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Don’t Panic: Understanding What Constitutes a Plumbing Emergency

As a homeowner, you’re likely to encounter plumbing issues at some point. Some plumbing problems are minor and can be easily fixed, but others require urgent attention from a professional plumber. Knowing how to distinguish between the two can save you a lot of trouble, time, and money. In this post, we’ll guide you through what constitutes a plumbing emergency, how to handle it, and when to call an emergency plumber.


Plumbing emergencies can be scary, but they’re also very common. Understanding when you have a plumbing emergency and when you don’t is important for understanding how to handle your plumbing issues.


Most plumbing problems are not emergencies, but some situations require immediate attention. Let’s look at plumbing emergencies first, then we’ll discuss the things that can wait for a service call. 


What is a plumbing emergency?


A plumbing emergency is a sudden and unexpected problem with your plumbing system that requires immediate attention to prevent someone from being physically harmed or becoming ill. Examples of plumbing emergencies include burst pipes, sewage backup, gas leaks, water leaks, clogged drains, frozen pipes, blocked toilets, flooding, and water heater malfunction.


Here are a few reasons why these are considered plumbing emergencies:


Burst pipes: A burst pipe is considered a plumbing emergency because it can cause severe damage to your home and property if not addressed immediately. When a pipe bursts, it can release a large amount of water into your home, leading to flooding and water damage. This water can seep into walls, floors, and ceilings, causing structural damage and mold growth. If left unchecked, the water can also damage electrical systems, appliances, and furniture.


Water leaking from a burst pipe can lead to higher utility bills and waste, which can be costly and environmentally harmful. Furthermore, a burst pipe can disrupt your daily activities and pose a safety risk to your family and pets.


Sewage backup: A sewage backup is considered a plumbing emergency because it can pose a serious health hazard to you and your family. When your sewer system experiences a blockage or backup, raw sewage can overflow into your home, causing unsanitary conditions and potentially exposing you to harmful bacteria and pathogens.


Sewage backups can also cause extensive damage to your property and belongings. The odor and mess it leaves can be overwhelming and difficult to clean up. The water from a sewage backup can seep into your floors, walls, and ceilings, leading to structural damage, mold growth, and even electrical hazards. 


Gas leaks: Gas leaks are considered a plumbing emergency because they can be extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening. When gas leaks occur, natural gas or propane can escape from your gas line, filling your home with combustible gas that can ignite and cause an explosion or fire.


Don’t turn on anything, even a light switch. LEAVE THE HOME IMMEDIATELY WITH ALL PEOPLE. Call your gas company or emergency services, and do not re-enter your home until a professional has checked the gas lines and deemed it safe to do so.


Frozen pipes: Frozen pipes are considered a plumbing emergency because they can lead to burst pipes, which can cause extensive damage to your home and property. When water freezes in your pipes, it expands and can cause the pipe to crack or burst, releasing a large amount of water into your home.


Signs of a frozen pipe may include little or no water flow, unusual noises from your pipes, and visible frost or ice on your pipes. 


Blocked toilet: A blocked toilet is considered a plumbing emergency because it can quickly become a messy and unsanitary situation. When your toilet becomes blocked, the wastewater and sewage can back up into your home, causing a foul odor and potential health hazards.


If you notice that your toilet is not flushing correctly or if you hear gurgling sounds coming from your pipes, it’s essential to contact a plumber to prevent the situation from escalating. 


Flooding: Flooding is considered a plumbing emergency because it can cause significant damage to your home and property and pose a danger to you and your family. When flooding occurs, it can result from a burst pipe, a clogged sewer line, or natural disasters such as heavy rain or flash floods.


It’s important to contact a professional plumber or restoration company to assess the damage and begin the cleanup and restoration process. They can help you identify the source of the flooding and repair any damaged pipes or plumbing systems to prevent future flooding.


Water heater malfunction: A malfunctioning water heater is considered a plumbing emergency because it can be a safety hazard, as it can lead to fires or explosions in extreme cases. Also, your family will have no hot water for bathing or cooking.


There are several signs that your water heater may be malfunctioning, such as a lack of hot water, strange noises coming from the unit, or visible leaks around the tank. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to contact a professional plumber as soon as possible. A plumber can diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action, whether it be repairing or replacing the unit.


Non-emergency plumbing issues


While some plumbing issues require immediate attention, several plumbing events can wait until a scheduled service call. Here are some examples:


  1. Low water pressure: If you’re experiencing low water pressure, it’s often a sign of a minor issue that can wait for a service call. Low water pressure can be caused by clogged pipes, mineral buildup, or a faulty pressure regulator.


  1. Dripping faucet: A dripping faucet may be annoying, but it’s not usually an emergency. While it’s important to fix the issue to prevent wasting water, it can typically wait until a scheduled service call.


  1. Running toilet: A running toilet can waste a significant amount of water over time, but it’s not usually an emergency. This issue can be caused by a faulty flapper or valve and can be fixed during a scheduled service or maintenance call.


  1. Minor leaks: While any leak should be addressed to prevent further damage, minor leaks such as a dripping pipe or slow leak can typically wait until scheduled service.


  1. Slow drain: A slow drain may be frustrating, but it’s usually not an emergency. This issue can be caused by a clogged pipe or buildup of debris and is another issue that is fixed during a scheduled service call.


In general, if a plumbing issue is not causing significant damage or posing a risk to your safety, it can typically wait until a scheduled service call. However, it’s always good to address plumbing issues as soon as possible to prevent damage to the system and keep everything running smoothly.


When should you call an emergency plumber?


If you are experiencing any of these issues:


  • Burst pipes
  • Sewage backup
  • Gas leaks
  • Flooding
  • Water heater malfunction


Understanding what constitutes a plumbing emergency is crucial for every homeowner. By knowing how to handle a plumbing emergency, and when to call an emergency plumber, you can protect your home and family from costly and dangerous consequences. 


What to do in an emergency?

When faced with any type of emergency, remaining calm is first and foremost. Knowing how to handle a plumbing emergency ahead of time can help you stay calm, protect your home, and keep everyone safe.


In the event of a plumbing emergency, here’s what you should do:


  1. Turn off the water supply: This can help prevent further damage and flooding.
  2. Turn off the power supply: If you suspect an electrical issue, turn off the power to your home to avoid electrocution or fire.
  3. Call an emergency plumber: Only a professional plumber has the skills and equipment to fix plumbing emergencies safely and effectively.


Atlanta Emergency Plumber


If you live anywhere in the Atlanta area (Johns Creek, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Dunwoody, Brookhaven, etc.) and are experiencing a plumbing emergency, we’re here for you. We know that when a pipe bursts or your sink is overflowing, every second counts. That’s why our team of expert plumbers is available 24/7 to respond to your call and get your plumbing fixed as quickly as possible.


When you need emergency plumbing service, give R.S. Andrews a call. Contact us today and let us help you get back to normal as quickly as possible! 

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