In most cases, if you have plumbing questions, it's best to call a professional plumber, who may be able to answer your question over the phone— with no service fee. During the call, the plumber will ask key questions and confirm that you've covered a few simple checks to be sure that your problem is a minor one.
Before calling in the cavalry, however, run through this FAQ. You may find the answers you seek. If you have a full-fledged plumbing emergency like a burst pipe or a drain that repeatedly clogs, however, it's best to call a professional plumber right away.
How can I prevent frozen pipes?
Plummeting winter temperatures cause many homeowners to fear for their pipes, and rightly so: Exposed pipes in uninsulated areas like the basement are more susceptible to freezing. When ice forms within the pipe, the pressure of the blockage causes the pipe to burst, sending water all through your basement.
Here's how to prevent pipes from freezing:
- Wrap exposed pipes with insulating foam to maintain water temperature.
- Insulate and seal the basement to keep cold air out.
- If you're going away for an extended period, give a family member or neighbor a key to your home so that someone can turn a faucet on to a drip when temperatures threaten to drop.
My water bill has jumped significantly. Could this mean I have a plumbing problem?
Unless your water utility has raised prices significantly, you may have a plumbing emergency on your hands. Check your home for evidence of a slow drip or a pool of water on the floor or under cabinets. Deal with leaks swiftly, and get a plumber on the scene.
How can I control water usage?
Toilets consume the most water of any home appliance. If a toilet in your home runs, try to fix it right away.
What plumbing emergencies must be dealt with immediately?
If you discover a leaky pipe, you can attempt to tighten the connections with a pipe wrench and then schedule an appointment with a plumber. Your need for a plumber's services will be more urgent if you notice:
- A gas leak.
- A significant water leak.
- A backed-up sewer.
A gas leak poses a very high risk to your family's health. If you notice the smell of rotten eggs, get everyone out of your house immediately and call your local gas company or the fire department.
What are the most common problems that require a plumber?
Don't hesitate to make the call if:
- There is water under a sink or on the floor in the basement. This indicates a leaky pipe.
- There is a decrease in water pressure.
- You notice rust around your water heater or on the pipes connecting to it.
- You find evidence of mold, which may indicate a water leak.
- Noisy pipes.
- Faucets that drip.
If you're still not sure, or if you have plumbing questions or a plumbing emergency, contact a reputable plumber right away.