It’s Bound to Happen
Maybe this has happened to you. Or maybe it’s one of those nightmare scenarios that just sits in the back of your mind. An emergency plumbing problem. Water is capable of so much damage when it runs free of its normal boundaries of pipes, sinks, and toilets. It dissolves, warps, and destroys just about every surface that is not somehow protected with a plastic coating.
The old adage of forewarned is forearmed applies in this case. Tuck these quick reaction tips away in your memory and if the day ever comes that this wonderful life giving but potentially destructive element gets loose you’ll know what to do.
It happens when you least expect it. Everything was fine yesterday. Sometimes it was even working a few minutes ago. But there it is. The bowl is filling up but the drain just isn’t working. You’ve got a clog and the mess will be everywhere in a few seconds.
This emergency can be dealt with but quick action needs to be implemented. Remove the tank cover from the back of the toilet. This includes those smelly soaps the wife loves so much and that pile of automotive magazines that just seem to collect there. Reach in and close the stopper at the bottom of the tank(have no fear this water is clean). This will stop the bowl from filling any further. Next, shut off the water supply valve near the floor under the tank.
The situation is now stable and recovery efforts can be implemented. Gently unclog the drain with a plunger (no splashing). Clean any water that may have escaped. Sterilizing the area with bleach and water is a good idea. If you familiarize yourself with the basic workings of your toilet and you will save both money and headaches on this tip. By the way, you will need to turn the water back on at some point in time and make sure the clog is clear. Stand ready.
Broken pipes can result from a number of reasons. Older homes needing a minor plumbing change or even a box falling on a pipe in the basement may result in a broken gushing mess. Pipes that have frozen will tend to burst only after they have thawed. Regardless of what may have caused the break knowing where the main water inlet valve will make this a much less costly issue. These valves are not always easy to locate, especially in older home. Knowing were it is and how to access is important. Do you know were yours is?
After the water has been turned off and the urgency of the situation has passed, decide if you will repair the pipe yourself or call a professional.
Faucet Won’t Shut off
Although not as immediate of a problem as the first two, this one will still cause some anxiety if the water is entering the sink faster than it is draining. The quick solution is to access the cabinet or area below the sink and find the shut off valve to the faucet. After turning off the water a decision can be made as to replacing the faucet or calling professional help.
Clogged sink drains are very common issues that can be dealt with quickly with a minimum of tools. Kitchen sink drains will usually clog from a garbage disposal if it has one. The first step is to disconnect the dishwasher hose to the disposal if it is attached there. Removing and cleaning the sink traps will many times fix the issue. Grease, oils, and waxes from soaps can build up over time. A good drain cleaner can be used if the water is still moving (even just a little). If the clog is complete a snake may be needed to remove the clog.
Bath sinks and tub / shower drains usually get clogged with hair and soap film. Drain cleaners will usually work on these. It is a good idea to keep a eye on the health of your drains. Fixing a slow drain is much easier than one that is completely blocked and in need of strong mechanical force to remove.