Plumber trying to fix burst pipes with wrench

Don’t Panic! What to Do When You Have Emergency Drainage Issues 

What Should You Do During Plumbing Emergencies?

Woman on phone to plumber with bucket placed under leaking sink
Jump into action and know what to do in a plumbing emergency.

Plumbing disasters can turn into a veritable sh*tshow, ranging from frustratingly simple issues like leaky faucets to complex catastrophes such as an overflowing toilet. The question on every homeowner’s mind is: what should you do during a plumbing emergency? Fear not, we have put together this comprehensive guide on everything plumbing emergencies

In this article, you’ll learn exactly what initial steps to take in such a crisis and distinguish when it’s time to call in the plumbing cavalry in a variety of different situations. It also includes expert tips on how to pick the right team for the job and what additional charges you need to look out for. So buckle up, and learn how to bring potential plumbing disasters back from the brink of disaster.

Drainage System Emergencies: Key Takeaways

  • Disconnect the water supply in order to prevent any further flooding.
  • If you are confident in your skills attempt DIY solutions; otherwise, look for assistance from certified specialists.
  • Sewer backups, gas leaks, multiple blocked drains/toilets, nasty smells coming from drains, burst/frozen pipes, a waterlogged lawn, a broken sump pump, or having no running water are all instances that would warrant calling in a professional plumber.
  • When selecting an emergency plumber ensure they have the proper licenses and certifications required by law and offer a warranty for their work. Inquire upfront about pricing which typically includes hourly rates for labor and trip fees, as well as any other additional costs.
Professional plumber at the door
Check all additional callout costs before a plumber appears at the door!

Emergency Drainage: What to Do When You Have a Plumbing Crisis

Plumbing crises require instantaneous action! Learn what steps to take if such a disaster befalls your home.

1. Turn Off the Water

The first thing you should do when experiencing any plumbing emergency is to turn off the water supply asap to stop any additional damage from occurring. The main shut-off valve is generally located near your home’s water meter or stored inside a utility room. Make sure you are familiar with its location before you are confronted with a crisis situation! Also don’t forget to check for any potential electrical hazards that may arise due to standing water.

2. Identify the Source of the Problem

With the water now shut off, the next priority is pinpointing the primary cause of your plumbing problem. Look around for telltale signs such as leaking faucets, clogged drains, broken pipelines, and running toilets to identify exactly where your plumbing emergency is originating from.

Leaking P-trap
Sometimes the source of the issue will be more obvious than at other times!

3. If you Feel Confident try DIY Solutions First

If you feel confident tackling small plumbing problems on your own, then consider trying some DIY solutions before calling in a professional. For example, unclogging a drain with baking soda and vinegar or tightening loose pipe joints is simple enough for an amateur to handle with ease.

4. Call in Professional Plumbers

If you’re unable to locate the source of your plumbing emergency or feel like it’s beyond your expertise level, call in a professional plumber immediately. A licensed expert will have access to any specialized tools and equipment required for fixing complex plumbing issues safely and efficiently.

5. Prevent Future Emergencies with Regular Maintenance

As they say ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!’ To avoid spending time and money on unnoticed plumbing problems that have gotten out of hand it is good practice to schedule regular maintenance checks carried out by a professional plumber. We recommend regular visual inspections of pipes, fittings, and fixtures to catch any issues early on as well as preventative measures such as drain cleaning using a drain snake or flushing out water heaters will keep your plumbing system running smoothly and avoid any plumbing catastrophes!

Gas engineer checking a hot water boiler
Schedule regular maintenance checks to pre-empt any emergencies.

What Is Considered a Plumbing Emergency?

Certain plumbing predicaments qualify as emergencies that need immediate attention. Here is a list of the most common ones:

Sewer Backups

It’s like a scene from a horror film. The toilets are full of sewage, and you hear the ominous sound of water gurgling up from somewhere deep within. Before you know it, it’s an all-out health hazard warzone! The culprit? A sewer backup could be caused by a multitude of issues – be it a tree-root infiltration, an aged pipe, or a nasty buildup of waste and grease blocking your pipes. If you have any sense, and value your health, you won’t touch this problem with a ten-foot pole. Get in skilled professionals who have all the necessary equipment including drain cameras to fix this mess, fast and effectively. 

