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What to do in a Plumbing Emergency

Plumbing emergencies are commonly experienced by people all the time. Most people panic when they notice they have plumbing problems. Some others might decide to handle the issues on their own and can end up causing more damage than previously existed.

It is important to call the appropriate emergency plumbing service when you have a problem. Meanwhile, you can assess the situation while you wait for help, and help minimise the damage that can be done to your home. Keeping the contact of a professional plumber is vital in terms of emergencies. This way, with just a phone call, help comes. Below are some emergency tips that can help you manage a plumbing emergency while you wait for help.

1. Turn off the water

Turn off the waterDuring plumbing emergencies, the first thing to do would be to shut off the water valve. Depending on the nature of the emergency - if it is a minor one, perhaps in the toilet, you can shut off the water supply in that area. If you do not know how serious the problem is, you can turn off the main valve that brings water into the house.

2. Check the water heater

Check the water heaterMajor emergencies require you to turn off the water heater. This will prevent damage to the unit, and you can do this after shutting off the main water valve. It also prevents overheating and subsequent bursting of the valve. If you have a gas water heater, the gas should be turned off first.

3. Control small leaks

Control small leaksSmall leaks, when spotted, can be easy to control. You can stuff rags or old towels in them, or place empty buckets to collect the water, or even tape it close with plumber's tape( provided you have one). Take note of the location of these leaks and inform the plumber once they arrive.

4. Open up drains and spigots

Open up drains and spigotsEven after turning off the valves, water will remain in the pipes. To be on the safe side, drain the water away from your home by opening up any spigots outside the house. This will remove the water in the pipes. If there is a clog, perhaps, you can use a plunger. Avoid chemicals or chemical cleaners during emergencies to avoid making matters worse before the plumber arrives.

5. Call and listen

Call and ListenDepending on the emergency’s nature, some people do not remember to call plumbers when it occurs. No matter how distressed you might be, always try to call a plumber during an emergency. You will get help and advice, and also the extent of the situation. You can be asked to leave your home if the situation seems dangerous. Please be advised to do whatever you are told to do by the emergency response.

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Examples of Plumbing Emergencies

Plumbing emergencies range from mild to severe to outright deadly. Knowing what kind of emergency you have is one way to determine which action to take at any point. Emergencies can range from water from an undefined source to problems you might not even know what it is about or how to handle. Whichever it is, you can put a call to us at Emergency Plumbing London for quick and reliable plumbing service. Below are some common emergencies that can require a call to us.

  • Dripping Faucets /taps

Dripping Faucets /tapsThese are quite common with time, and may not be emergencies. However, seemingly harmless situations can turn into a full-blown leak when wrenches are used on its shut-off valve. Wrenches can break the valve or even stick them in an open position.

For small leaks, you can try shutting off the water with your hands. Otherwise, turn off the water inlet to your home and assess the tap. If it's something you are familiar with, see if you can try to repair it. If you are not so sure, call a plumber to avoid more problems.

  • Leaking pipes

Leaking pipesLeaking pipes require professional help to replace or repair them. Do not attempt to try and fix it on your own using patches or by pouring chemicals down the drain. This would only slow down professional help and further complicate things.

The best you can do is to turn off the main valve into your home, leave the pipe alone and call us at Emergency Plumber London for assistance, and to check the rest of the plumbing for additional damage.

  • Extremely hot water

Extremely hot waterSteaming, scalding hot water coming out of the shower head in your house can only mean one thing; you are having problems with your water heater. It simply means the water heater has overheated. What do you do? Turn off the water heater, turn on the hot water taps all over the house to drain all the hot water, and call for an emergency plumber London.

  • Frozen pipes

Frozen pipesThis usually happens during cold winter periods. Numerous homes call-in every winter to report frozen pipes incident. If you notice a frozen pipe in or outside your house, inspect the pipe closely for broken areas or sprite in the fitting that may have broken or pushed apart.

If you notice any, call a plumber immediately. If you do not see any damage, you can thaw it out with a hairdryer on low heat. Note that you should not focus on one part only, but try to evenly distribute the heat to the entire pipe. Do not use any flame as this can cause harm to you or even a major leak.

You can prevent pipes from freezing by;

  • Insulating the pipes by wrapping them
  • Keeping your home at a warm temperature
  • Disconnecting attachments like garden hoses
  • Opening cabinets to help warm air reach the pipes in your home.
  • Leaking water heater

Leaking water heaterWater heater leaks can lead to wall and floor damage when the drip pan is quickly filled. You can confirm by checking the water basin. If it is really from the water heater, turn off the cold water inlet line immediately. In case you don’t know where it is, it is located above or on the side of the water heater.

Turn off the main water valve itself as an extra precaution, and call a plumber. Do not forget to turn off the water heater. This is dependent on the type that you have.

