Disasters can strike at any time, and your plumbing system is no exception. Burst pipes, frozen pipes, catastrophic leaks, and plenty of other issues can send you scrambling to stop the problem so you can evaluate and take action. However, if you don’t know how to handle an emergency or have a plan in place, you could make a mistake that could prolong the problem or even make things worse. To help you be better prepared for the event of a plumbing-related emergency, this blog will discuss four simple steps you can follow for a safer, swifter, and more effective plan of action.
Evacuate Any Impacted Persons
The first thing you should do in any emergency is get anyone who might be impacted by the issue out of your home. This is crucial for any plumbing problem but is monumentally important for gas leaks and other issues with your gas lines. Because natural gas is toxic when ingested in higher quantities, prolonged exposure to natural gas in the air can be devastating.
However, that doesn’t mean you can take it easy when it comes to water line problems as well. If you have a burst pipe that’s spewing water into your home, an area can quickly become flooded, cold, and slippery. Likewise, water can weaken structural materials, making a home potentially dangerous. Therefore, it’s vital to get anyone who might be impacted by your plumbing problem out and then proceed to take further action. Your safety should always be of the utmost importance.
Shut Off Your Water
The second action you should take is to shut off your water (or gas, in the event of a gas problem). This is actually easier to do than you might think—every home is equipped with an emergency shutoff valve that is typically located near the front of your home. In most cases, it’s either in your garage on an exposed plumbing line (particularly in older homes that have been fully copper repiped), or it is located under a plastic cover somewhere on the side of your home that faces the street. Simply pull off the cover and you should see a small handle that you turn clockwise to close off the flow of water to your home. If you have a major leak, this should stop it almost instantly.
Locate the Problem
If you aren’t aware of where the problem is in your home, now would be the time to locate it so long as your home is safe to enter. This should give you an opportunity to try and see if you can find the problem for yourself. In some cases, you might actually know where the problem is, but maybe not what caused it and what extent of repairs you might need. Once the urgent issue is dealt with, this gives you an opportunity to really evaluate your situation and plan how to proceed. If you have serious or significant flooding, shut off the power to your home before re-entering as well, as live electrical equipment mixed with floodwaters could be a recipe for disaster.
If you had a serious gas leak, do not re-enter your home. Because carbon monoxide levels are high, you should not re-enter your home until you have been given the all-clear by emergency services or by your local gas utility. These trained professionals have the safety equipment and training to enter your home during a gas problem and locate the leak for you. At this point, you should give them a call—many gas companies will actually come to your home and check for leaks for free.
Call a Pro for Help
Finally, once you know where your issue is and that your home is safe to enter again, you can call a pro for help and get started on your repair and cleanup. First, after taking lots of pictures and thoroughly documenting what has been lost or damaged (you will want this for insurance purposes), if your home has been impacted by flooding, work on allowing the water to drain out. Then call both a plumber for a repair and a restoration company to help you with the drying and mold remediation process.
For gas leaks, once a leak is confirmed by the gas company or emergency services, reach out to a pro for help right away. A professional plumber should be able to locate the leak and implement an effective fix that prevents the issue from returning anytime soon.If you have a plumbing emergency and need help right away, the team at Smith’s Plumbing Services is here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Dial (901) 290-1110 and we’ll be there for you as soon as possible.