Gas Leaks

When it comes to a gas leak, it’s better safe than sorry! If you smell or suspect a leak, switch off the main gas supply, leave the building immediately, and contact a plumber asap. Gas accumulating in your home can be a real hazard if left unchecked. Leaks may be caused by corroded parts, loose connections, or even general damage to pipes. But whatever the cause, immediately evacuate the premises and leave any doors and windows open until the plumber arrives.

Gas water heater and piping into box outside a home
Make sure you know where the gas mains valve is located before finding yourself in an emergency situation.

Multiple Clogged Drains & Toilets

Multiple clogs in your home? If so, don’t make the mistake of trying to tackle this yourself, it could be a sign of a wider plumbing problem such as congested sewer lines or improperly installed vents. Trying to tackle the problem blindly, much like a game of whack-a-mole, could make it worse. By leaving it to the pros, you can sit back and relax, knowing your plumbing is in good hands.

Foul Odours Emanating from the Drains

Foul odors emanating from your drains are also an indication there’s a blockage within the sewage lines. Left untreated, besides being unpleasant for anyone in your property, this could result in significant structural damage!

Waterlogged Lawn, Plants Growing Near Sewer Line

When walking on your lawn you notice an excessive amount of water and unexpected plant growth springing up around your sewer line, it may be a warning sign of a collapsed or ruptured sewage line. First and foremost, call a plumber to conduct a diagnosis of the area and assess the damage. With a proper diagnosis, an efficient repair job will be completed to halt any potential further spread of contaminants to adjacent areas. 

Waterlogged lawn due to poor storm drainage
Proper installation of your pipes is key to preventing future problems with your landscaping and home foundation.

Burst and Frozen Pipes

As winter sets in, so does the threat of frozen pipes. If you’re unlucky enough to face this plumbing issue, you could find yourself in hot water (but not the good kind!). When water freezes inside a pipe it can create a blockage and will exert additional pressure. To make things worse, when things start to thaw, the water expands causing even more stress and making the pipes prone to cracking or breaking. So what’s the solution? Call in the professionals! These experts will use their trusty pipe thawers and other specialized tools to melt away ice without causing additional damage.

Broken Sump Pump

A sump pump is designed to protect your basement against flooding by automatically pumping water out of the pit once it reaches a certain level. A broken sump pump will render your basement exposed to flood damage and should be addressed promptly by an experienced professional plumber if need be.

No Running Water

If you suddenly find yourself without running water, with no known municipal outage on record, this could either mean there’s an issue with your home’s main shutoff valve or a larger-scale problem like a ruptured water main pipe somewhere within the supply network. In these cases seeking immediate assistance from your local plumber is wise as they are well-equipped with the various diagnostic tools required for finding and fixing the issue quickly.

Faucet on but no running water
No running water can often be caused on a municipal level.

Tips for Finding the Right Emergency Plumber for You

With these tips in mind, you’ll hopefully have an easier time finding a reliable emergency plumber, without breaking the bank, whenever you face an unexpected plumbing issue:

  • Make sure they offer 24/7 availability. Plumbing problems don’t stick to a 9 – 5pm schedule!
  • Check they have the necessary licenses and certifications required by law.
  • Research online reviews for the company or ask for referrals from friends or family.
  • Check their charging structure before any work begins! 
  • Find out if they offer a warranty for their labor and parts used during repairs or installations.

How Does the Cost of Emergency Plumbing Services compare with the Cost of Regular Plumbing Services?

1. Hourly Rates

Being on call after working hours is not something anyone would do freely! Taking into account the location and magnitude of your plumbing issue, the charge could be anywhere between $150 – $350 per hour, compared to the standard rate of $100 – $200.

2. Trip Fees

In addition to the hourly rates that emergency plumbers charge for their services, there are also trip fees. These cover the cost of the plumber’s transportation to and from your property, whether or not they actually end up repairing any issues. Brace yourself, because the cost of these fees can be tricky, varying wildly depending on your location. You could be looking at rates that start at around $100 and increase depending on the distance traveled. This being so, ask about these fees upfront before you confirm a call out!

