plumbing emergency

What Is a Plumbing Emergency?

Working plumbing is such a necessary part of modern life that any plumbing problem can seem like a plumbing emergency. Some problems are less urgent than others, however. In this blog we’ll list issues that are truly emergencies. This way you will be able to tell the difference between what is an unhappy inconvenience and what will cause you more problems if it doesn’t get fixed immediately. 

What Is a Plumbing Emergency?

A Burst Pipe

Water can cause a great deal of damage in a short period of time. The more water, the more damage it can cause. A burst pipe can release many gallons of water in a few minutes. If you have a pipe break, it’s an emergency, and you should call your plumber immediately. If you can find the stop valve for the water at the break, use it. If you cannot isolate the leak, turn the water off at the main water supply. Then mop up any water you can and dry out any carpeting. Mold and mildew will result if you do not properly remove all water, and that’s a health hazard. 

An Overflowing Toilet 

Any clogged pipe or drain paired with running water can result in the same kind of damage that a burst pipe does – except the water will not be clean. You should shut off the water at the valve (located near the back or base of the toilet) to stop the water flow and attempt to plunge the toilet. If you cannot get the blockage cleared and this is a necessary toilet or the only toilet in the house, that’s a plumbing emergency. 

A Broken Water Heater

Hot water is necessary for cleaning and washing, so if your hot water heater breaks, it causes real inconvenience, especially in the colder winter months. A noisy hot water heater can also signal that there’s something seriously wrong. If you have a leak in the main tank, it can cause water damage to your home. Depending on the urgency of any of the above situations, it may be time to call out the emergency plumber to drain, repair, or replace your water heater. 

Frozen Pipes

In February of 2021, many southern states and much of the state of Texas experienced a sharp freeze that ultimately resulted in a cost of 18 billion dollars in home damages. The average insurance claim for frozen pipes is more than $25,000, in fact. This is because it involves burst pipes in multiple locations and often the water runs for some time before it’s noticed and addressed. In that time it can cause damage to ceilings, floors, walls, and wiring, all of which are expensive to repair or replace. If you think your pipes have frozen, you will need to turn off the water at the main water supply and call your plumber. 

A Sewer Backup 

The water you use that you flush or drain exits your house via your sewer/wastewater line and from there goes into the municipal sewer system. A sewer backup means that that water or waste cannot leave or comes back up from the clogged line into your home. When this happens, it’s not good. The most common sewer backup situation involves pipes that are clogged with toilet paper, wet wipes, sanitary napkins, hair, or grease. 

If you notice that you have noises or bad smells coming from multiple sources, you may have a sewage issue. You will need to call your plumber immediately before it gets worse and causes damage or creates a biohazard.  

Should You Call an Emergency Plumber?

If you are not sure if you have a plumbing emergency, you can always call and discuss your situation with your plumbing company. In some cases, if it’s only a matter of inconvenience, you may be able to wait and avoid calling in a plumber after normal business hours, reducing your costs. As a rule of thumb, if you have to shut off the water at the main supply, it’s an emergency. Also, if you feel there is something wrong with your water supply, if it looks or smells funny, you should immediately contact a plumber as well. 

At Weinkauf Plumbing & Heating, we have a 24-hour emergency line for service. If you are in the Alpena area and have an urgent plumbing problem, call us. We will diagnose the problem and get your plumbing back in working order for you right away. 



About Luke Gerhart
Luke is the President of Weinkauf Plumbing & Heating, Inc., has been a Alpena County resident for over 22 years. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from Ferris University, and has over 35 years of construction experience in Michigan.