Almost every homeowner has experience handling simple clogs and other basic plumbing problems around the house, but managing a true emergency a different story. Knowing how your specific system works and what to do in the event of a serious plumbing problem is crucial in a moment of crisis. When in doubt, you should always prioritize personal safety and damage containment before trying to address the underlying problem.

Don’t Try to Force It

Plungers are great for removing minor clogs, but they can actually work against you if you use them too much. A few solid jabs should be enough to dislodge the average clog. Minutes of labor and struggling to remove a blockage could mean that it is large enough to stop up lines further into the system. Forcing a clog can also weaken plumbing fixtures or even rupture a joint, allowing dirty water to leak into the home.

Shut Water Supply Valves First

You don’t need to know the location of every piece of your home’s plumbing system, but you should always know where to find key shut-off valves. Most houses have a single main supply valve that controls the flow of water into the entire structure. Individual rooms or areas may also have local valves that you can use without disrupting the rest of home. You should always disable supply valves before confronting heavy leakage or flooding from your plumbing system.

Look Inside the System

Most professional plumbers come equipped with a tank inspection camera for any kind of plumbing job. This flexible and durable piece of equipment can also be a great asset for ordinary homeowners who want to be prepared to handle plumbing emergencies. Inspection cameras are invaluable for identifying clogs, finding leaks and inspecting components throughout your system.

Address Gas Leaks Immediately

Water damage is definitely a serious concern when it comes to your home’s safety, but a potential gas leak is an immediate threat to everyone in the house. Turn off the gas supply immediately if there are any signs of physical damage to the system or if you smell gas anywhere in the home. Homes with an active gas line should have detectors in key locations to provide warning when there’s a leak.

The difference between a plumbing problem and a plumbing disaster often depends on preparation. Knowing the layout of your plumbing system and basic response measures for potential disaster scenarios helps you stay focused and make good choices when the time comes.

By Lizzie Weakley

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.

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