Plumbing issues can lead to major floods, such as when the sewer line backs up into your basement or the water main line breaks right in your utility room. Knowing what to do can help you avoid major damage and reduce the need for repairs. The following five steps will walk you through the best way to react to a plumbing flood.
1. Shut Off the Water
If you know that the flood is coming from a burst water line, you can stop the flow quite quickly by locating and turning of the main water supply to the home. This shutoff valve is typically located where the line enters the home, which is typically in the garage, basement, or a utility room. The valve may also be located outside underneath a green utility box cover. If the flood water smells like raw sewage, sulfur, or rotten eggs, then you likely have a sewer line backup and this tactic won't help. In this case, avoid using toilets, sinks, or any other drains within the home so no more waste water enters the line.
2. Consider Electrical Safety
Don't go wading into the water, even if you are sure that is clean, fresh water from a main line break. This is especially true if the water depth is high enough to inundate electrical outlets or electric appliances. Instead, locate your circuit breaker box and cut power to the flooded area. This way you and your plumber will be safe from accidental electrocution.
3. Avoid Contamination Risk
If you aren't sure where the flooding is coming from or if you know that it is a sewer line issue, then do not attempt to enter the area even if there are no electrical issues. Sewage can pose a major human health risk, so special safety gear is needed to properly protect you from illness and other health concerns. If you must enter the area, wear rubber boots, waterproof clothing, and gloves, and make sure to have eye protection and a respirator.
4. Save What You Can
You may be able to minimize damage, particularly if you are dealing with a water line break, by removing items quickly. Pull up throw rugs and move soft furnishings to a safe area to begin drying. Other types of furniture can be elevated on top of bricks or similar items in order to lift them above the flood waters.
5. Call An Emergency Plumber
Finally, call a 24-hour emergency plumber as soon as possible. Flooding can't wait until business hours or the next available appointment slot. An emergency plumber will be able to come out right away, no matter the time, to fix the problem.
A plumbing emergency is stressful, but with quick action you can minimize damage and schedule repairs quickly.