Indoor plumbing is something that most of us take for granted. So, the first time you experience a plumbing emergency, it’s often a nerve-wracking experience. The best way to cut down on the stress of a plumbing emergency is to get mentally prepared to handle one. With that in mind, the master plumbers here at Southport Home Services put together this list of the seven most common plumbing emergencies. By the end, you’ll know what signs of trouble to look for and how concerned you should be if you experience one of these common problems.

1. A Clogged Toilet

By far, the most common type of plumbing emergency is a clogged toilet. It’s no stretch to say that it’s a problem that the average homeowner can expect to encounter several times in their lifetime. Clogged toilets are often the result of things getting flushed that have no business being in a toilet. Excessive amounts of toilet paper, paper products not designed for flushing, and feminine hygiene products are the most common culprits.

You’ll know you’ve got a clogged toilet if you flush and see the water in the bowl rising but not draining immediately. Often, a clogged toilet will start out as a slow-flushing toilet, which is your chance to take action and fix the problem. Turn off the toilet’s water supply valve, and call a plumber to clear out the clog.

2. Burst Pipes

The second most-common plumbing problem is a burst pipe. An average home has water supply pipes running through multiple floors, walls, and ceilings. Although the pipes in your home should last for years, they’re not indestructible. Wear-and-tear or exposure to extremely cold temperatures can result in a burst pipe. When it happens, it certainly qualifies as a plumbing emergency.

Your first sign of trouble could be something as simple as a lack of water pressure coming from a faucet. Soon after, however, you’re likely to see water dripping from a ceiling or a wet spot forming on a wall of your home. As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, your best bet is to turn off your home’s main water supply and arrange for a plumber to find the leak and fix it. If you don’t act fast, your home could suffer catastrophic water damage.

3. A Loss of Hot Water

There aren’t many experiences as unpleasant as an unplanned cold shower. When something goes wrong with your home’s water heater, however, that’s exactly what you’re likely to get. If you’re lucky, you’ll instead notice your home’s lack of hot water when you wash your hands or dishes. Either way, a loss of hot water is an emergency that demands attention.

The main reason a loss of hot water is an emergency is that there are so many things that might cause it. Something as innocuous as a failed heating element in your water heater might be the problem, or your water heater may have a broken dip tube or a malfunctioning thermostat. If you’re especially unlucky, your water heater could be leaking or, if it’s gas-powered, have a malfunctioning pilot light. Either of these things is a condition that requires immediate repairs, and you will need a plumber on-site immediately.

4. A Broken Water Main

Although you might not know it, the main water line that serves your home has to handle significant water pressure and flow rates. Most homes have a main line designed to accommodate between 40 and 60 pounds per square inch of pressure, or enough to deliver around 12 gallons per minute to your home. As you might imagine, water mains have very demanding jobs.

When a home’s main water line breaks, your home will lose its running water. Instead, all of that incoming water will flow out of the broken pipe, flooding and damaging everything in its path. The trouble is, depending on where the break occurs, you might not have access to the valve you need to close in order to stop the leak. If your home suffers a water main break, it’s in your best interest to get a plumber to come by as quickly as possible.

5. A Backed-up Sewer Line

Maybe the worst of the common plumbing emergency is a backed-up sewer line. This happens when the sewer line carrying waste from your drains and toilets experiences a clog and can’t carry the waste out to your septic or sewer system.

Your first sign of trouble is often when you notice a foul smell inside your home. If you catch a backed-up sewer line fast enough, that might be the worst of what happens. If not, the sewage itself could back up into your home, leaving you with a disgusting and unsanitary mess. Therefore, if you have any reason to think your home has a backed-up sewer line, call for a plumber’s help immediately.

6. A Broken Washing Machine Hose

Another common plumbing emergency happens when one or both of your washing machine’s water supply hoses break. It happens frequently because homeowners forget that they’re supposed to replace those supply hoses every three to five years. When they don’t, those hoses can burst and flood the area in and around your washing machine.

Fortunately, this is a relatively easy situation to handle if you catch it right away. All you need to do is to turn off the water supply valve of the burst hose and contact a plumber to replace the broken hoses.

7. A Constantly Running Toilet

Last but not least, our seventh most-common plumbing emergency is when your home has a toilet that runs constantly. While that might not seem like an emergency, it is. First, if you’ve ever tried to fall asleep in a home with a running toilet, you already know what we mean. And if not, the first time you receive a water bill after ignoring a running toilet, you’ll understand completely.

Fortunately, fixing a constantly running toilet is often a matter of replacing some of the toilet’s tank hardware. It’s often the result of a dried seal on the toilet’s flapper or a problem with the toilet’s water refill valve. Either condition is something a plumber can handle for you in no time, and you’ll be back to the peace and quiet and the normal water bills you’re accustomed to.

The Emergency Plumber You Can Trust

After reading this list of common plumbing emergencies, we hope you’ll remember two things. First, don’t panic if you experience one of them. Secondly, you should keep the phone number of an emergency plumber you can trust close at hand. There’s no better choice than Southport Home Services. We’ve served the Wausau, WI, area for over 15 years and also have locations in Madison and Caledonia as well.

We offer a complete range of emergency plumbing services and stand ready to handle any situation. Plus, we’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can get to anywhere in the Greater Milwaukee area in 30 minutes. When you add that coverage and response time to our 100% satisfaction guarantee, we’re certain you’ll call us for your next plumbing emergency.

So, when a plumbing disaster strikes, contact Southport Home Services for reliable service.

Meet the Author
Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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