6 Tips to Help You Avoid a Plumbing Emergency

Plumbing emergencies can be stressful, costly, and potentially dangerous. But, the good news is, they can also be preventable. By taking care of your plumbing system, and knowing what warning signs to look out for, you can reduce the chances of an emergency happening in the first place. Here are six tips that you as a homeowner can use to avoid plumbing emergencies.

1.      Watch what you put in your drains

You can prevent a plumbing emergency by paying attention to what you put in your drains. Certain products and substances are not meant to be disposed of in your kitchen or bathroom drain and can cause problems such as leaks, blockages, backups, and more.


Grease is one substance that should never come in contact with your drains. When grease cools, it solidifies, which can cause a blockage. Instead of pouring grease down the drain, you can dispose of it safely by using an old container or jar. Simply pour the grease into the container once it’s cooled and toss it in the trash.

Fats and Oils

This category includes dairy products, cooking oils, salad dressings, and more. Oils can coat the drain and your pipes. A buildup of oil can gradually clog the drain over time. On the other hand, fats solidify at room temperature and create blockages. To keep things flowing smoothly, do not dispose of these common ingredients in your drains.

Drain cleaners

While liquid drain cleaner can fix clogs and backups, it can also harm the drain lines themselves due to the harsh chemical formula. Instead, use a drain snake to dislodge minor clogs. A drain snake has none of the harsh chemicals but can be just as effective as a liquid drain cleaner. For major clogs, call a plumber to schedule a drain cleaning.

Food waste

Even if you have a garbage disposal, food shouldn’t be put down the drain. Starchy and stringy foods can be difficult for the disposal to shred and can get tangled around the blade. Seeds, eggshells, and bones can also damage the disposal and potentially cause it to break. These foods may also not break down in pipes, creating blockages.

The following foods can be particularly damaging to your drains:

  • Cabbage
  • Coffee grounds
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Eggshells
  • Fruit pits and peels
  • Bones
  • Pasta or rice

Personal care products

The only product that’s safe to be flushed down your toilet is toilet paper. Other products have the potential to cause clogs that could lead to an emergency overflow.

  • Tissues
  • Paper towels
  • Dental floss
  • Baby wipes
  • Wrappers
  • Feminine products

2.      Watch for signs of leaks

Some leaks are noticeable right away, but others can remain hidden in the walls or flooring of your home. By recognizing the signs of leaks, you can address them before they become so severe that they cause an emergency.

Common signs of leaks include:

  • Staining on walls or flooring
  • Cracks in the foundation
  • Musty odor
  • Increase to your water bill
  • Warped floorboards, walls, or ceilings
  • Flooded or muddy lawn

Additionally, you should check your faucets regularly to make sure there are no loose fixtures, as these can be a major cause of leaks. If there are, have them tightened or replaced by a plumber.

3.      Locate your water shut off valves

It’s important to know where your water shut-off valves are so that you can quickly and easily access them before a small leak turns into a big one.

You should also check the valve frequently to make sure that it is still operating normally. Sometimes, valves that aren’t used for a long time can stop turning due to rust or corrosion.

Main shut off valve

The main shut-off valve controls your home’s entire water supply. If you’re not sure where a leak is coming from, sometimes it’s necessary to turn off the water to the whole house. The exact location depends on your specific home, which is why it’s important to find it before any sort of leak or emergency occurs.

To turn off the main shut-off valve, you will likely need specific tools such as a meter key. Or, you may be able to twist the valve with an adjustable wrench.


If your home has a basement or crawlspace, that’s where the shut-off valve is most likely located. You can typically find it on a wall facing the front of the house. If your home doesn’t have a basement or crawlspace, your shut-off valve could be in the garage or near your water heater.


If your water shut-off valve is located outdoors, it’s likely buried underground, near the street or sidewalk with a metal cover over it. Once you open this cover, you’ll be able to access the shut-off valve.

Fixture shut offs

Toilets, sinks, and washing machines have their own shut-off valves. For small or localized problems, turning off the water to a specific fixture is easier than turning off the water for the whole house. These valves are located either behind, next to, or underneath the fixture and can be shut off by turning the valve clockwise.

4.      Keep an emergency kit

A kit of basic plumbing tools will not only help you solve small problems, but also minimize the potential of an emergency causing large amounts of damage. Even if you’re not especially handy, you can utilize these tools to keep things under control before a plumber arrives.

We recommend that every homeowner keep the following tools on hand for basic plumbing repair jobs:

  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Plunger
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Split-joint pliers
  • Screwdriver set
  • Allen wrench
  • Duct tape
  • Drain snake
  • Protective eyewear

5.      Call a plumber for regular inspections

Having your plumbing inspected annually will help keep everything in good working order. Additionally, the plumber will be able to address any small problems that could turn into larger ones, such as slow drains, clogged drain lines, and more.

At Chas Roberts, our 10-point plumbing inspection is comprehensive, and includes tests such as:

  • Water main pressure test
  • Water quality test
  • Water heater check
  • Toilet check
  • Supply line checks

6.      Get to know the plumbing experts at Chas Roberts

The best way to prevent an emergency is to work with the plumbing experts. Our full-service plumbing department can assist you with leaks, drain cleaning, sewer and septic issues, water filtration, and more. We also offer 24-hour emergency services, to make sure we’re always there when you need us. Contact us today for all your plumbing needs.