If your plumbing system is working as it should, you'll never know it's there. But when it malfunctions, it can be a nightmare. The plumbing system in your home is very complicated, and when it fails, it can take your entire house down with it.
If your plumbing system does fail, you should rush for the phone instead of for your toolbox. There are certain plumbing issues that only plumbers will know how to resolve quickly and professionally.
The guide below will help you find the best plumbers in your area if your plumbing system does begin to wreak havoc on your house. And, even better, you can call them 24/7 to fix anything plumbing-related.
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Is This Plumbing Problem an Emergency?
The first thing to realize is that not everything is an emergency. Some things can wait a few days to be addressed without risking further damage.
However, some plumbing issues need to be treated right away. But, how do you know which is which?
It is an Emergency:
Things like broken pipes, your only toilet being broken, or your kitchen sink overflowing without any sign of stopping should all be considered emergencies.
If you're in an emergency situation, don't worry. Just scroll down a bit; we've got you covered.
It isn't an Emergency:
If you have a slight clog in your bathtub or a slow drip from one of your faucets, you can relax.
It probably isn't an emergency.
Check out the guide below to see if we can help. If not, call your local plumber before it does turn into an emergency.
10 Most Common Plumbing Emergencies Across The US
The first step to take when dealing with a clogged toilet or one with a malfunctioning float mechanism is to shut off your water flow.
The water valve is located on the side of your toilet at the bottom of the waterline. Turn it counterclockwise all the way to shut it off. You can address the issues as soon as the flow of water to the toilet is cut off.
Stopped-up Sink Drain
The easiest way to fix a stopped-up sink is to avoid having a stopped-up sink in the first place. Seems obvious, right? But still, people dump things like coffee grounds, pieces of food, and other dense materials down their drain all the time.
But even if your careful, you may still have to deal with this nuisance.
You can try to use a plunger to clear the clog from your sink drain, but you might have to get the auger again if that doesn't work.
A burst pipe is by far the most damaging plumbing emergency we will talk about. When a pipe bursts, it can release up to 100 gallons of water in just 8 hours. That's not going to look good in your yard, house, or on the next water bill.
If a pipe does burst, shut off your water right away, and move furniture and other valuables away from the burst to minimize damage.
The method used to fix a leaking pipe will depend on where your pipe is leaking. If it's leaking at a joint, try tightening the joint.
But when you tighten one joint, it could loosen another, so be careful. If the leak is coming from the actual pipe, you might just need a rubber patch or try waterproof tape.
Sump Pump Failure
If your sump pump doesn't seem to be working, take off the screen and check if any debris prevents the impeller from moving.
If the impeller is clear, your sump pump might not be getting the necessary electricity, or it may have a defective float switch. Or it could be shutting down due to thermal overload if it's been running for a long time.
Water Heater Malfunction
There are several problems your water heater can experience, including a leaking tank, water that's too hot or too cold, water with a strange odor or color, or strange noises coming from the water heater.
If your water heater is leaking, you should call an emergency plumber for assistance. If you don't have a leak, you can flush the water tank and see if that solves any color and odor problems. A flush could also improve the efficiency of your heater.
Frozen pipes often occur in unoccupied houses with pipes that aren't being used, but your pipes may still be at risk. If your pipes freeze, you can pour hot water on them to get their temperature up to melt the ice inside. Do this slowly, though, so you don't accidentally break your pipes.
It's often a good idea to leave water trickling from your pipes on the frigid days/nights to prevent the water from freezing inside. You could also hire a plumber to wrap your pipes with insulation during the cold season.
9 times out of 10, you're going to smell a sewage backup before you notice it any other way. When your sewer backs up, all the waste you've flushed away comes back. Not only does it smell bad, but it's a health risk to everyone in the home.
If you smell waste, you should call a plumber right away to check things out. Then clean things with bleach to make sure you're rid of that smell.
Clogged Garbage Disposal
If you're anything like me, you can't remember what life was like before you had a garbage disposal. But even though garbage disposals are made to prevent your sink from clogging, your disposal can jam from time to time.
Clogged garbage disposals are typically caused by putting non-organic material down the disposal, running it without water, or grind tough and fibrous materials like potato skins. If your garbage disposal clogs or stops working, call your local emergency plumber so they can take a look at it.
