How to Tell if You Have a Real Plumbing Emergency

It always seems to happen outside of regular business hours. Whether it’s an overflowing toilet right before your holiday guests are due to arrive or a clogged sink before your mother-in-law is coming over for Sunday dinner, a plumbing emergency can be stressful.

However, fear not, some plumbing issues can be fixed without having to bring in an emergency plumber. Angi (formerly Angie’s list) offers a few tips on how to tell the difference between a plumbing emergency and an easy fix:

What is a plumbing emergency?

While everyone defines “emergency” somewhat differently, plumbing emergencies include things like a burst pipe, water cascading into your rooms, an overflowing toilet, or a clogged sink. To put it more simply, a plumbing emergency is anything that significantly damages your home or poses a risk to the occupants. Any plumber that offers 24 hour service won’t be upset if you call after hours with one of these issues.

What should you do in a plumbing emergency?

The first thing virtually all of our plumbers said when asked this question is “don’t panic”. There will be a plumber near you that will come out, even for a holiday emergency. Keeping calm will help you communicate to the plumber over the phone what the problem is, so he or she knows what materials and tools to bring on the call. Your plumber may even be able to talk you through how to shut off the water over the phone.

The next thing our plumbers stressed was knowing where your water shut-off valves are located — both for the entire house and for individual lines. That way, if there’s a burst pipe or leaking appliance, you can limit the amount of water that’s leaking into your home.

It also helps to have the numbers of the plumber you use as well as an emergency plumber (if your usual company doesn’t offer this service) in your phone or somewhere you can easily find them.

What does it cost to fix a plumbing emergency?

Most plumbing companies charge a premium for coming out to fix a plumbing issue at night, on the weekends, or on a holiday. In addition, there is usually an hourly charge. Of course, your price will vary depending on the time it takes to fix the problem, the materials needed, and sometimes how far the emergency plumber has to travel to get to your home.

The average hourly rate for a residential plumber is between $45 and $200. Of course, that increases for calls outside of regular hours. As a general rule of thumb, most plumbing services charge one-and-a-half times more during the evening, twice the rate for weekends and up to three times the usual charges on holidays.

Having a plumbing emergency is stressful. However, by staying calm, knowing where your home and where all the valves are located and keeping your favorite plumber’s contact information in your phone, you can get through the situation as easily and as gracefully as possible.