Crazy plumbing statistic alert! Did you know the United States is home to 16,000 wastewater treatment plants? These infrastructures connect to about 800,000 miles of public sewers. About 8 out of 10 Americans rely on these facilities and chances are you're one of them, so keep on reading!
Wastewater treatment plants allow for proper and effective wastewater management. They play a crucial role in our society for sanitation and preventing diseases. And because your home is likely connected to these infrastructures, it’s important to know how to maintain your home’s plumbing system.
Faulty plumbing components can cause unsafe, unhygienic conditions. Not to mention, these repairs can hurt your wallet if neglected for too long. That’s why you should know when to call for an emergency plumber!
But what exactly makes up a plumbing emergency? We're glad you asked! Our guide covers the most critical signs of plumbing emergencies that indicate when you should call for an emergency plumber.
Crazy plumbing statistic alert, the sequel: Household plumbing leaks waste of over 1 trillion gallons of water in the United States every year! These leaks are often small and detectable and should be repaired right away!
Common Leaks to Look For:
Water Heater Tanks
*Note: some toilets will flow continuously, which can be harder to identify.
Leaks like these can be a sign of a burst water supply line. Ignoring them could waste a lot of water and cause significant mold/water damage. Depending on the size, a burst pipe can release gallons of water non-stop. For instance, a half-inch pipe can let out 50 gallons per minute (GPM), while it's 3,400 GPM for a four-inch one. That can add up quickly!
Another tell-tell sign of a burst water pipe is hearing running water or specific sounds in your walls. If you’re hearing any of the following it’s a strong indication that you have a burst water pipe.
Common Sounds to Listen For:
Running water (when you’re not using a plumbing fixture)
Hissing/Gurgling Inside Walls
Another clue of a burst water line is significantly low water pressure. This can be due to the water draining out of the damaged pipe instead of traveling to your fixtures. If you suspect you have a burst water line, turn off the water at your main shut-off valve. This mechanism is often at the front side of most homes, on a pipe coming from the ground and into the house.
If any of these things are going on in your home, be sure to call an emergency plumber once you've turned off the valve (or if you can't find it). Most emergency plumbers are open 24 hours a day for situations just like this.
Drains aren’t meant to clog. If you’re experiencing frequent and lasting clogs in your home, then this section is for you! Clogged fixtures (e.g., slow-draining sinks) are signs of blocked or damaged sewer lines. The same goes if your toilets take forever to flush. Take it from us, these aren’t problems you want to ignore. If gone unresolved your drains and toilets can start backing up.
If we could leave you with any words of wisdom in this guide it would be: “don't use chemical drain cleaners!” It’s tempting to try these, we know, but oftentimes they do more harm than good. They’re a health hazard, posing severe poisoning risks and their potent ingredients can also corrode your pipes and make them more likely to burst in the future. Say it with us now, “don’t use chemical drain cleaners!”
So, call a plumber rather than reach for that chemical drain cleaner! They will perform a plumbing inspection to determine where the clogs are. They will then unclog and clean the affected pipes so that you can stop worrying about sewer backups. For future prevention of severe and multiple clogs, schedule regular plumbing maintenance. These strategies can help prevent clogs, backups, leaks, and burst pipes in the first place.
Unfortunately, water supply lines aren't the only things that can burst. Sewer line components have also been known to cause significant headaches for homeowners. This is especially true when severe blockages in drain pipes accumulate. These clogs can cause pressure to build and eventually rupture the sewer line.
Clogged drains are not the only nemesis to your sewer line; so is that beautiful tree in your front yard. Tree roots are notorious for rupturing pipes by growing around or into them. Some roots are strong enough to break plumbing components completely.
Tree root intrusion in a sewer line can release untreated wastewater into your lawn. This can make your plants appear "greener," as wastewater contains nitrogen and phosphorus. While both elements are natural fertilizers, untreated sewage is dangerous. It can contaminate the soil, groundwater and attract pests and vermin, including mice and rats.
A damaged sewer pipe is an emergency plumbing problem since it can release sewage into your home, causing harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Direct contact with contaminated surfaces can lead to illnesses. At the very least, sewage in your home can cause a foul smell.
Call an emergency plumber for this and other severe sewer woes, such as massive clogs, burst pipes, or collapsed lines.
Any water heater leak should be considered an emergency plumbing service. Water Heaters can leak from the top of the tank, the pressure relief valve, the tank itself, and the drain valve at the bottom. The hotter the water leaking, the more serious the issue might be.
Most homeowners need to flush and drain their water heaters regularly. This effort will help prevent sediment buildup caused by hard water in your tank. Please take this maintenance step to avoid a leak. Once your tank leaks, it's too late to save it.
Hard water is high in calcium, iron, and magnesium. Over time, these minerals can form limescale on a tank's bottom and walls and rust its valves. Many cities in Arizona, including Phoenix and Tucson, have naturally hard water.
Schedule your water heater for regular, professional maintenance. This includes annual flushing, draining, and complete system safety checks. So, you can rest assured your water heater is both fully operational and safe.
Gas leaks are also plumbing emergencies associated with gas water heaters. Like sewage backups, a leaky gas line can make your home smell like rotten eggs. In the case of a gas leak, you may also hear a hissing sound near the gas pipe connected to your water tank.
The rotten egg smell of gas or propane is from a chemical known as mercaptan. This addition is crucial to making gas leaks easier to identify. Mercaptan is harmless, but gas or propane isn't, especially at high levels.
If you notice those odors near your water heater tank, please turn off the gas supply valve ASAP. Then, open as many doors and windows as possible as you immediately leave your home. This can help the gas escape your house instead of building up and potentially exploding.
Also, please ensure every household member, including pets, goes outside. Natural gas or propane are both simple asphyxiants, meaning they displace oxygen. If inhaled continuously and at high doses, they can cause suffocation.
Then, from the safety of the outdoors, call your gas provider and an emergency plumber. They must inspect your gas supply and appliances and conduct needed repairs first. You should only go back inside after they tell you it's safe.
Heads up! Is there a stain on your ceiling? Ceiling stains indicate a moisture problem from hidden plumbing leaks. Depending on the leak source, they often start yellowish but can also be dark brown. They also form a halo-like shape that, regardless of the color, is unsightly.
Wall stains are similar in color but look like ugly, dried streaks. They may not be too visible on dark-colored walls. However, the water-damaged area may feel spongy or soft if the leak has existed for some time. Leak-damaged sections in ceilings and walls may also swell, warp, or sag. They can either look like they're puffing out or about to sink and cave in.
Along with those signs are stale or moldy smells. These unpleasant odors are due to molds, which can start growing on damp surfaces in 24 to 48 hours. They can keep growing as long as there's a source of moisture and nutrients (e.g., the wood in your ceilings and walls).
If you can hear water running somewhere, even though no one is using any, you will have a plumbing leak. You must address this ASAP; otherwise, it will continue to cause water and mold damage.
Hidden leaks could be an emergency if they're big enough to release loads of water. If not fixed promptly, they can cause ceilings or walls to drip water or collapse. Contact a local emergency plumber before any of these dangers occur.
When it comes to plumbing emergencies, there's no time to waste. Remember, your peace of mind and the safety of your home depend on swift and reliable action.
At Parker & Sons, we genuinely care about your needs. We understand that plumbing emergencies can be overwhelming and disruptive. That's why we make it our priority to respond quickly and efficiently, providing timely solutions to get your plumbing back in working order. Our 24/7 emergency services mean that help is just a phone call away, day or night.