Burst water pipes, gas leaks, blocked toilets… the list could go on for emergency plumbing calls! Generally, if you have one of these situations, your immediate reaction is to call your local emergency plumber, and rightly so! But what can you do while you wait for them to try and minimise the damage?
This will all be dependent on the problem that you have, for example, whilst isolating your water will stop a water leak, it won’t help you if the puddle forming in your yard is from your sewer and not your water service. So, here are our top tips for what you should do in a plumbing emergency.
A burst water pipe or leak can lead to costly damages, especially if it results in flooding either internally or externally.
If the source is not isolated in a timely manner, your plumbing won’t be the only thing needing repair; you will also have to factor in any repairs or damage control to flooring, walls and furniture.
Depending on the location of the leak, you may need to isolate the entire water service to your home or you may be able to isolate certain fixtures. If the leak is quite bad, we recommend isolating the water at your meter immediately, you can then investigate to see if there are any other isolation points.
Your water meter is usually located near your property boundary and will have an isolation tap or valve installed. Switch this off to stem the flow of water but be aware that this will isolate the water to your entire property, so you will be unable to use any water until your plumber arrives. You may be able to work around this if there is a separate isolation valve to the water leak. These can be found at toilets, underneath sinks or basins, or at your hot water system. Once this valve is isolated, you should be able to turn the water back on at the main valve.
A gas leak is not something to take lightly as it can grow to be very dangerous, very quickly.
Your immediate response, even before calling the emergency plumber, should be to extinguish any naked flames in the area and isolate the gas supply straight away.
Depending on if you have LPG or natural gas, you will need to isolate at either the gas bottle or gas meter. Avoid turning on any lights or electrical appliances. Once you then have an emergency plumber on the way, open all of the doors and windows to ventilate the gas and move your family and pets to a safe space away from the leak.
If the gas leak appears to be coming from the gas meter, or from the inlet pipework from the street to your meter, call the Jemena Emergency Response Service on 131 909.
A badly blocked sewer is often a problem that can’t wait. It means no toilet, no shower, no kitchen (those dishes will have to wait!) and in worse cases, it ends in sewer overflow in your yard. To prevent such an awful clean up and lingering smell, you are best to get an emergency plumber out at the first sign of a blockage.
Whilst you may be tempted to try and use drain chemicals, in solid blockages this can often make the situation more dangerous for both yourself and your emergency plumber when they arrive. If it appears that the blocked drain isn't an emergency, you can read through this DIY guide on how to clear a blocked drain.
In some cases, the cause for your blocked sewer may be nothing to do with your own house lines. You should check your sewer shaft, which connects your house lines to the sewer mains, to see if this is full or overflowing. To do this, you may need to remove the lid, however, if you feel any pressure you should stop immediately and leave the lid where it is. In this instance, your first call should be to Hunter Water, as it is likely the sewer mains that are blocked.
An emergency plumbing issue is something that no one will ever want, however the chances are that everyone will experience it at some point in their life. Be prepared, keep your emergency plumbers contact number in your phone or on an easily accessible emergency list in the house. They can always walk you through the safest method of isolating the problem over the phone while you wait for them to arrive.
Remember that timing is key and any delays in calling your emergency plumber can result in further damage and increased costs.