There are many small home emergencies, which, if not attended to properly, can quickly become big home emergencies. But, don't panic. Below are the solutions to the most common small home emergencies.
Q: What kinds of plumbing emergencies could possibly occur?
In the case where the water leak is at a specific plumbing fixture, the best approach is to shut off the water immediately at that location. All plumbing fixtures, including toilets, sinks and basins, have shut-off valves located under the fixture against the wall. If a bathtub or shower is leaking, it is necessary to shut the water off at the main water shut-off and call your professional plumber.
A leaking water heater can be shut off at the top right pipe leading into the water heater. For safety reasons, the gas must also be shut off at the water heater; that valve is usually found on the gas piping at the lower left side of the water heater.
Q: What if I smell gas and suspect a leak?
Gas valves, called gas cocks, have a straight blade-type handle and are on when the handle is parallel with the pipe and off when the handle is perpendicular to the pipe. Therefore, only a 1/4 turn is required to turn gas cocks off.
If you have no idea where the gas leak is coming from, it is always best to turn the complete system off and call the gas company. The main gas shut-off valve is located on the inlet side of the gas meter. In most cases, this valve is on the vertical pipe left of the meter. It is necessary to use a crescent or pipe wrench to turn this valve off, again, making the handle perpendicular to the pipe with a quarter turn. You may want to hang a crescent wrench next to the main valve to avoid searching for the tool in an emergency. If you have any questions about the location of the gas main, call your gas company.
Q: What should I do about an overflowing toilet?
Q: What if I don't have a sewer clean-out?
Q: What if my garbage disposal doesn't work?
If it makes a buzzing noise but doesn't operate, turn the unit off. Look inside and see if there is a spoon or other object inside. Usually, a small object such as a pull tab from an aluminum can, apricot pit or coin is jamming the blades and needs to be dislodged. Before putting your hand or anything else into the disposal, unplug it. A broom handle usually works very well as a prying tool to free the blades from their locked position. Try inserting the handle at an angle, catching a raised portion of the cutter blade, and using leverage to turn it clockwise or counter-clockwise. If that doesn't work, call a plumber.
Q: What if my faucet is running too slowly?
Try unscrewing the aerator by hand or with a wrench. Disassemble all the parts, being especially careful to lay the parts out in the order they are removed. Clean the rust or corrosion from each part and reassemble in exact order. If that doesn't work, the problem is in the faucet or the plumbing piping system and you need to call your professional plumber.