Plumbing EmergenciesPosted: Updated:
First. As soon as possible, stop the flow of water. Be sure everyone in your household knows were the main shutoff valve is located, and how to use it.
- If the emergency involves a specific fixture or appliance, first look for its shutoff valve and turn it clockwise to shut off the water to that fixture or appliance only.
- The valve is usually located underneath a fixture such as a sink or a toilet, or behind an appliance, such as a clothes washer, at the point where the water supply pipe (or pipes) connects to it.
- If the problem is not with a particular fixture or appliance, or if there's no shutoff valve for the fixture or appliance, use the main shutoff valve to turn off the water supply to the entire house.
- You'll find the main shutoff valve on the inside or outside of your house where the main water supply pipe enters.
- In cold climates, look just inside the foundation wall in the basement or crawl space.
- Turn the valve clockwise to shut it off.
- Professional Tip If you need a wrench to turn the valve, keep one, specially labeled near the valve so it's handy.
- If the main shutoff valve itself is defective and needs to be repaired, call your water company; they can send someone out with the special tool that's required to shut off the water at the street before it reaches the valve.
A Leaking or Broken Pipe
- Turn off the main shutoff valve to prevent water damage.
- Make temporary repairs to stop the leak.
- Get the pipe replaced as soon as possible.
A Stopped-Up Sink
- Shut off any faucet or appliance (such as dishwasher) that's draining into the sink.
- Unclog the sink using a plunger or snake.
- If the clog is total... DO NOT use a chemical drain cleaner.
A Faucet That Won't Shut Off
- Immediately turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valve underneath the sink.
- If there's no valve there, turn off the main shutoff valve.
- Repair or replace the faucet.
A Steaming Hot Water Faucet
- Open all the hot water faucets to relieve the overheated hot water heater.
- Turn off the gas or electric supply to the heater.
- Let the faucets run until cold water flows from them (this indicates the water in the heater is no longer overheated).
- Close the valves.
- Call in a professional to make any necessary repairs to the heater's thermostat and pressure relief valve.