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Plumbing problems such as frozen pipes, a sink that won’t drain or water gushing from your ceiling can occur at any time. If it’s the middle of the night when most services are closed, you may need to call an emergency plumber for help.
Emergency plumbers work around the clock so you can be assured of reaching a professional night or day. In the case of minor leaks or clogs, it’s also helpful to have basic plumbing tools in the house. This lets you take care of small problems or to do a quick fix on a leak until your plumber arrives.
Here are some useful tools to pick up the next time you’re at the hardware store to ensure you’re fully equipped. Keep them handy along with the contact information for a local emergency plumber and you’ll be well prepared the next time a plumbing disaster arises.
There are two types of plungers: a flange plunger and cup plunger. They serve different purposes, so it’s good to have both on hand.
Food scraps, grease and hair that get washed down a drain eventually build up to create a clog. If you notice water that once drained easily is starting to take longer than usual to empty from your sink, use a cup plunger to clear the obstruction before the problem gets worse.
A cup plunger is made with a bowl-shaped piece of rubber at the end of a wooden handle. This dome has a flat rim that sits level over a sink, tub or shower drain, creating a vacuum seal to help dislodge any obstruction.
Keep a flange plunger nearby for toilet clogs. Most homeowners are familiar with this essential tool, which looks like a cup plunger except that it has a flap at the bottom of the dome. When the flap is pulled out all the way, it creates a small bulge or protrusion, giving the plunger a bell shape. This part fits into the hole in the toilet bowl. The outside rim of the plunger creates the seal on the bowl to help clear the clog.
Sometimes persistent clogs need a stronger apparatus than a plunger. It’s handy to have a drain auger on hand if you want to attempt one more solution before calling an emergency plumber. Also known as a plumber’s snake or drain snake, this tool is a long, coiled steel cable. You can guide the cable down a pipe by rotating the handle. It should eventually reach the clog and push through it to break up the blockage.
There are two types of augers. A hand auger is used on sinks, tubs and shower drains. A closet auger is used on toilets and has a protective covering to prevent it from damaging the porcelain.
If the obstruction is particularly stubborn and you’re unable to clear it with an auger, you can call an emergency plumber for help.
Wrenches and Pliers
Professional plumbers have a variety of specialty supplies. For example, a basin wrench is necessary to reach the nuts that hold a faucet in place. These are often in awkward spots on the underside of a sink. The wrench has a long handle and pivoting head that lets you grasp the nut and a T-shaped bar that you use to turn the wrench.
You may want to keep a few wrenches and pliers in your toolbox so you can tighten a leaking pipe or nuts and bolts that are difficult to turn by hand. The most common plumbing tools to have in the house are:
- Pipe wrenches (one to grasp and one to turn)
- Adjustable wrenches for hexagonal-shaped nuts
- Tongue-and-groove pliers, which are long and slim and can be used in areas that are hard to reach.
Plumber’s Putty and Assorted Tape
Sometimes pipes can develop a pinhole or crack, leading to dripping or leaking. Plumber’s putty is a waterproof substance that can seal off a leak temporarily. The putty is softened with kneading and applied as a patch over the hole. Once hardened, the putty creates a seal, buying you some time until you can get the pipe professionally repaired.
Duct tape or fiberglass tape can also be used as a quick fix on a pipe that’s leaking. Plumber’s tape, also called thread seal or PFTE tape, can help stop dripping between two threaded pipe joints. Self-fusing silicone tape can wrap around low pressure lines and peels off easily.
If you’re not sure where a leak is coming from or the best way to handle it, it’s best to contact a professional.
Emergency Repair Clamp
When a pipe springs a leak, you’ll be glad to have a pipe repair clamp as a temporary solution while you’re waiting for an emergency plumber. This tool comes with a piece of rubber that wraps over the hole in a pipe. A metal clamp is placed over top and tightened to hold the rubber pad firmly in place to seal off a leak.
Other Basic Tools
These items are also helpful to have when trying to isolate a plumbing problem.
- A flashlight helps you peer into dark or poorly lit spots under a sink, behind appliances or in crawl spaces.
- An empty bucket can catch dripping water to prevent damage on carpets or floors. With larger leaks, be sure to turn off the water supply to stop the flow of water until your emergency plumber
While you can apply a quick fix to buy you time, it’s good practice to follow up with a professional who can assess the problem, repair damage and prevent future leaks. Some situations require you to call an emergency plumber right away, especially if you don’t know what to do.
Don’t hesitate to contact bluefrog Plumbing + Drain for quick and efficient solutions to your plumbing issues, day or night. Our professional emergency plumbers are available 24/7/365. They can identify and repair the problem and help keep your home running smoothly. Call 1-844-HOP-TO-IT.