Natural gas is odorless, highly flammable, and can be very dangerous. If there's a gas leak in your house, everyone inside is in great danger. The best way to tell if you have a natural gas leak in your home is if you notice a strong smell of rotten eggs.
If you smell this, evacuate your house right away to ensure the safety of yourself and your family. If you can get to your shut-off valve, shut it off before contacting your emergency plumber.
What to Do in a Plumbing Emergency?
There's no need to panic. Your plumbing emergency isn't going to fix itself if you get nervous, so do your best to remain calm. During emergency situations like this, the outcome is always better when you stay calm and make rational decisions.
Rash action on your part can turn a simple leak with an easy solution into a significant renovation and expense. So slow down, take a deep breath, and do the following until your local plumber can make it to your home.
Turn The Water Supply Off
As soon as you notice a leak, a burst pipe, or any other plumbing issue, the first thing you should do is shut off the main water valve to your home. You can usually find this outside on your water meter.
Sometimes the water meter can be hard to find and hidden under overgrown grass or gardens, but they are typically located somewhere along the front boundary line of your property.
Turning off the water line won't fix your issue, but it will keep your home from flooding and keep damage minimal. If you have a leak at a sink or toilet, you may only need to shut off the water to that specific feature so you can have water to the rest of your home until the plumber comes out.
Turn Off The Electrical Appliances
This part can get dangerous. If you have a water leak, you need to be sure that water doesn't reach any of the electrical sources of your home.
Electricity can travel through water, so it can threaten everyone in your house. If necessary, turn off the main electrical switch of your house to keep everyone safe.
Clean Up As Much As You Can
Remove as much water as you can from your house before the plumber gets there.
If the plumber has to clean out the water from your home when he gets there, it will take him much longer to finish the job, and it will cost you much more when he's done.
Any standing water in your home will damage everything it touches.
Repair A Leak Quickly With Anything To Hand
If you notice a leak in your home, no matter where it is, you need to call an emergency plumber.
You may want to try to stop the leak with something you have on hand, like waterproof tape, but you ultimately want to get a plumber to come out and take a look at it.
If these repairs aren't left to the professionals, a small leak can result in a high water bill. Even a tiny drip can add up quickly.
Don't Use Chemicals
It can be tempting to run to the store and buy some chemicals to pour down a clogged drain. However, it's usually a better idea to call a plumber instead of trying to fix it on your own.
Some of these chemicals can damage your pipes, leading to much bigger problems in your future. Also, you probably don't know exactly what's clogging the pipe, but a plumber will be able to identify your problem and use the necessary tools to get everything back to normal.
Find The Issue and Assess The Damage
Make sure you understand what's going on as best as you can so you can explain your problem to the plumber when you call them. If you have a burst pipe, shut off your water and see if you can figure out what happened.
The more you know about the issue when you call, the easier it will be for you to describe the problem, and that will allow the plumber to hit the ground running when he gets there.
Call A Plumber With All The Information
Sometimes all you can do is call the plumber and hope he can get there soon to help you with your emergency plumbing needs. The best plumbing companies can get there within 2-3 hours.
Keep the contact information of a few of your local emergency plumbing companies in your cell phone because you never know when you might need to give them a call.
What to Say When Calling an Emergency Plumber?
Give specific details of the problem
Before you pick up the phone to call an emergency plumber, you need to be prepared.
Gather as much information you can about your issue so you can explain it to the plumber.
What's your issue?
Where is it located?
Is it doing any damage?
Have you shut your water off to your house or just the appliance?
The more details you can give the plumber over the phone, the better prepared they will be to help you, and the more likely they will be able to provide you with an accurate estimate of the repair cost.
Ask for a quote for the service call
Your emergency plumber will probably charge you a service fee for coming to your home during off-hours, even for a minor repair.
When you call them, be sure to ask them what their fee is for the service call.
This will let you know what you can expect to pay for a minor issue, but sometimes the fee is absorbed in the cost of the job if it turns out to be a major repair.
Ask for an estimate of repair cost
Once you've explained your issue to the plumber, make sure to ask for an estimate of the repair cost if they haven't already provided you with one.
Not all plumbers will give a quote over the phone without first seeing the issue for themselves, especially if you cannot provide them with enough details.
But if you can describe what's happening, they may be able to give you an idea of the costs you have ahead of you.