Work van driving at night
Out of hours emergency plumbers often have additional call out fees.

3. Materials Costs

Be it a leaky faucet or a clogged drain, the cost of materials will also factor into the overall charges made by both emergency and regular plumbing services. However, in emergency situations, there may be additional costs associated with obtaining specialized parts or equipment outside normal business hours or during holidays when suppliers may be closed. It’s best to inquire about material costs upfront so you can factor these into your budget.

4. Complexity Of Work

The complexity of the work being carried out will also impact pricing for both regular and emergency services – generally speaking, more complex jobs will be more expensive than simpler ones in either context.. For instance, fixing a leaky faucet will likely cost less than repairing water damage caused by burst pipes; likewise cleaning out grease build-up in your kitchen sink’s drainage probably won’t break the bank compared to replacing corroded sewer lines under your house’s foundation.

5. Availability Of Service Providers

As can be the case with other services when it comes to plumbing issues, location can matter a lot! Higher competition means lower prices. Conversely, in places where certified plumbers are as scarce as the Abominable Snowman, expect prices to be steep! 

Yet, that’s not all. There may also be a seasonal demand increase come winter with all the associated plumbing issues that come with colder temperatures. This higher demand can send prices spiraling upward, and with fewer available options to choose from.

Plumbing demand increases in winter due to issues associated with freezing water!

Dealing with a Drain Emergency 

Plumbing emergencies, a topic nobody wants to deal with yet one we should all be prepared for! Knowing the steps to handle a plumbing crisis can save you time, money, and stress. Remember to turn off the water, identify the source of the problem, and if applicable, try any DIY solutions before calling in the experts. Obviously, if there’s sewage backed up out of your toilet there’s no time to waste in calling in the cavalry!

While the overall cost of emergency plumbing services is generally higher than regular rates, it’s important to keep in mind that quality workmanship and safety precautions should always take priority over saving a few bucks. Regular maintenance and timely repairs are a good investment to help avoid emergency situations altogether, but if they do arise, it’s best to trust professionals with your home’s plumbing rather than trying to save a few dollars by taking matters into your own hands!

If you’ve found this guide helpful, please consider sharing it on social media or leaving a comment below!

Sewer System & Drain Emergencies FAQ 

Are there any common mistakes people make when trying to deal with an emergency drainage situation on their own?

One common mistake is using chemical drain cleaner, which can actually do more harm than good by damaging pipes and causing more clogs in the long run. Another mistake is assuming that all drains are created equal, and attempting to use the same tools or methods for different types of drains. For example, a plunger may work well for unclogging a toilet but could cause damage if used on a bathroom sink or shower drain.

A third mistake is not taking proper safety precautions when dealing with sewage backups or other hazardous waste materials. It is important to wear protective gear such as gloves and masks and to thoroughly sanitize any affected areas after the problem has been resolved. Finally, many people underestimate the complexity of plumbing systems and may attempt repairs or installations without sufficient knowledge or experience, leading to further damage or even injury.

Unclogging a toilet with a plunger
Knowing what tools to use when is half the battle.

How long does it usually take for a professional to complete an emergency drain repair job? 

The duration of an emergency drain repair job largely depends on the complexity of the problem and the extent of the damage. In most cases, a professional plumber can complete an emergency drain repair job within a few hours or up to a day. However, if there are major issues such as collapsed pipes or extensive blockages, it may take longer to fix.

It’s important to note that attempting to fix an emergency drainage issue on your own without proper training and equipment can often make the problem worse and end up costing you more in the long run. It’s always recommended to call a professional plumber in case of any plumbing emergencies for quick and effective solutions.

About the author

An accomplished plumber with more than 15 years of experience in the industry, David "Fitz" Fitzgerald began as an apprentice and steadily worked his way up to become a fully licensed and certified master plumber.

With extensive training in all aspects of plumbing. David is well-versed in the installation, repair, and maintenance of plumbing systems, including pipes, fixtures, and appliances, and is able to troubleshoot and solve even the most complex plumbing issues.

He loves to share his wealth of knowledge and looks forward to engaging with the community here on No Hassle Plumbing.

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