Plumbing Emergencies: What NOT to Do!

At MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning, clients often call us at all hours of the day and night to rescue them from plumbing emergencies that can range in seriousness from the lighthearted to the dangerous. As a 24-hour plumber, we’re more than happy to get you out of any sticky situation that might arise, but we thought we’d provide a few tips to help you prevent plumbing emergencies in the first place, or at least to help you navigate the most panic-inducing leaks and clogs when they do happen. Here are the biggest plumbing DON’Ts we could think of.Cartoon image of couple in boat from flooding house

DON’T: Arrive at the scene without an emergency kit.

When the experts at MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning arrive at your home to fix that leaky faucet or clogged toilet, they always come prepared with their handy plumbing emergency kit. Trying to fix a major plumbing problem without a trusty kit is like trying to wrestle an alligator without … well, it’s like trying to wrestle an alligator.

DON’T: Twiddle your thumbs.Cartoon image of bathtub

No matter how insignificant it may seem, every plumbing problem should be taken seriously. A dripping showerhead may not seem like a big deal, but even the smallest leak can cost you a lot of money in water bills. Leaks are also great at wasting the planet’s precious resources. Best not to twiddle your thumbs and whistle past the leaking faucet. Instead, call our licensed and experienced plumbers to handle your water leak problem, no matter how big or small.

DON’T: Forget to replace your hoses.

Washing machines and dishwashers have at least one thing in common—they rely on hoses to get water to and from the units. Unfortunately, hoses wear out after repeated use. Forgetting to replace them every five years or so with stainless steel hoses is one of the surest ways to create a five-alarm plumbing emergency. When they do go bust, they rarely give a helpful warning beforehand. That means routine maintenance is the best way to avoid a panic situation.

DON’T: Start a plumbing project without knowing where in the world the main water shut-off valve is.Cartoon image of person drowning

Even if you don’t need to turn off the main water valve, you should at least know where it is. If you run into a problem, you’re going to want to know where it is and how to turn it off quickly. The last thing you want to do is go on the plumbing version of an Easter egg hunt while your pipes are hemorrhaging water.

DON’T: Pour gallons of liquid drain cleaner down your sink.

You might never know it by the sheer quantity of liquid drain cleaners on the market, but dumping toxic chemicals down your sink may not be the best way to clear a pipe. Not only can those caustic substances burn through drain-clogging hairballs, but they can sometimes burn through the pipe itself (not to mention what it can do to your skin). On top of that, the liquid drain cleaner is often ineffective, failing in its primary task of unclogging drains.

A better strategy is to keep your drain clear in the first place. Preventing grease or hair from ever entering the pipes is worth a few gallons of drain cleaner. Failing that, call in the professionals at MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning to clear those drains in no time at all (and you won’t even have to wear a hazmat suit).

DON’T: Fill your toilet with freshening tablets.

On a similar note, those fresheners you drop in your toilet can also wreak havoc. That’s because they, too, contain drain-eroding chemicals that can damage your plumbing over the long run. They can also lead to a clogged toilet if left to dissolve inside the pipes. Unfortunately, having a nice smelling toilet filled with pretty blue water doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t flush.

DON’T: Fix a water heater yourself.

Water heaters are notoriously difficult to fix. Sometimes they’re downright dangerous. If you are going to brave the hazards of the basement on your own, be sure to turn off the unit before touching anything else. That being said, even an apparently simple task like testing the temperature can prove challenging, if not hazardous. Failing to properly remove and replace the valve, for example, can lead to a sudden outpouring of searing hot water.

If you want to avoid burns, property damage, and overall devastation, stay away from the water heater and leave the job to the professionals at MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning, who specialize in repairing tank and tankless water heaters.

DON’T: Use the same water heater for decades.

Sadly, water heaters aren’t immortal. They, too, get old and die. With an average lifespan of about a decade, give or take a few years, they need replacing every now and then. Tell-tale signs that your unit needs some attention include cold water spills and leakage. In order to determine whether you need a simple repair or a full-on replacement, look at the installation date and consult a professional.

DON’T: Turn off the main water valve if it’s not necessary.Cartoon image of faucet

Sometimes you need to turn off the main water valve in order to fix a pressing plumbing problem. Sometimes you don’t. Knowing when to do so and when not to do so can be the key to getting yourself out of a predicament.

Each fixture in your house—faucet, toilet, shower—should have its own shutoff valve. Called isolation valves, they allow you to turn off the water to each fixture without shutting down the entire house. Such a tool can come in handy if your wife is taking shower while you’re trying to repair the downstairs toilet. If turning off an isolation valve will do the job, then leave the main water valve alone. In fact, it’s good to shut off and on all of your isolation valves at least once a year to keep everything running smoothly and to lessen the risk of emergencies.

DON’T: Turn your toilet into a garbage can.

We’ve covered this one before in a previous how-to and how-not-to article, but it’s worth repeating. In fact, it’s worth screaming from the rooftops. Your toilet is not a trash can. It does not empty out at the local landfill. Paper towels, feminine products, hair products, make-up pads, ear swabs, children’s toys, dog toys, cats—they don’t belong in the toilet. If they end up there, you will wind up calling us at odd hours of the night, demanding to know why your bathroom has become a lake. While we’re delighted to do emergency toilet repair, we’d prefer you didn’t have to call us in the first place.

DON’T: Rely on duct tape as a permanent solution.Cartoon image of pipe

Some DIYers out there have advised homeowners to use duct tape to plug leaks and cracks. It’s a great solution for the short-term. In the long run, you’re going to need to fix or replace that drainage pipe. If you’re looking for a temporary solution, duct tape to your heart’s content. If you want your plumbing to survive the wear and tear of many months and years, call the skilled experts at MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning for a real patch-up job.

DON’T: Rely too heavily on DIY knowledge.

Most people trust their car to a mechanic, their financial portfolios to a qualified investment manager, and their heart to a cardiologist; so, why do so many people trust their plumbing to themselves?

Sometimes DIY plumbing jobs go as planned. Sometimes they succeed without any major mishaps. Just as frequently they can land you in a good deal of hot water (or cold water, as the case may be). All too often we’ve seen a do-it-yourselfer turn a minor plumbing problem into a major plumbing emergency.

DON’T: Confuse a contractor or handyman with a plumber.

General contractors and handymen are great at fixing any number of problems. They’re jacks-of-all-trades. Many of them are all-around good guys and gals. One thing a general contractor isn’t, though, is a plumbing expert. Calling a contractor to fix your clogged drains is a bit like calling your family doctor to operate on your blocked arteries. While both are great at what they do, they don’t do the same thing. When it comes to leaky pipes, clogged drains, faulty water heaters, or overflowing sinks, you need to call in the specialists.

DON’T: Forget to call Met Plumbing.cartoon plumber

For all of your Texas plumbing needs, MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning is here to help. As a family-run business with over 20 years of professional plumbing experience, we can handle any emergency you throw at us. Serving the entire Houston Metro area, including Katy, the Woodlands, and Sugar Land, we provide everything from water heater repair and drain cleaning to kitchen plumbing services and toilet repair. Whether you have a major emergency or just need routine maintenance, call us at 281-603-9949 or fill out our online form to schedule a service call. You’ll be glad we MET!

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