Stemming the flood: what to do before the plumber arrives!

Although the AA have voted themselves the ‘4th emergency service’, the title is equally well deserved by us in the plumbing profession, who are constantly called on to stem the flood and mount mopping up operations on tripping taps, burst pipes and leaking boilers!

But just as first aid can make a critical difference to a patient’s chances whilst waiting for an ambulance, there are a few things an alert householder can do to stop a plumbing emergency turning into a disaster:

1)Turn the Water Off

It doesn’t take much water to ruin a carpet or weaken a plasterboard ceiling, so the first priority is to turn it off – immediately.  For minor plumbing emergencies, like a guzzling tap or a damaged showerhead, it will probably suffice to shut down the stopcock (usually located under your kitchen sink or in your utility room).

For more serious emergencies, like leaking pipes, you will have to turn off your main water valve. It makes sense to familiarise yourself with its location beforehand, and make sure it’s easily accessible and not stiffened by rust or lime scale.  Inspect it now and again to make sure – or get us to do so.  It’s also worth knowing where to locate the isolating valve for your water tank or boiler, so if that’s the problem you can stop the leak without shutting down the whole system.

2)Check for Electrical Risk

Water and electricity don’t mix, and when they do they’re likely to cause a short circuit, serious damage or, at worst, be a danger to life.  So if, for example, you see water dripping from a ceiling light fitting or coming into contact with any other electrical connection, turn the mains power off immediately at the isolating switch (usually alongside the fuse box under your stairs or in a downstairs cupboard.

3)Start Mop Up Operations

To minimise any water damage that has occurred before you turned off the stop cock or main valve, start clearing up the affected area with a mop or sponge.  This will save the plumber a job when he arrives (which means less chargeable time!) and protect your property into the bargain.

4)Prevention is Better Than Cure

Like a doctor or dentist, we plumbers prefer to work by appointment, but emergencies will always arise, and when they do we at Harpers will do our best to respond to them immediately – the same day whenever possible.  But as any doctor will tell you, prevention is better than cure, and if you haven’t done so lately, have us service your boiler and central heating system at least once a year.  In the summertime is best, when the pressure is off, so to speak!

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