Call several plumbers for their opinion
How many times have you gone car shopping and bought the first car you saw without looking at any others?
The answer is probably zero.
That same rule should apply to emergency plumbers as well. Always get several quotes before you schedule your service call.
Emergency plumbers are going to be pricey, and the range in their prices can be significant. Like any industry, unfortunately some bad apples in terms of scammers do exist. Our guide allows you the best opportunity to find a reliable plumber.
Services Offered by Professional Plumbers (Non-Urgent)
Installation, Replacement, Inspection of Pipes
You may need to replace or install new pipes when the pipes from your house to the mainline break from old age or due to something damaging the pipe, like a tree root. Remember, you shouldn't only call a plumber for emergencies.
Yearly inspections of your pipes will help you avoid after-hours emergency calls, like when you notice water seeping down through your ceiling or you have strange odors coming from your backyard.
Over time, the drains in your sinks will accumulate dirt and debris no matter how hard you try to keep them clean. A licensed plumber can effectively remove any dirt and debris to prevent your drains from clogging.
You've probably seen commercial products that promise to get rid of the accumulated materials in your drains, but they don't always work as intended, and they could aggravate the problem.
Foul odors typically arise in your home due to a malfunctioning vent that allows sewer gasses to escape into your home. Or you could have a damaged drain line causing sewage to leak where it shouldn't.
A licensed local plumber can sniff out the source of the leak and create a plan to fix it to make sure you and your family are not in any immediate danger. If you start noticing foul smells or unusual noises coming from your sewer, you should call a plumber as soon as possible.
Toilets seem to cause the most plumbing issues for the majority of households. Toilets can be easily clogged or have problems flushing.
An overflowing toilet can be a complete nightmare for any of us. Professional plumbers in your area will be able to tackle toilet issues using the proper tools and equipment.
All of your local plumbers will be experienced in fixing leaks. All plumbers are trained to tackle various problems with piping and leakage.
If you have a single leak that needs to be repaired, a leak in the piping system, or a leak throughout your entire home, it won't make a difference. A plumber near you will have the training and equipment necessary to handle such problems.
Some warning signs of leaks include:
Water Heater Repair Services
If you wake up one morning and the water in your shower doesn't ever get hot, you probably have an issue with your water heater.
It should be very easy to find a plumber in your area with the experience necessary to fix your problem so you can take a nice, warm shower.
Dishwasher, Washer & Dryer Installations
Your local plumber will specialize in toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and showers, but they can also help with your dishwasher, washer, and dryer. If you need help installing any of these appliances in your home, call your local plumber.
You especially need the help of a plumber in your area when installing a washer/dryer combo because these units require a safe connection to your home's water line that only an experienced plumber can provide.
Backflow Preventers, Repairs & Installations
Backflow preventers should be tested at least once a year or when they are repaired or replaced. If your backflow preventer fails an inspection, it must be returned to its original factory working specifications.
If you need a new backflow preventer installed, it can only be done by a licensed and qualified plumber.
Installation of Flood Protection Systems
A flood in your basement could be caused by a broken or improperly sized sump pump, or you could have an issue with your sewer line. But the worse floods will happen during and after significant rainfalls that cause the city sewers to back up.
A few flood protection systems are available to you, and each option is based on your individual situation. An experienced local plumber can help you decide which option is best for you and your situation.
What to Look for When Choosing a Licensed Plumber
License & Insurance
One of the first things you need to be sure of when hiring an emergency plumber is that they are insured and licensed.
An insured and licensed plumber will have the proper training and knowledge necessary to take on emergency plumbing issues. And an emergency plumber with insurance ensures that your interests are protected if something goes wrong with the repair.
To find out if a local plumber is licensed and insured, you can check with your local licensing department or your state's Department of Labor. You can also ask the plumber for proof of licensure and insurance.
Online Reviews & Ratings
The first thing people check these days when looking for any service provider is their online reviews and ratings.
If the plumber you are thinking about calling has poor reviews online, they might not be worth your time. Any respectable plumber will have a long list of positive reviews.
You may not always have time to do this in an emergency situation, but if you can, ask your plumber for references from recently completed jobs. No plumber will give you the number of someone who didn't like them, but this is still useful.
You should ask about the project they just completed, how their communication is, and if they would hire them again. The answers you get to those types of questions will give you an idea of the type of plumber you're working with.
