What to do in a Plumbing Emergency

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There’s never a good time for a plumbing emergency. It doesn’t matter if your shower won’t drain, leaving you ankle-deep in lukewarm water, or if the water in your toilet is creeping higher because you forgot the ‘ol courtesy flush. Your first reaction may well be to panic, but that’s not going to help matters. There are a few simple things you can do to be prepared and address anything from minor mishaps to major plumbing disasters. Here are tips drawn from our many years of experience at Ace Plumbing.

Be Prepared

We can’t emphasize this enough. No matter how careful you are, plumbing issues are going to happen in every home at one point or another (especially if your guests aren’t as careful as you are). So part of your care should include preparedness.

Locate Your Plungers

You should have two plungers, a flange plunger and a cup plunger. The cup plunger is the “classic” shape and often has a shorter handle; use this for drain clogs. A flange plunger looks like a cup plunger up top, but tapers to a narrower opening at the bottom; use that one for toilet clogs. Keep them close to where they’ll be needed, and please, whatever you do, never use the same plunger for both jobs.

Find Shutoffs

Each fixture in your home, whether it’s your sinks, your toilets, or your hot water heater, has a shutoff valve nearby. Familiarize yourself with them in case you need to cut the water supply to a broken faucet or overflowing toilet. In the case of your water heater, there’s also usually a manual shutoff. Know where it is and how to use it.

Locate Your Water Main

In extreme cases — like a burst pipe — shutting the water to one fixture isn’t going to do the trick. You should know where your water main shutoff is, and should also keep it free of obstructions so you can access it easily in an emergency.

Plumbing Emergency Checklist

So let’s say you’re prepared. Now, what do you do in case of a plumbing emergency?

  1. Remain calm. If you’re panicked, you’ll increase your odds of making mistakes.
  2. Locate the source of the problem.
  3. Blockage? Time for your plunger. Avoid augers or snakes unless you’re experienced and VERY careful.
  4. Major leak? Shut off the water source – locally if possible, or at the main if necessary.
  5. In the event of a leak with an unknown source, turn on other faucets to relieve pressure in the affected area.
  6. Call a professional for help!


So, to sum up: Be prepared, remain calm, know your shutoff points, and know how to triage common plumbing issues. Anything we’re missing? Oh, yes. One last thing: it probably wouldn’t hurt to put the Sacramento plumbing specialists at Ace Plumbing on speed dial: 916-455-4548. After all, whether it’s fixtures, backflow prevention, or water heater installation, you never know when we’ll come in handy.