What to do if you have a plumbing emergency

When faced with a plumbing emergency, it can be difficult to know what to do. In this article, we will discuss the steps you need to take to ensure your safety and minimize damage to your property. Whether you are dealing with a burst pipe or a backed-up toilet, these tips will help you take control of the situation.

Step 1: Turn Off the Water

The first thing you need to do when experiencing a plumbing emergency is to turn off the water. This will help prevent any further damage from occurring. The location of the main shut off valve will depend on your home’s plumbing system. In most cases, the valve will be located in the basement or crawl space. It may be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the location of the valve before an emergency arises.

Locating the Shut Off Valve

If you are unsure where your main shut off valve is located, check near your water meter or where the main water line enters your home. You may also be able to find information about the valve location in your home’s maintenance manual.

Turning Off Your Water Supply

Once you have located the main shut off valve, turn it clockwise to shut off the water supply. If you have a gas water heater, you should also turn off the gas supply to the heater to prevent any potential hazards.

Step 2: Assess the Situation

After turning off the water, it’s important to assess the situation to determine the severity of the problem. This will help you decide whether you should attempt to fix the problem yourself or call a professional plumber.

Determine the Cause of the Problem

Identifying the cause of the problem will help you best proceed with solving the issue. Take note of any visible damage, such as leaks or cracks, and be sure to take pictures if possible. This will help you communicate the issue to a professional if you decide to call one.

Evaluate the Extent of the Damage

Inspect the affected area for any signs of water damage, such as wet walls, floors, or ceilings. Assessing the damage can help you determine the urgency of the situation and whether you can wait for a professional to arrive or need to take immediate action.

Step 3: Try to Fix the Problem Yourself (if possible)

If you feel confident that you can fix the problem yourself, there are a few things you can try before calling a professional plumber.

Unclogging a Drain

If your toilet or sink is clogged, you can try to unclog it using a plunger or drain snake. Simply place the plunger over the drain and push down and up several times. If that doesn’t work, try using a drain snake to push through the blockage.

Stopping a Leak

If there is a small leak, you can try to stop it by turning off the water supply to the affected area and using a pipe clamp or epoxy to seal the leak. Make sure the area is dry before applying the clamp or epoxy.

Step 4: Call a Professional Plumber

If you are unable to fix the problem yourself or the issue is too severe, it’s time to call a professional plumber.

Hiring a Plumber

When hiring a plumber, be sure to choose a licensed and insured professional to ensure the safety of your home and belongings. Ask for referrals or read reviews online to find a reputable plumber in your area.

Communicating with your Plumber

When speaking with your plumber, be sure to provide all the information you have gathered during your assessment, including pictures and other documentation. This will help the plumber diagnose the problem and provide an accurate quote for the repair.

Step 5: Prevent Future Emergencies

Once the plumbing emergency has been resolved, it’s important to take steps to prevent future emergencies from occurring.

Maintain Your Plumbing System

Regular maintenance of your plumbing system can prevent many emergencies from occurring. Schedule annual inspections with a licensed plumber and address any issues as soon as they arise.

Be Careful What You Flush or Pour Down the Drain

Avoid flushing anything but toilet paper down the toilet and be cautious of what you pour down the drain. Fats, oils, and grease can solidify and clog your pipes, leading to backups and other plumbing emergencies.


When faced with a plumbing emergency, it can be overwhelming to know what to do. By turning off the water, assessing the situation, attempting to fix the problem yourself (if possible), calling a professional plumber, and preventing future emergencies, you can take control of the situation and minimize damage to your home.


  • What qualifies as a plumbing emergency?
  • A plumbing emergency is any issue that requires immediate attention to prevent further damage or mitigate potential hazards. Examples include burst pipes, gas leaks, and sewer backups.

  • How can I turn off the water to my house?
  • The main shut off valve for your water supply is typically located near your water meter or where the main water line enters your home. Turn the valve clockwise to shut off the water supply.

  • How can I prevent future plumbing emergencies?
  • Regular maintenance of your plumbing system and being mindful of what you flush or pour down the drain can help prevent future plumbing emergencies from occurring.


  • https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-shut-off-main-water-valve-4155658
  • https://www.hunker.com/12224855/what-constitutes-a-plumbing-emergency
  • https://www.billygo.com/blog/plumbing-emergency-what-to-do-during-one/

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