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What Should I Check Before Calling a Plumber?

Plumber fixing pipes under a sinkSome plumbing issues are too complicated, or even dangerous, to tackle on your own. But are there things that you can try before calling a plumber?

Prior to making the call, determine what the issue is. Did a pipe freeze and burst? Is there a worn washer in your faucet causing it to drip? If you decide to attempt fixing the problem on your own, it’s important to take plenty of photos and keep all the parts together.

Some of the Things That You Can Try Before Calling in a Professional Are:

  • Leaky sinks – look for worn parts to replace and tighten all screws
  • Clogged drains – use a plunger to push the clog down or an auger to remove hair and other items
  • Running toilet – replace the flapper valve and flapper

Call in a Professional for More Serious Issues Such As:

  • Water heater problems
  • New construction that requires a building permit
  • Septic tank leaks
  • Sewer line breaks or leaks

Don’t Wait Too Long to Make the Call About Your Drain

Call a plumber when you notice water draining slower than usual or hear gurgling in drains — both indicate a partial clog in the drain. Hair, food, and soap scum are the usual culprits of smaller drain clogs. If you notice multiple drains backing up at once, the problem is usually related to the main drain either inside or outside the house.

  • Once a drain is clogged, it’s tough to get it flowing again without a drain-cleaning machine. The key is to take action when you notice the water not draining as fast as it has in the past.
  • The first sign of a “slow drain” is the best time to call the plumber – before it turns into a mess!
  • There are chemical “drain cleaners” available at most home improvement or hardware stores that can help clean a smaller drain like a sink or a bathtub.
  • Putting a chemical down the drain while the water can still flow through it may improve the situation, but if the water is not draining at all, we don’t recommend using a chemical to try to unstop the drain.
  • The chemicals are very acidic and can damage the actual drain piping if they sit in the line.
  • We recommend calling a professional if your drain is completely stopped up.

Homes with problematic lines that have proven to backup occasionally should be cleaned and inspected on a schedule frequently enough to keep the line from snarling. For many older homes, this would be an annual inspection and cleaning; sometimes every other year will suffice. If you have a problematic line, replacing it with plastic PVC drain piping is a more permanent solution.

Be Ready Before the Plumber Shows up

Before a plumber comes out, take the time to turn off the water at the water supply or turn off the main water shutoff valve. Doing this will prevent further damage to your home and possessions. It’s also helpful to have everything cleared out of the way so the professional can get the right to the problem. If the problem is with the sink, remove all cleaning products and other supplies. If the problem is in storage spaces, clear a pathway so they can get to the pipes right away.

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