Common Residential Plumbing Emergencies

April 5th, 2017

What to Do in an Emergency?

In general preventive maintenance to your home’s plumbing, every once in a while, will not only keep plumbing fixtures, drains and pipes in good condition for a long time, but will further allow you to spot early problems and have them fixed before they escalate to costly plumbing emergencies. Whatever the reason for the emergency, it needs to be solved quickly!

A plumbing emergency is something which many of us have faced at one time or another. This emergency can be in forms of burst pipes, overflowing toilets, clogged pipes, frozen pipes, no water, no hot water, shower or tap or toilet will not stop running, boiler breakdown, drilling a hole (or hammering a nail) through a pipe by mistake, and so on! Indeed emergency plumbers report that plumbing negligence is the number one cause for stubborn obstructions in drains and defective pipes.

When you encounter an emergency plumbing situation, you can take steps to reduce damage to the minimum thereby cutting down your plumbing cost too. We service our cars once a year while we dismiss doing the same to our plumbing systems until we face a plumbing emergency by which time it is too late to undo the damage done to our home.

Clogged drains, damaged pipes, and gas leaks are the most common residential emergency plumbing situations that people summon their Salt Lake City Plumber for. The irony is that such plumbing emergencies can be prevented by us from the start.

Top emergency plumbing troubles and their repair:

  1.  Burst Pipes: Your top objective until the emergency plumber arrives on the scene is stop water flowing out of the hole. Split water pipes require fast and effective repair to stop gallons of water from causing structural and electrical damage in homes and offices. Locate the main shutoff valve to your house and close it. Turning off the shutoff valve will close the water supply to the fixtures and therefore stop the flood. Next, turn on cold water taps to drain quickly pipes from trapped water and steam. After doing damage control for the emergency, call in your Salt Lake City Plumber to repair or replace the burst section of the pipe.
  2. Water Overflow: The first step is to immediately turn off the water supply. If there is no shut off valve for the overflowing fixture, find and turn off the valve that supplies water to your house. This valve is normally located under the kitchen sink. Water overflowing onto bathroom or kitchen floors is among the commonest plumbing emergency. After stopping the water from flowing, contact your plumber immediately. While waiting for him to arrive, start mopping up the mess and move your belongings and valuables off the floor.
  3. Faulty Cistern: Water damage may also result from faulty cisterns. The most common problem to occur within your cistern is the notorious faulty float valve or arm. This means that your cistern is constantly filling up, not only causing a lot of noise, but also wasting a lot of water too. Although this may seem to be a harmless problem, it may make the cistern useless. A cistern comprises a complex arrangement of a ball cock, a float arm, a tank ball and other components. Any disorder in this arrangement will result in the cistern malfunctioning. To fix this, turn off the water supply and try to locate the problem by lifting the cistern cover and looking for damaged or disconnected components. If there is nothing obvious, call your plumber.
  4. Leaky Plumbing Fixtures: Close the shutoff valve singular to the leaky fixture. Check the fixture’s trap for debris, hair, soap scum, and food particles that might obstruct its opening and cause overflowing of the fixture. Contact your emergency Salt Lake City Plumber for effective plumbing repair. Leaking joints or leaking pipes may also cause water accumulation. In either case turn off the tap supplying the leaking fixture (bath, sink, etc) and call your plumber. The pipes and joints may require replacing or sealing and this is a job that is best performed by a plumbing professional. For plumbing repairs and replacements it is always advisable to contact a Gas Safe registered plumber since water pipes and gas pipes often run close to one another and, for safety reasons, plumbers that are not Gas Safe registered are not legally allowed to work on gas fittings.
  5. Blocked Drains & Toilets: In many cases toys or small gadgets clog toilets. Try to lift the obstruction by means of a plunger or a plumber’s snake (if you have one). If such plumbing tools fail to dislodge the clog, call in your plumber. Blocked drains or toilets can also cause overflows into bathrooms. Trained plumbers can remove these items. In some cases it may be necessary to remove the toilet from the floor to extract the blocked item. Even in cases of a blocked toilet, it is important to shut off the water supply.
  6. Frozen Pipes: If the temperature inside a house gets below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0° Celsius) it’s likely that the water supply pipes and the drain traps will freeze. When water freezes it expands 9 percent, and if there is no room for expansion it’s possible that the pipe will develop a crack. If your heat goes out for an extended period of time, make sure to turn of the water at the main shut-off valve and open the faucets to drain the water out of the pipes; this will prevent water from staying in the pipes and freezing. Avoid thawing any pipe with an open flame. If the pipe has not split yet, thaw it with hot water bottles from the end of the pipe nearest to the tap. Thawing must be gentle, never with a naked flame, to avoid thermal water expansion that too can split the pipe. As a preventive maintenance make sure your pipes are appropriately insulated against the cold months with pipe insulation. These can be bought at your local hardware store and fit over the pipes.
  7. Gas leaks: Yes, plumbers lay gas lines and repair gas leaks. We also detect leaks using gas leak detectors and by measuring the pressure in your gas lines. If you smell gas, simply evacuate the building. Gas leaks do not lend themselves to D.I.Y repair due to their deadly nature in the wrong hands. Once outside the home call in your emergency plumber or Gas Company.
  8. Imbalanced Water Pressure – When someone turns on the tap in the kitchen and the water in the bathroom stops, it is a bad problem. These imbalances are caused by poorly installed plumbing systems, and it is advisable to call a home plumber to check the lines.

DO’s and DON’Ts of emergency plumbing to save on water and money

Facing an overflowing toilet or a leaky pipe can be extremely daunting when we lack the proper knowledge on how to mitigate the emergency plumbing at hand until the plumber arrives to the rescue. With increasing water conservation awareness, more and more people are inclined to learn the do’s and don’ts of plumbing emergencies to be able to cut down water waste in times of flooding and leaky fixtures.


  1. With leaky fixtures and burst pipes the first and sometimes only effective action to take is close off the water shut off valve. This action will close the water supply to the faulty fixture and stop the water waste.
  2. Insulate pipes that may be exposed to low temperatures to keep them from freezing and splitting open.
  3. Gently thaw freezing pipes with a blow dryer but never with a naked flame to prevent thermal expansion of water that can also split pipes open.
  4. As toilet leaks are often detected in a high water bill, inspect your toilets for any leaks on a periodic basis. Put several drops of food dye in the water tank and let it sit. Come back after an hour to examine the toilet. If you see color dye in the bowl then your toilet is leaking.
  5. Try and clean out sediment accumulation in the water heater on a regular basis to prevent clogs that restrict hot water supply to the relevant fixtures.


  1. Pour boiling water down the toilet unless you want the bowl to crack open.
  2. Throw big objects, diapers, sanitary towels, or toys down the toilets. Anything that is not tissue paper can clog the toilet’s drain and cause plumbing emergencies from overflowing toilets to sewer backups.
  3. Plant any shrubs and trees over sewer lines.
  4. Throw fibrous material down the garbage disposal. Onion skins, celery, artichokes and more fibrous peels can clog the disposer’s blades and cause motor burn outs.
  5. Pour cooking fats, oils and grease down the kitchen sink’s drain to avoid stubborn blockages.
  6. Ignore a leaky plumbing fixture until it escalates into costly emergency plumbing situations that waste gallons of water and damage belongings.

You should know where your main water valve is located before an emergency strikes! By turning the water main off first, you will limit the overall damage and amount of wasted water in the event of an accident. Plumbing emergencies are tough, but with a little information, you can limit the damage by contacting one of our Salt Lake City Plumbers.