Any time you experience a plumbing issue in your home it can feel like an emergency. The problem is, plumbers usually charge an after-hours emergency fee for service outside normal business hours, which can significantly increase your costs. Some plumbing issues really can’t wait until morning or until the weekend is over, but others will be okay if they sit for a day or two. As a homeowner, how can you tell the difference between an actual plumbing emergency or something that can wait for regular business hours? There are a few easy questions you can ask yourself to determine if you’re dealing with an emergency or not.
Can it wait?
The first, and probably most obvious question to ask yourself is: can this situation wait until morning? If you’re dealing with water spewing into your home and causing damage to your belongings, and you’re unable to turn off the water yourself, it can’t wait. If you’re dealing with a clogged toilet in one of three bathrooms, it can definitely wait until the next morning or the end of the weekend.
- When to wait:
- A plumbing issue that’s causing a minor inconvenience, like a clogged drain or toilet that has a working alternative.
- You’re able to turn the water off yourself, either to the whole house or just to the area with the problem.
- The leak is small and can be temporarily mitigated with a bucket, rag, or other measure.
- When to call:
- You need immediate access to the area where the leak is because the water is causing damage to your belongings.
- The fixture that needs repaired is the only one in the house, for example, the toilet in your only bathroom is overflowing.
- The repair is affecting a necessary appliance like your hot water heater.
Can I address it myself, for now?
The idea of being able to address the plumbing issue yourself ties back into the asking yourself if your plumbing issue can wait. If you’re able to address the issue on your own, temporarily, you’ll save on those after-hours fees. Some plumbing issues can be addressed simply by avoiding them. If you have multiple bathrooms and one of your toilets isn’t working properly, you can address the problem simply by not allowing anyone to use that toilet for the time being. If you notice a minor leak under a sink or from a pipe, it doesn’t necessarily have to be addressed immediately. It should be fixed properly as soon as possible but using a bucket or towel to contain the leak for the weekend isn’t likely to exacerbate the damage. Even for bigger leaks, shutting off the water temporarily is always an option if you have access to the shut off valves, whether at the main valve or the specific valve. If you can’t address the issue yourself or it would be dangerous to do so, it’s best to call in a professional even if it is after-hours.
A plumbing problem in your home can almost always feel like an emergency when you’re the one living in the home, but asking yourself a few simple questions can help you determine if it’s a true emergency or something that can wait and save you just a little bit of money.