Upgrading Your Pipes

2 Major Tips on Creating an Emergency Plumbing Plan of Action

Most homeowners plan for a variety of emergencies: floods, earthquakes, fires, etc. Few, however, plan for a more probable emergency, one of the plumbing variety.

The pipes and systems that we rely on to provide us with clean water and heat in the winter can develop problems. These problems almost always occur when we're least expecting them.

Here's a quick guide to developing a plan of action in case you're struck by a plumbing emergency:

Create (and post) a Plan

The most critical part of developing an action plan is to gather information and make it accessible to everyone in your home.  It's important to make sure that your action plan features both written and visual information. Your action plan should answer the following questions:

  1. Where's the emergency shut off valve? This valve can shut off the water supply to your home. You'll want to show exactly where the valve is located and provide written instructions detailing how to turn the valve off.
  2. Who should you call in the case of a plumbing emergency? It's important to call local HVAC services in your area to inquire about the types of emergency plumbing services they provide. The best contractors offer 24/7 services and deal with serious leak and heating issues. Your emergency action plan should list the HVAC contractor's number clearly and the name of a supervisor/owner you can refer to by name.
  3. Who should you call in the event of a gas leak? Gas leaks are potentially deadly. In the event of a gas leak you will need to call your local utility provider to report a gas leak and/or to temporarily shut off gas from your home. Again, this number should be clearly listed in your emergency action plan.
  4. What should you do in __________ scenario? Because plumbing emergencies come in many forms, it's a good idea to plan for the most likely plumbing emergencies. For instance, what should you do in the event that your pipes freezing? Providing even a general course of action will help keep you calm during a plumbing emergency and help you make more decisive decisions.

Once you've created your emergency action plan you'll want to go over it with everyone living in your home. Additionally, it's a good idea to post it in a number of locations throughout your home. Some locations to consider include your refrigerator, water heater, furnace, or next to your thermostat.

Create an Emergency Plumbing Kit

Many plumbing emergency issues can be dealt with temporarily with basic plumbing tools and equipment.

Start with a bucket. A simple five-gallon bucket is portable and comes in handy when you're dealing with a leaky pipe or faucet. You can also use it to store all the tools and equipment in your emergency plumbing first-aid kit.

Most plumbing hardware can be manipulated with two basic tools: a screwdriver and a wrench. Your emergency plumbing kit should include at least two adjustable wrenches, as well as a flathead and Phillips head screwdriver.

Stocking your emergency plumbing kit with two plungers can help you address clogged drains and backed-up sinks. You should stock two types of plungers: forced cap and regular. A forced cap works better for small drains like sinks and drains.

When it comes to absorbing smallish leaks few things absorb moisture better than a few old beach towels. Not only can they be folded easily, but they can also provide you with a cushioning for your knees when you're kneeling down to examine pipes and drains.

It's important to situate your emergency plumbing kit in a centrally accessible location. Laundry rooms, pantries, or hall closets are often your best bet. You'll also want to make sure that your emergency action plan shows the location of your kit.