  • Gas water heater: You should turn off the gas line. The gas line connects to a box-like velvet at the bottom of the water heater. It is often stripped with black and yellow colours, with most valves having a red handle and an arrow indicating where to turn it off.
  • Electric water heater: This must be shut off at your circuit breaker. Some water heaters have an accessible plug which you can unplug after shutting off the power at the breaker box.

You can drain the water at the bottom of the heater by attaching a garden hose to the drain valve. That is assuming the heater is not located near a drain. If you don’t understand any of these procedures or are uncomfortable with any of them, call an emergency plumber the instant you notice the problem. They will arrive quickly to handle the situation.

  • Clogs and plugs

Some drains in the home empty slowly,and others might not empty at all, which is a serious plumbing problem. Drains are used every time, and this makes clogs very common. If your drain empties slowly, you can attempt to open it up with a straight, smooth up-and-down plunger. If it doesn't work, try a chemical cleaner, that is appropriately labelled for your type of clogged drain to clear up any build-up.

If it is completely clogged, use a plunger first, and if it starts to drain, you can go ahead with a chemical cleaner. Never go directly with a chemical cleaner to a completely clogged drain. If this doesn't work either, call us at Emergency Plumber London, especially if the clog is bringing in the water back into the house. This could be a sign of major disaster like sewage backup.

  • Toilet problems.

Toilet problemsThese are extremely common. Use a plunger if the toilet is clogged. If the plunger doesn't work, call for an emergency plumber to prevent damage caused by wastewater. If the toilet is running, you can open up the tank and inspect the different elements like seal and flapper.

You can try to fix it or preferably call a plumber to do it. If there is a leak in the toilet bowl, or on the floor, call a plumber immediately as leaks occur due to breakage and significant plumbing issues. Note that the water valve should be shut off before you do any work.

  • Waste smells

Sewage like smell that comes up when the tap is turned on, or from leaks usually signifies a problem with the septic system, sump pump or any other plumbing. You might want to call a plumber immediately. Do not attempt fixing it yourself as exposure to this can be hazardous to health.

  • Whirring disposals

A good number of garbage disposals shut off during blocks or emergency. However, if the disposal stops running, but still produces a sound when switched on, try to reset the unit. You can do this by pushing the large, usually red button at the base of the disposal until it pops out. If it still doesn't work, you can try working on it, using a wrench to turn the button of the unit around a few times to dislodge any items that may have caused the clog. You will have to call a plumber if it doesn’t work.

  • Gas Leak

Gas LeakAlthough it is not usually common, plumbers are also a safe bet during a gas leak emergency. When you notice a gas leak, turn off the gas valve and leave your home and the premises immediately. Gas leaks can poison people, not to mention that it is a major fire disaster. Plumbers, when called, will safely locate the gas leak and rectify the problem as soon as possible.

  • Burst pipes

When a pipe is leaking, the problem can be controlled and prevented from escalating. But when a pipe bursts, controlling it is difficult. This is the most damaging plumbing emergency. A burst pipe is capable of releasing about 100 gallons of water within 8 hours. This expertly converts the area Into a pool if no control is applied immediately.

Burst pipes are caused by corrosion which occurs over the years. When your water pipes burst,call a plumber immediately. Attempt shutting off the water supply as soon as possible and remove any property or furniture of value from the area to avoid damage.

  • Sump pump failure

If your sump pump is not working, try to remove the screen to be sure and check that the impeller's movement is not prevented by debris. If there is no debris, it could be that the pump is not getting enough electricity to have a defective float switch. This could also be as a result of thermal overload, especially if the pump has been running for an extended period. You should contact an emergency plumber as soon as you notice any problem.

  • Clogged drains and bathtubs

Imagine a scenario where you are taking a shower, and the water drains with a strange gurgling sound or does not even drain at all, with water gradually rising to your ankles. It is a problem, one big enough to call a plumber. It might interest you to know that the clogs are caused by soap scum and hair build-up in the drains. If you are not sure about what's happening, call a plumber immediately, and do not try to fix it yourself, so you don't make matters worse.

  • Leaking hoses of washing machines

Washing machines are really helpful when it comes to doing laundry. However, it can constitute a plumbing emergency as well. Washing machines are durable and strong products themselves, but sometimes, their weak links come from their hoses. Once you notice a cracked or leakage or even part of the hose bulging out, call a plumber immediately.

Overlooking this problem can lead to mould and rust, which is potentially dangerous. Most times, the damage is not easily noticed because the water leaked from the hose can collect under the washer where it won’t be seen easily. Carrying constant checks of the hoses to ensure there are no leaks is very important.

