Top 7 Plumbing Emergencies And How To Deal With Them


Published on November 15th, 2021

Plumbing emergencies are probably the most common threats to your household. The intricate system of pipes, fixtures, faucets, and drains needs regular maintenance.

But even if you are an attentive homeowner or a landlord, you can’t cover all the bases. Some leaks might spring in unexpected places.

Unusually harsh weather conditions can cause the pipes to freeze and burst. And even the most well-maintained sewer lines sometimes back up, leading to a smelly situation.

1. Untreated Problems And Their Costs

Water and ice damage-related issues top the charts as the most costly insurance claims that American homeowners make. They cost about $11,000 on average. They are common, too.

In fact, every fourth of all US homeowners claims is water-related. Some of them deal with the aftermath of floods, heavy rains, and snowfalls. But most cases stem from such mundane problems as a leaking faucet or a burst pipe that weren’t serviced or replaced in time.

To prevent costly accidents, learn more about the seven most common plumbing emergencies.

2. Drip, Drip, Drip

Tiny leaks are so common in many households that people don’t consider them a problem. If your faucets are dripping even a little, you should pay attention to them.

A couple of drips per minute can mean hundreds of dollars in your water bill. Use this water loss calculator to discover how much money you waste annually compared to the repair costs.

In short, calling a plumber is much cheaper, especially if you think about future problems like rusted-out joints that can break any time and black mold growth.

3. Toilet Keeps Running

Your toilet seems to function just fine. However, it often runs randomly for a few seconds. The more severe case will be a toilet that is constantly flushing. Yes, you can still use it, but your water bill is going to be astronomical.

If you are not handy with tools, don’t open the tank and try fixing it yourself. Call a plumber instead. If you are not sure whether you have a problem, look for these signs:

  • the porcelain is cracked (possible leaks);
  • the toilet doesn’t flush as it should or gets clogged easily;
  • your bathroom smells like a sewer;
  • you’ve found a puddle of water around the toilet base;
  • you keep hearing flushing noises.
  • Your washing machine has a broken hose

You keep finding water under the tub in the bathroom or in the closet where you keep the washing machine. The hose is the most likely culprit. It’s either not connected properly or has a small hole in it.

This is one of the problems you can fix yourself. Just buy a new hose and reconnect your appliance. Don’t wait until a small water spill turns into a nasty flood.

4. Clogged Bathtubs And Stopped Up Drains

These things happen right after the holidays. You have to do a lot of cooking and dishwashing, and your house is visited by dozens of guests. Extensive use of sinks and tubs often leads to stopped up drains.

Most people don’t care much if a sink doesn’t drain fast if it keeps working. But if it stops draining at all, you will be facing a much worse problem. You can’t wash dishes or use a tub if there is a big nasty clog in it.

Also, overflowing water can lead to property damage. If detergents or other solutions don’t seem to get rid of the clog, ask a licensed plumber to come over and take a look.

5. Frozen And Burst Pipes

Ice, roots, old age, and material fatigue due to stress. These are the few most common reasons that can lead to your water pipes being irreparably damaged. When a pipe bursts, it is usually accompanied by a stream of water.

It can flood your basement or turn your yard into a swamp. To prevent those things from happening, service your outer lines regularly, replace old piping, winterize pipes and joints and keep the temperature in your basement above the freezing point.

Follow the US EPA’s Fix a Leak Week to participate in the annual events to raise awareness about water-related home emergencies.

6. Cold Showers Only

A malfunctioning water heater can lead to cold showers in the middle of January. Some of your home appliances also rely on hot water to function. Check the heater.

It could simply be too old and in need of a replacement for a better model. The tank could be clogged with sludge or bacteria overgrowth. Or you might have an issue with the heating mechanism or some of the more intricate tubes and pipes that reside within the heater.

Call a plumbing service and describe your problem. In many cases, your water heating appliance can be repaired, and you won’t need to spend a lot of money buying a new one.

7. A Stinky Situation

You can’t miss this one unless you have an extreme case of cold and a runny nose. After you flush the waste, it should go into the municipal sewage system.

But if your main sewer pipe gets clogged or broken, the smelly stuff starts coming back. Sewage backups are not only unpleasant, but they can also be quite dangerous.

Don’t risk the health of your family and call an emergency plumbing service. After the plumber fixes the sewer line, apply bleach or other cleaning solution liberally to wash away the mess and remove the odor.

Don’t forget that as a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining and repairing the sewer lateral. That includes the part extending into the street.


Most of these problems can be avoided by performing regular annual checks. Don’t wait until a small drip turns into a biblical flood. While you can solve many of these problems, including clogs or a leaking washing machine hose yourself, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

Many people underestimate the severity of these issues. Sometimes, homeowners cause more damage trying to repair pipes and water-using appliances themselves. Comprehensive homeowner insurance will cover the costs for most of these plumbing emergencies.