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Basic Home Plumbing Emergencies

Article | Blueline Plumbing & Gas (November 30, -0001 12:00 am)

If a major plumbing disaster happens at home, water pouring in everywhere can do a great deal of damage before a plumber can get there. If you and your family know what to do in such an emergency, you can prevent much damage from occurring.

In any case, if you don't already know them, make a list of emergency telephone numbers for the plumber or handyman services, the water board, as well as gas services if you require them.

The first and most important thing to do any emergency is to CUT OFF THE WATER SUPPLY. Once this is done, you can take time to locate the problem and do something about it. Now, before you really have to, make a tour of the house and locate the water cut-off valves. Make sure everyone in the family is familiar with them.

The mains valve is the most important. It is usually located close to where the water supply enters your property. The meter may be attached to it or nearby. Other plumbing fixtures should ideally have their own cut-off valves but not all are that well equipped. Once you locate the cut-off points mark them clearly and make sure everyone knows which way to turn them to cut off the water supply quickly.

All valves, especially the main one, should be checked regularly to ensure they work effectively and do not leak. Valves which get little use tend to corrode and it is better to replace them in your own time than find out in an emergency that the valve does not turn. Penetrating oil can be applied to stubborn valves to get them turning again.

In the event of flooding, if there is any chance of water coming into contact with electrical components (a fatal combination), switch off the main power source to the house before attempting to deal with the water. In any case, always out off the heating source to a water heater if the tank is to be drained. Refill the tank before turning the heater back on.

If pipes burst above a ceiling, the resulting body of water can cause the ceiling to collapse. Use a perforating tool to puncture the ceiling in several places and put saucepans and buckets underneath to catch the drips.

In rural and cold regions, pipes located close to outside walls and under ceilings can sometimes freeze if they are not lagged (wrapped in insulation). If a pipe freezes, use hot water, hot cloths or a heat source such as a hair dryer to heat the pipes. Always start from the point nearest the tap and work backwards. Be very careful using a blowtorch, especially on copper pipe, as this heats the water in the pipe and generates steam which could cause an explosion.

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