Blocked drains, clogged toilets, and pipe leaks — these are just some of the plumbing issues that homeowners have to deal with. It’s always best to let professionals do the job, but you’ll never know when a plumbing emergency will strike.
If the problem is urgent and the plumbing company can’t get to you in time, here are some quick, DIY plumbing repair solutions you can apply to mitigate damage to your property.
Make Your Own Plumbing Emergency Kit
Always be ready for a plumbing emergency with these handy items:
*5 gal. bucket – Keep all your plumbing emergency tools in a 5 gal. bucket, which also conveniently catches water when fixing leaks. You can hang a tool caddy on the rim of the bucket to keep your tools organized.
*A plunger. There are different types of plungers designed for different plumbing emergency situations: sink plunger (works best on flat surfaces), toilet plunger (has a fold-out flap in the force cup that fits in most drains), accordion plunger (has a small force cup made for toilet drains, effective but limited use), and taze plunger (for large pipes, best used by professional plumbers). “The Spruce” recommends the toilet plunger for all-around use.
*Slip-joint or tongue-and-groove pliers – These are versatile, good for gripping objects, and inexpensive, which make them a valuable tool for your emergency plumbing tool kit. Slip-joint pliers are adjustable through a bolt that controls the width of the pliers’ jaws.
*Adjustable wrench – Also called an adjustable crescent or spanner, an adjustable wrench is good for screwing or twisting off caps, nuts, bolts, elbows, faucets, and pipes. The width of its jaws can also be adjusted through a screw on the wrench’s head.
*A multi-bit screwdriver – A multi-bit screwdriver has detachable tips with different screw heads (slotted, crosshead, Torx, square head, and more). It’s useful for fastening and loosening different types of screws. It eliminates the need to carry around a set of screwdrivers, saving yourself space and reducing the weight of your plumbing emergency kit.
*A set of hex keys or Allen wrenches – A hex key is used to fasten hex head cap screws (screws with hexagonal heads). Unlike most wrenches, it doesn’t have a bulky handle and is L-shaped, which makes it handy for fixtures that are hard to work on, such as faucets and garbage disposals. Hex keys come in different sizes. To know which one fits your job at hand, look at the size of the screw you’re dealing with. “Hunker” advises to first try the medium-sized wrench in your set, and move up or down in size to find the right fit.
*2 tapes (duct tape and leak sealing tape) – These can help stop leaks or patch up broken pipes and other plumbing apparatus before professional plumbers arrive. Use Teflon tape for threaded joints (parts connected using threads and other fasteners).
*Blind caps – These come in handy when closing a broken valve. Blind caps are fastened externally to pipes through solvent welding (chemical fusion) or through female internal threads (grooves or serration inside the cap).
*Paper towels or rags – Paper towels, rags, and other absorbent materials are needed to clean up leaks.
*Drain auger (optional) – Also called a drain snake, a drain auger is used to unclog drains. This one might be too big to fit in your plumbing emergency kit/bucket, but it’s useful to have around if you have a particularly difficult clog to deal with. It’s your next option if you’ve already tried using a plunger. A drain auger is made up of a coiled metal wire that can be rotated with a crank. The coil breaks up and lifts the clogged substances.
Home Plumbing Tips
Turning off Water Fixtures
*Locate your main water shut-off valve so you can turn it off during a leak.
*Learn how to turn off your water heater. For gas water heaters, switch them to “pilot.”
*Water fixtures have isolation valves that you can switch off to stop water supply exclusively to that site. If you shut off an isolation valve while repairing a leak, the rest of the house outside the area with the plumbing issue will still be supplied with water. To ensure that your isolation valves still work, shut them off at least once a year even if you haven’t experienced any leaks.
*To reduce stress on the plumbing or pipes, fasten two wrenches going to opposite directions (this technique is called “backing off”).
*Use slip-joint pliers to unfasten collar nuts (nuts with a wide flange or ridge) on a drain line.
*To temporarily fix a leak caused by a broken water supply tube, use a blind cap.
*Leaks may also be caused by weakened ferrules (metal or plastic bands that provide support and strengthen tubes) on a water supply tube. If this is the case, use Teflon tape before you have it fixed by a professional plumber.
*Temporarily cover up cracks in a pipe with duct tape or leak sealing tape.
*Use a cup or sink plunger for small drains, like those found in bathtubs, showers, and toilet sinks. Use a force cup or accordion plunger for drains that need extra pressure or force, like those found in toilet bowls.
*For faster unclogging of a kitchen sink with dual drainage, plug up one drain with a plunger while you apply force on another with a cup or sink plunger.
*If your bathtub is clogged, unfasten the chrome cap to reveal the drain. This will allow you to see the clog clearly. Similar to unclogging kitchen sinks with dual drainage, plug up the bathtub overflow drain with a plunger while applying force on the main drain with another plunger.
4 Essential Steps to Do in a Plumbing Emergency
Follow these 4 steps during a plumbing emergency to avoid more damage to your property.
1.Turn off the water.
At the first indication of a leak or a plumbing issue, turn off your water supply to avoid water wastage and more damage. When left unaddressed, even a small leak can cause a thousand dollars’ worth of damage, so it’s best to nip it in the bud.
If you can identify the concerned water fixture, such as faucet or shower, shut off the isolation valve connected to it. If you can’t find the isolation valve or if the leak still persists even after you’ve turned off the isolation valve, switch off the main shut-off valve to your property. This is usually located next to the house’s water meter.
2.Evaluate the degree of damage.
Before calling a professional plumber, try to estimate how much damage your plumbing took. When contacting your plumber over the phone, give as much useful information you can about the problem. This will help them prepare the right tools and equipment.
3.Contact your water supplier.
Check-in with your water provider. You may not be entirely responsible for the repairs needed. If your main sewage is clogged or your main water line is defective, your water supplier may provide a plumber to do the necessary repairs.
4.Hire professional plumbers.
Call an emergency plumber near you, especially one that offers 24/7 plumbing services. DIY plumbing repair is best done as a temporary fix. Without enough knowledge and training, you may cause further damage and accrue additional costs for repair. Trust a skilled, licensed plumber to do the job for you.
Inform your plumbing company of the extent of your plumbing problem, as well as the cautionary actions or measures you’ve made to temporarily fix the problem.
Plumbing Authority provides free on-site estimates to let you know what kind of plumbing repairs are needed in your property. For plumbing emergency help, call us at (647) 992-7473 at any time. We provide around-the-clock plumbing services in the Greater Toronto Area. There’s no plumbing emergency too big or small for Plumbing Authority.