Plumbing emergencies can strike at any time of day on any day of the year. The good news is that Ace Plumbing is on call with 24/7 emergency plumbing service. But what can you do between the time you place the call and when we arrive? A lot more than you might think.
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Before You Have An Emergency
The first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the many shutoff valves in your home. Your sinks and toilets each have shutoff valves (one for your toilet, two for sinks and showers since they handle both hot and cold water). But you’re not done yet. Think of all the other stuff in your home that uses water, including your washing machine, dishwasher, and perhaps even your refrigerator. Locate the shutoff valves on those items, too. Next, make a list noting where the valves are, and keep it somewhere easy to remember. We’re only human, and it’s easy to forget where these things are when adrenaline’s running high.
When An Emergency Happens
If you can identify the source of the leak, shut the water off at the source. A backed-up toilet, a broken outdoor spigot, a fridge that’s on the fritz, or a sink that’s suddenly broken doesn’t require the water to be shut off at the main.
If you’re not sure of the source of the leak, or if there’s a burst pipe, shutting off the main water supply is your best and safest bet. At the main, you’ll find either a gate valve (a round valve that needs to be turned clockwise for several revolutions to shut off) or a ball valve (which just needs to be turned 90 degrees). If the valve sticks, don’t force it. If it won’t shut all the way, just get it shut as well as you can — a slow leak is no picnic, but it’s better than the alternative.
Finally, if you’re dealing with an appliance, make sure it’s unplugged. And if you ever have to shut off the water main, make sure you shut down your water heater properly (either by cutting power from the breaker for a gas model, or by shutting off the gas supply), since the heat and pressure buildup can cause you other unwelcome problems.
A Word About Electricity
Water and electricity don’t mix. If you’ve got a leak close to an outlet or circuit breaker, there’s a risk of fire — and worse. As well as water conducts electricity, there’s something else that conducts it even better: you. The moisture and electrolytes in the human body make it an ideal conductor, and make you highly susceptible to burns, injury, or death. So please, be extra careful. Switch off power to the area with the leak. If the leak is in your basement or crawlspace close to appliances and your breaker box, a bit more care is called for. Look for standing water, and if you see any, don’t attempt to shut off the power at the breaker box. Instead, call SMUD at (888) 456-7683 so power can be cut at the meter.
An Ounce of Prevention
It’s bad enough when a plumbing emergency happens and you’re there to catch it and respond. But what if you’re in another town or state altogether? Nobody wants to return home to a flooded and severely damaged home. So if you’re going out of town for a few days or longer, it’s not a bad idea to shut the water main while you’re gone, opening it back up (and running the taps for a minute) when you return. We also suggest giving shutoff valves a gentle workout every now and then (along with a bit of WD-40), since the last thing you want is a valve that’s rusted open when you desperately need it shut.
Our favorite projects are the new installations, whether it’s something simple like a toilet or something as complex as a new water heater or HVAC system. But we’re aware that life has a way of throwing curveballs, which is why Ace Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning is always here for you with emergency plumbing, heating, and HVAC service. Never hesitate to call us!