  • Broken water lines

Broken water linesReports of broken water lines surface all the time from different areas. Its effect, however,is not so subtle and even less healthy. Broken water lines are mostly caused by tree roots. Earthquakes can also cause a water line to break or burst. Sometimes, poorly aimed shovels are culprits too. When water lines break, the water leaks out, creating soggy areas in the yard, poor water quality and little or no water pressure.

Sometimes it can be a sewer line issue, which is quite common. At this point, it becomes unhealthy as the unpleasant odour is produced. Whatever the cause might be, call a plumber immediately.

  • Broken downpipes, roofs and gutters

Broken downpipes, roofs and gutters Gutters, downpipes and roof pipes are really important parts of every home. The gutters and downpipes collect water and move it away from the foundation of houses, thereby protecting the entire house from foundational problems. Roofpipes are equally important, because they collect water ( mostly rainwater) from the rooftops and prevent them from seeping into the building by directing them away.

When any of these pipes are broken, especially the gutter, the water pools in one areacould be dangerous. Your first call of action should be to call a plumber to correct the problem and prevent damage.

Avoiding a plumbing emergency

Plumbing emergencies can be prevented. Although emergencies happen unexpectedly, they are usually the result of abuse, negligence and improper use of home pipes. Here are some helpful tips from plumbers to prevent emergencies.

  • Avoid clogging your drain

Plumbers have discovered that most clogs are found in the kitchen sink. This is as a result of people’s effort in flushing down almost everything small relating to food particles down the kitchen drain. The common culprit is the coming fat. People pour this down the drain, expecting it to just run down into the system, not realising that the fat will only harden in the pipes and consistently narrow it. The garbage disposal should not be abused by throwing in everything waste into it. Large chunks of waste should go into the garbage bags.

Other drain pipes that fall a victim of clogs are shower drains. These are mostly blocked by the hair and soap scum. You can control what goes down the drain by getting a strainer for your kitchen sink and bathroom drain. This keeps gunk and hair from going down your drains and causing clogs.

  • Toilet safety

Most toilets clogs and leaks are caused by dumping things like diapers, "flushable wipes", dead little animals, leftover food and feminine hygiene products down the toilet bowl. The only thing expected to go into that toilet bowl is tissue paper. Anything else is highly inappropriate and can clog your toilet pipes causing leaks, burst pipes and worse sewage backup.

  • Avoid using exposed pipes as support

Plumbers have reported that some homeowners use the exposed pipes as support for hanging clothes. One thing they do not know is that clothes, especially wet ones, can be quite heavy, and these put unwanted weight on these pipes. The pipes are not designed to support any form of weight, as it can cause stress and strain on them, ultimately causing them to break down or burst. Pipes must not be used to hang clothes.

  • Use Stainless hoses

This is mostly applicable to washing machines. Washing machines are commonly installed with black rubber hoses. These hoses have been discovered to burst open at any moment, creating a sudden leak or outpour of water in the house. You can avoid this emergency by using stainless braided hoses instead.

  • Look out for leaks

Leaks can sometimes go unnoticed in houses. But inexplicable musty odours, peeling paint, or wet walls can be a sign of leak within walls. There could also be an increased water bill spike, which can indicate a leak somewhere. Note that these leaks, when ignored, can lead to bigger problems like burst pipes and increased expense on plumbing repair. Ensure you lookout or search for leaks once you notice any of the problems mentioned above.

  • Find out the location of your main water valve

Some plumbing problems escalate because people do not know where the main valve is located. Because of this, they are helpless in controlling the water flow. The main water valve is usually located in front of the house, close to or near the water meter. Switching this off during emergencies is great in combating the extent of the damage. You might want to try it out regularly, as they can get stiff during cold days.

  • Have a reliable neighbour

This is just an extra precaution. It will not necessarily be a bad idea if you have a neighbour, you can trust to watch your house for plumbing emergencies when you are away for a long period. Just be sure to turn off any water supply before leaving the house, especially if it will be for a long time. It would be a lot safer to shut off the main valve.

There are equally a few other tips to prevent plumbing issues. They are;

  • Do not try to fix any plumbing problems if you are uncertain of what you are doing. You can make matters worse by doing so.
  • Try to control any damage you notice, no matter how small, especially small leaks.
  • Do not throw the garbage in your pipes. This is a major cause of clogs.
  • Keep track of the equipment's age and try to replace them when they are worn out. This prevents stress on them
  • Refrain from using chemicals all the time to unclog your drains. This can cause serious damage.
  • Use protection systems that will trigger alarms during emergencies. This can save your entire house.


Been careful or how well we take care of our homes is never good enough as there is no guarantee that an emergency won’t occur. At Emergency Plumber London, we are one call away from handling all your plumbing emergencies. Call us today on 020 34752302 to get emergency plumbing services you can always rely on.

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