Plumbing is something that we as homeowners take for granted.  We turn on the faucet, water is supposed to come out of it.  We go on vacation, we expect to come back to a nice dry house.  We want to install something that involves digging in our yard, we should be able to dig anywhere…right?  Well, unfortunately, disasters can occur.  Anyone who has owned a home for a long time, knows this all too well.  There are a lot of things homeowners don’t think about until it happens to them and problems involving plumbing can be some of the worst “disasters” a homeowner will experience.

However, if a plumbing disaster does occur in your household, do not worry.  It is not the end of the world.  After all, that’s why you pay all that money to your insurance company…right?   Hopefully you have a good homeowners insurance policy that will allow you to make all the necessary repairs.  The best way to handle these plumbing disasters, however, is to prevent them from happening in the first place.  Some of the most common plumbing disasters involve pipes that burst due to freezing and thawing,  pipes that are broken underground when unplanned digging occurs, and plumbing issues involving toilets that overflow.

One of the most common plumbing disasters are pipes that freeze and then burst when they thaw out.  No this should not occur in homes that have temperature control 24/7, 365 days a year.  However, homeowners often take long vacations or are away from home for long periods of time due to work commitments.  If you are planning on being away from your residence for a long period of time in the winter months,  it is extremely important to make sure your home maintains a temperature that will prevent your pipes from freezing.  When the temperature inside your house in under 32 degrees, your pipes will eventually freeze.  When they freeze, the pressure of the frozen water inside will cause the actual pipe to crack or burst.  This isn’t a problem, of course, until the temperatures return to above freezing and the the water will exit the pipe and enter your living areas.  This can cause quite the mess as the water will destroy anything in its path, including drywall, flooring, and carpet.  The problem will be even worse when the pipe burst occurs on an upper level of your residence, as the water will be on a path of destruction until it reaches the bottom floor.  So the message here is control the temperature in every room of your house that has plumbing if you plan on being out of town for a long period of time in the colder months.

Another easily avoidable problem is underground pipes that are damaged when unauthorized or unplanned digging occurs outside your property.  So whether you are installing a new mailbox, utility shed, or a new fence, always check to make sure there are no pipes underground in the area you are digging.  There are companies that will come out to your property for this very reason to give you a “clean bill of health” before you start any digging.  If you are using a contractor to do any fence installation, they will also check for any underground pipes in the area of the fence install.  Also, make sure you have all of the proper permits from your local government before doing any digging on your property.  A busted underground pipe on your property can cause a whole laundry list of problems.  Once again, this is probably the most avoidable plumbing problem.

Toilets are another consideration when talking about plumbing problems.  A malfunctioning toilet can lead to utter disaster in your home.  Do not let a damaged toilet in your home go unchecked.  Call a plumber immediately to have the problem with your toilet fixed.  The water that supplies a toilet will run, run, and run some more if something in the plumbing goes astray.  If you are not home when this happens, your house can literally be destroyed by a running toilet.  Learn where the water shutoff to your toilet is and how to turn it off.  Simply turning off the water supply may limit the damage and prevent a ton of problems in your home.

Any plumbing problem should be fixed ASAP.  Call a local plumber immediately if you experience any of the “disasters” mentioned above.  I hope this article gives some insight to new homeowners and provides you with some piece of mind.  Good luck!