Availability (24/7 Services)
No one plans a plumbing emergency, so you need to find a plumber with 24/7 availability.
If you experience a plumbing emergency in the middle of the night, but your plumber doesn't have the availability to help you, you're out of luck, and you'll have to scramble to find an emergency plumber.
You'll spend a little more if you have to make an after-hours call, but be sure to hire a plumbing contractor who can provide round-the-clock services.
Warranties on Work Carried Out
A quality local plumber will take pride in their work and will have no problem standing behind it.
Make sure your plumber is familiar with the manufacturer's warranty on anything they install. They should also back it up with a workmanship warranty.
Length of Time in Business
This isn't to say a new plumber or plumbing business won't do a good job, but experience matters. A plumber that has been in business for 30 years has seen more emergencies than a plumber who has been in business for six months, so they will be more prepared to handle them.
An experienced plumber will probably cost more, but you'll gain added peace of mind knowing that you probably won't surprise them with anything.
If you have an emergency during the middle of the night, you don't want to have to wait until lunchtime the next day for a plumber to show up.
Not getting a quick solution for an emergency plumbing issue could result in severe damage that could significantly increase your home repair expenses.
Make sure you know a reliable emergency plumber that can get to your house quickly, even after hours.
Your location will also play a part in how quickly your plumber can get to your home. You should always hire a plumber that regularly works in your area and won't have to make a big trip to get to your home.
Hiring a plumber outside of your area can be more expensive because they will charge higher call-out fees and other service charges.
Price shouldn't be the only consideration when hiring a plumber, but you need to be sure you aren't being overcharged. Ask for an estimate of what the job may cost before they come out to your home.
If you can, get a few plumbers to provide an estimate for your plumbing issue. By doing this, you'll have an idea of which emergency plumber offers quality service at reasonable prices.
Professionalism & Customer Service
Skill is important, but so is customer service. When you call an emergency plumber, pay attention to how they treat you.
Were they polite on the phone?
Did they respect your home and park in the proper place?
If they take the time to pay attention to the little details in your initial interactions, they will likely do an excellent job on the work you hire them to do.
How Much Do Plumbers Charge?
The cost of your plumber will depend on the service you need. A plumber can charge anywhere from $45-$165 per hour, depending on their experience.
They may also operate on a fixed rate model and charge you based on what you need to be repaired. Some plumbers won't charge by the hour because the work involved makes it less practical for them.
Before beginning the job, your plumber will scope out the work, calculate what the parts will cost, and roll those together with other variables to give you your estimate.
Expect to be billed double or even triple the normal cost for a weekend or emergency call. If you call on a weekday night, you may be charged time and a half or more.
Below is a table showing some average prices of common plumbing jobs. Fill in the form below the table to get a free quote today from the trusted team at Networx.
*Please note that plumbing quotes and services do change from city to city. We have provided a guide of nationwide averages.
$75 – $250
Gas Line Repair
$100 – $250
Other Clogged Drain
$100 – $275
$100 – $300
$120 – $180
Drain Line Repair
$125 – $250
Sewer line inspection
$125 – $500
Shower Repair Cost
$140 – $200
$150 – $850
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What insurance covers plumbing?
More often than not, your homeowner's insurance should cover most plumbing emergencies and the damage caused by them. But many policies won't cover damage that was caused gradually, like a slow, constant leak.
How many years does house plumbing last?
If your pipes are made out of brass, cast iron, or galvanized steel, they have a life span of 80 to 100 years. Copper pipes last 70 to 80 years, and PVC piping can survive for 24 to 45 years. Plumbing going bad is usually only an issue in very old homes.
When should you call a plumber for a clogged drain?
If you have a minor clog in one drain, you can usually handle it yourself. But if there is more than one drain in your home backed up, or you can smell sewage in the air, you should call a plumber right away. If you've tried to unclog the same drain several times but it keeps clogging, you should contact a plumber.
It's always better to be safe than sorry, so you should start looking for an emergency plumber now. This will keep you from scrambling to find a local plumber when you wake up at 2 am because your toilet is gushing water.
If you use the guide above, you should be able to find a dependable local emergency plumber that can help you whenever you need it.
Josh enjoys researching, testing and diving into home improvement & DIY products. He has a passion for tools, learning new skills and fixing the everyday problems that arise around the house.