In most plumbing emergencies, we highly recommend contacting a licensed professional. Pipes and plumbing parts can be a bit tricky to deal with, and serious complications or issues can arise if you make a mistake. However, when a plumbing emergency happens and your usual plumber is a bit tied up, it’s best to know enough about the problem to do short-term damage control.
Here are four common plumbing emergency issues you should know about—and their corresponding solutions.
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Dripping faucets are one of the primary suspects behind insanely high water bills. A faucet that drips once every second can waste 5 gallons of water a day, 2.5 gallons if it only drips every other second, and 1 full gallon if it drips every five seconds. That is undoubtedly a lot of water to just throw away.
Solution: Leaky faucets are often caused by damaged or malfunctioning washers that fail to form a watertight seal. Although the actual solution—adjust the washer or replace it—is simple and straightforward, it can be difficult to pull off without the proper tools and training.
Call your plumber immediately, and then set a basin or bucket beneath the faucet to collect the water. When it’s full, use it to water the plants, flush the toilet, clean the plates, etc. Water waste is minimized this way.
Clogged drains can lead to overflowing sinks, showers, or toilets, rendering them unusable for a period of time. They’re also difficult to clean, and the frustration that comes from waiting for the water to drain away—like it’s supposed to—can be utterly draining.
Solution: If you have preferred drain cleaner on-hand, a couple shots of that down your pipe can clear up your plumbing emergency in a pinch. For toilets, a solid plunger should be enough to help you out.
However, we can’t really recommend drain cleaner as a long-term solution, simply because the harsh cleaners found in almost all commercially available cleaners can damage your pipes and affect your water. If blockage keeps happening, call a licensed plumber immediately to deal with the problem.
It can be extremely frustrating when your toilet refuses to flush properly. Refilling the tank manually or—worse—flushing the mess down yourself via a bucket or basin can get very old, very fast. It’s not a very practical long-term solution, either. Your best bet is to call a plumber to get this straightened out, but what to do while waiting?
Solution: Running toilets can be caused by a number of things: a damaged or misaligned flapper valve that’s letting water through, an improperly balanced float, or an issue with the fill tube. Unfortunately, as with leaking faucets, the repairs are best left to people who know what they’re doing—even if you have the proper tools and parts on-hand.
While waiting for the plumber to arrive, try and find a way to shut off the water running to the toilet. Avoid using the toilet if you can. If you can’t, the aforementioned manual flushing is your best short-term solution.
Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure is a surprisingly common plumbing emergency that can be extremely difficult to deal with—especially if you’re already ten minutes late and you need a nice, hot shower now.
In most cases, water pressure is usually dictated by the time of the day and the area you’re in. For instance, an apartment building or compound may experience low water pressure in the morning, when everyone’s competing for a shower before school or work. However, in the rare instance that it stows low regardless of the time of day, it may be time to call in a plumber.
Solution: Before calling in reinforcements, try switching out your showerhead or tap head with a newer replacement. It’s possible that they’re clogged up, causing the water to trickle. If that still doesn’t work, call in a professional and set an appointment as soon as possible.
No one really likes dealing with plumbing problems. The inconvenience and hassle that stems from them, not to mention the literal mess involved with fixing them, can be too much to handle on a regular basis. However, knowing these simple stop-gap solutions is much better than just sitting around and watching the water levels rising while you wait for your Diamond Certified plumber to arrive.