It’s 11:30 PM. You’ve just turned out the light when you hear that dreaded noise: a steady drip-drip-drip coming from the bathroom. You briefly wonder if you should call a 24-hour plumber, but you tell yourself it’s probably just the sink. And anyway, emergency plumbing services are expensive, and your bed is so warm and comfortable… so you decide you’ll deal with it tomorrow, and drift off to sleep.
In the morning, there’s a flood—from the bathroom, down the hall, and down the stairs. The toilet supply line has broken. Water has seeped through the floor and the ceiling below the bathroom, and what could have been a relatively simple emergency repair has turned into a huge job potentially costing thousands of dollars.
To determine whether it’s worth calling in an emergency plumber or wait until regular business hours, it’s important to first recognize what is an actual emergency requiring immediate attention, and what can indeed wait until morning.
Knowing the Difference
As difficult as the prospect might be, in the above case it’s crucial to get out of your warm bed and find the source of the leak to figure out if it’s an actual emergency. Plumbing issues can often be divided into two rough categories: leaks or clogs.
A leaking faucet or shower can be an annoyance with the constant dripping noise, but it’s an issue that is unlikely to cause damage to the rest of the bathroom (or the house) if it’s not repaired immediately. Over time, a leaky tap can run up your water bill, or cause mold or other issues. But it’s still not an emergency. A certified plumber can determine the correct size washer, replace it, and fix the problem correctly whenever it’s convenient for you to schedule an appointment.
Leaking washing machine and dishwasher lines should be repaired as soon as possible but may not warrant an emergency repair depending on the size of the leak. Bulging hoses are a sign of an impending disaster. Schedule repairs for any pressurized water line as soon as practical.
Much the same can be said for clogs. A slowly draining kitchen or bathroom sink is an obvious hassle, and a totally blocked up sink or bathtub drain can be problematic. However, if you can avoid using the fixture in question temporarily, it’s not an immediate concern. And it certainly won’t harm the rest of the house if it’s not repaired immediately.
Likewise, clogged toilets are obviously a huge hassle—but unless they’re the only toilet in the house, they generally don’t warrant a late-night call for 24-hour emergency plumbing repair. Clogs can usually wait until regular business hours when a plumber can diagnose the issue and decide the best course of action to remedy the situation. That said, don’t let the problem continue for too long: unresolved toilet clogs can result in damage inside your walls over time from unseen pipes, or even cause a backup of raw sewage—a clear health hazard.
It’s everyone’s worst winter scenario: you hop in the shower, turn on the tap, and the water comes blasting out—freezing cold. Or, worse, you have soap in your eyes and shampoo in your hair when the hot water suddenly turns cold. No hot water, while it might seem to be merely an annoyance, can in reality be an indicator of a much bigger issue: a water heater malfunction, an electrical issue, or a plumbing leak. Or it could be a problem with the electricity supply on the utility company’s side.
Low water pressure can be a result of a broken or clogged water line, often from invasive tree roots. Broken lines can also create soggy areas in your yard, and result in cloudy and/or smelly water coming from taps. Emergency? Likely not. Broken or clogged water lines tend to occur over time, and don’t generally qualify as something needing attention outside of regular business hours.
When to Pay for an Actual Emergency
This leads us to actual, bona fide emergencies that actually do require the assistance of a 24/7 plumber. Chiefly among these, and of special note in colder regions, are burst pipes from continuous freezing and thawing. These typically occur in kitchens and other rooms where pipes are located close to an outside wall with little insulation. As with other problems listed above, if a flood results, then you definitely have a genuine emergency on your hands.
Similarly, does suddenly having no hot water warrant an emergency call? If the water heater is physically leaking water through a valve or the heater itself has rusted through, then the answer is absolutely yes. Water heaters hold a surprisingly huge amount of water, and a flooded basement could potentially be catastrophic. Electrical issues, on the other hand, can likely wait until regular business hours if nothing crucial sharing the same electricity line is affected.
If you’re experiencing a sudden sewage system backup, the choice needs to be made whether you should call for plumbing help after hours. Aside from the health issues, mess, and smell, sewer backups are potentially expensive repairs, especially if the source of the problem lies in the underground pipes and is located outside the reach of the municipality’s responsibility.
Emergencies can and will happen. Sometimes they can indeed wait until morning—but after going through all these potential issues, if you do in fact wind up needing assistance outside of regular business hours, Stan’s Heating, Air & Plumbing is ready and able to help regardless of the hour. Our technicians can quickly diagnose a problem and either effect repairs on the spot or suggest the best course of action to resolve the problem as quickly and safely as possible. Contact us today!