Plumbing Emergencies – McKinney TX Plumber
Water shut off valves are provided for kitchen and lavatory faucets, toilets, and sometimes the tub faucet. In case of a water emergency, try to locate the shutoff valve below the faucets or toilet tank and turn clockwise. Most tub valves do not have a shut off; however, some can be behind an access panel behind the faucet. A toilet has a single cold water valve installed below the water tank. Other appliances that are serviced by water are the washing machine, the dishwasher and the water heater. The washing machine will have hose bibs behind the machine, the dishwasher shutoff valves are usually located under the kitchen sink, and the water heater will have a cold water shutoff valve located on the right hand side above the water heater.
In case of a plumbing emergency– shut off main water to house
The water line coming in from the street is often connected to the water meter followed by a master shutoff at the home. The main shutoff valve is usually located underground in a plastic box, close to the home near an outside faucet. Close this valve and you have shut off the water for the entire house—it’s instant action for serious emergencies. If you do shut off the water at the main valve and have a gas water heater, make sure to turn the gas down to pilot. If you have an electric water heater, make sure to shut off the electric at the fuse box. The electricity to the water heater should not be turned on until the water tank has been refilled with water.
Prepare ahead of time for water plumbing emergencies
You are ready for any water emergency when you know where all valves are located for all faucets and appliances. Plan a family home tour with husband, wife and older children. All should know what to do if water emergencies arise when they are alone in the house. Start with the main water line valve which controls the flow of water in your home.
Find the valve, be sure it operates freely, and apply the tag to the main water line. If it is especially hard to find, place a second tag in a more visible spot. Continue the same procedure with the kitchen. Find the water shut off valves below the sink and test to see if they open and close easily. There can be up to three (3) water shutoff valves under a kitchen sink, including a shut off valve for the dishwasher. Find the valves below the sink and test to see if they open and close easily. It is especially important to make this check because over a period of time a valve can become “frozen” if not used for years. Usually a wrench applied to the control wheel will free up the valve. Do this carefully to avoid breaking the control head. If the control wheel just can’t be moved, it is usually best to have it serviced by your plumber. Until this is done, make a mental note to shut off the main water line valve if this section of your plumbing gives you trouble. After moving and freeing the valve, check for possible leaks around the stem, Minor leakage can be stopped by applying a wrench to the cap or packing nut.
PLUMBING TIP: when you open any valve, open it all the way then turn it back the other direction slightly. This will help prevent it from sticking in the open position.
Finally apply a tag, apply a tag labeled ‘hot water’ and ‘cold water’ to the control valves at every location. Continue the water tour to all bathrooms, the kitchen and the water heater—every place in the home where water is used. Label all valves with the proper identification tags. To repeat, locating the main shut off valve is especially important because when closed, it stops all water throughout the house in seconds. Be sure that everyone, including the children knows where the main shutoff is located.
Basic Emergency Plumbing Tools
All that is needed to make simple plumbing repairs:
Wrenches, medium pipe wrench and an adjustable end wrench.
Screwdrivers– in a range of sizes to fit faucets, valves and other parts of the system. Stem screws for faucet handles usually call for screwdrivers suitable for Phillips type screws.
Rubber force cup or plunger– for drain and toilet stoppages.
Pipe joint compound– used when connecting threaded pipe
Plumber’s putty– used for reseating the drain on sinks when leaks develop or when a new drain is installed.
Closing the main water shutoff valve before leaving for a vacation is recommended. Emergencies do arise when the house is unattended, and a periodic visit by a neighbor is of value. In winter months, a daily visit by a neighbor while you are a gone is suggested. If the home is vacated for an extended period or a neighbor is not available, you can have your water system completely drained to prevent freezing. This should be done professionally by a qualified plumbing expert. If the main water supply is turned off, the hot water tank and the furnace should be turned down. Both the appliances are equipped with pilot control valves.
Plumbing fixtures- When to service, when to replace?
Water heater- Industry statistics show that the average water heater last 10-12 years. With regular maintenance and routine repairs, some keep operating two or three times as long. As with HVAC systems, however, it’s not always to your advantage to hang on to older units. Modern high efficiency water heaters often can pay for themselves in energy savings within 3 – 5 years.
Almost all components on a water heater can be fixed or replaced expect for the tank. Once the tank rusts through, there is no way to repair it. Replacement is the only solution.
Water heaters come with internal sacrificial anode rods to protect against rusting. An anode’s sole purpose is to corrode away so the steel of the tank can’t. Replacing the anodes every 3-4 years (or more frequently if water is softened), will add considerably to the life of a water heater.
Another main cause of failure is overheating from sediment build-up inside the tank. Ask your plumber to inspect the anodes and sediment periodically. Sometimes, this can be done as part of an annual service agreement.
Dishwasher – Automatic dishwashers are another appliance that should last a decade or more, through here, too, you often can save money by buying a newer energy efficient unit.
Brand new units can be bought for $400 – $600, while repairs of various operating mechanisms typically run $150 and up. If your dishwasher is getting near the 10-year mark, a major repair may be a signal that other components are also on their last legs. It won’t take many service calls to pay for a brand new unit.
Disposal- Stoppages and minor malfunctions are worth repair. But if the motor goes out, or the blades break, you are better off replacing the entire unit. Especially consider replacing the disposal if you deal with a plumbing company that warrants the product for an extended period.
Toilets- Unless you crack the porcelain, a toilet can easily last a lifetime. What will wear out is the flushing mechanisms comprised of moving parts. Leakage may occur from the wax ring seal by the floor, but that can be fixed short of replacement.
Toilets commonly get replaced for reasons other than malfunction. Water conservation is one. Modern toilets operate with 1.6 gallons per flush or less, compared with 3.5 gallons for older standard models (a few 5- gal. and 7.5 gal. flush versions from many decades ago also are still in operation here and there.)
Styling and quieter flushing are two other reasons to replace. This is a matter of homeowner choice more than necessity.
Faucets- Replacing a cartridge, washer or other internal component can repair leaking faucets. Tarnishes and nicks are hard to repair.
Good faucets will give at least 5 to 10 or more years of trouble free operation. Plumbers can keep them operating almost indefinitely, but here too most people would rather pay a few more bucks for a replacement that offers better styling and convenience.
If you have a plumbing emergency call our office today.
Harvey West Plumbing