Despite your best efforts, time chips and cracks even the sturdiest of steel pipes. When people see leaky toilets, clogged sinks, and dripping faucets, they tend to cringe at the amount of water wasted. Also, while the mind is set on getting this problem fixed right away, sometimes there aren’t many after-hours plumbers immediately available – so where does that leave them?
Tossing and turning the night away, worrying about the leaks, and counting down the hours until plumbing services are open for the day, that’s where. Fortunately for you, we asked a few plumbers for temporary solutions to the problem. Here are a few quick fixes to do when you have a plumbing emergency and no 24-hour plumbers within reach.
FIND THE MAIN SHUT-OFF VALVE. While a standard home plumbing system can have hundreds of different valves, you really need to memorize the location of just one valve. The main water valve controls the flow of all water into your house. If a pipe bursts suddenly, turning it off is the best and most effective way to prevent flooding while waiting for plumbing services.
It’s usually located at the lowest level of your home near the street. Once you find it, test it to make sure it can turn off and on properly. If you want, hang a tag label on it or tie a bright piece of ribbon around the handles so that all the members in your family can find it easily. If you’re leaving your house alone for a long time, shutting this valve is also a good way to save on water.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR LEAKS. It’s easy to overlook leaks in a bathroom, especially if your bathroom floor plan is open (no barriers between sink, toilet, and shower/bathing area). In most cases, most people only realize there’s a leak when they’re standing in an inch or two of wasted water.
Faucet. If it’s a leaky faucet, you can temporarily fix this in three steps. Look underneath the sink for the pipes that run upwards. There should be a handle or knob there that lets you shut off the water flow to the sink. Please turn it off by twisting it.
Once that’s done, plug up the drain using a sink or rag. You don’t want a screw or washer tumbling down that drain. Lastly, inspect the pipes for cracks or holes. If there are any, use silicone tape – if you have some on hand – to patch it up while you wait for help.
Toilet Bowl. A leaking toilet bowl is a little harder to fix, but not impossible. In some cases, the leak is caused by a crack at the seal or base of the toilet tank. When this happens, silicon tape might help, but just barely. There’s not much DIY you can do in repairing the tank unless you’re a plumber yourself. It’s best to leave rags on the bathroom floor to soak up as much of the water as possible.
In some other cases, the leak is caused by the flapper. This rubber valve stopper, responsible for keeping the water in, can harden with age, making it an ineffective watertight seal.
Replacement flappers are easy enough to find, but you need certified plumbers to replace it for you. Until then, keep your bathroom leak-free by applying some Petroleum jelly or silicone grease to the edges of the flapper.