professional if the problem doesn’t resolve on its own.

No Hot Water

Having no hot water can be inconvenient most of the year, but for some people, it can be dangerous. There’s nothing worse than running out of hot water during the dead of winter. Cold water can shock the body, which can be dangerous for children or the elderly. When this happens, and you have no other means of generating hot water, don’t hesitate to get your water heater repaired. No hot water can be an indicator that your hot water heater isn’t working. Discolored water is one sign, but a freezing cold shower in the morning is the most obvious sign. Another thing you might notice is that your water has a strange smell to it. Consider calling a local plumber to check your water heater. You don’t want to put this off because a faulty water heater could be hiding leaks, and there is nothing worse than spending hours cleaning up water from its tank.

Contact Grayson Sewer & Drain Today

At Grayson Sewer & Drain, we pride ourselves on providing expert help to Chicago homeowners in need of plumbing assistance. Experience stress-free, seamless, and friendly service that prioritizes you and your home. Contact us today to schedule an appointment today!

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Jeremy Starnes

Jeremy Starnes brings over 20 years of expertise in the plumbing industry to Grayson Sewer & Drain. Leading a team of licensed plumbers, Jeremy is dedicated to providing reliable and professional plumbing services to the Chicago community and surrounding areas.

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