What are the most common emergency plumbing problems in the home?
Most plumbing emergencies are a result of letting small problems become large scale catastrophes due to them not getting attended to early on. There are some small plumbing jobs that can be undertaken by the homeowner such as unblocking a toilet with a plunger, but attempting to cure larger issues can escalate the problem if attempted by someone who is not fully trained.
How you can prevent plumbing problems from becoming an emergency
One of the most useful ways in which a home owner can prevent plumbing problems from becoming expensive jobs that require emergency call outs is by conducting a regular maintenance check throughout your home to spot any sign of leaks or plumbing damage.
A dripping tap which is left unattended is not only a constant irritation for anyone trying to sleep in a nearby room. Not only can a dripping tab be annoying to those living in the household but it also contributes to a major source of water loss.
Dripping taps can loose you hundreds of gallons of water a year which escalates your water bill as well as contributing to environmental issues of water wastage.
The major cause of leaking taps is usually worn washers which become damaged or dislodged over time. Replacing a washer is a simple job if you have the correct tools, but many DIY attempts at changing a washer can result in damaging the surrounding plumbing.
For leaks which have been left for a long period without being attended to, the valve seat can become corroded which will require a professional to repair correctly.
Some sinks use ceramic plates instead of rubber washers as a seal to hold back water. If these become damaged, it will require a more complex solution.
Reduced Water Pressure
If you notice that your water flow has diminished from your taps then your home will be suffering from low water pressure. The most common cause of low water pressure in your plumbing is a sediment build up in the aerators in your taps. Other instances of low water pressure may be the result of a leakage from a damaged pipe.
The sedimental build up is caused by the influx of dissolved minerals which enter your plumbing through the water supply. These minerals begin to accumulate on metal surfaces within your water system and create an obstacle to water flow within your water taps and showerheads.
Homes with filtration systems installed will easily collect these deposits which can be removed when you change the filter. You can also inspect your sink taps and showerheads which can be removed for easy cleaning. Soaking the aerator or showerhead overnight in vinegar is the easiest solution to removing the calcium build ups which can cause the clogging.
If, after cleaning your showerhead or tap aerators, you still experience low water pressure then there may be a more significant plumbing problem that requires the attention of a professional plumber. If there is a leak from a water pipe in your home, it can cause expensive damage to your property and you should call out an emergency plumber to attend to.
Toilet Keeps Running
A running toilet is a common plumbing problem which can usually be attended to easily before you require the services of a plumbing engineer. A running toilet is usually the result of one of the following:
- An imbalanced float
- A loose fill tube
- An ill fitting flapper valve
Most models of toilet can have these problems resolved by using a toilet repair kit. If you have replaced these elements and the toilet continues to run then you may be experiencing a sediment build up.
A silent leak in your toilet could also be using up your water unnecessarily. You can test for a silent leak by adding food colouring to your toilet water tank and checking if any of the colour appears later in the bowl.
You should be regularly inspecting your plumbing for leaks. If you detect a wet patch or puddle then you may have a leaking pipe. You can temporarily repair a leaking pipe with joint filler or a fitting compound but a more permanent solution will usually involve a pipe or fitting replacement.
If you find a leak from beneath your sink, you can temporarily contain the leak from spraying by using leak tape or a rubber sheet with a clamp to hold it until a professional emergency plumber arrives.
Slow and Blocked Drains
If you discover that your sink, toilet or bathtub is becoming slow to drain then there may be an obstacle causing a blockage in your drain.
You can use a plunger to try and redeem the problem temporarily but plungers are often not a permanent fix. You can also use drain clearing products to try and remove the blockage. Be aware that blockage products often contain caustic materials that can cause damage to the plumbing if used too often.
A good way to prevent debris falling into the drain is by installing a drain screen. You may also find that you can remove a blockage by using tweezers and a flashlight to remove larger objects that have become lodged in the drain.
If you continue to experience a slow drainage problem, you should call a plumber to investigate.