Posts

When to Call an Emergency Plumber

Are you wondering if you need a plumber right away or if the problem can wait a little while longer? This is a common question for homeowners to have. After all, what if something seems like a minor issue, but it turns into a real mess that’s twice as expensive to fix? Not to worry—these are some times when you can be sure it’s critical to call a plumbing expert without delay.

A Burst Pipe

If a pipe has burst in your home, stop reading and contact an emergency plumber immediately. Depending on the situation, it doesn’t take very long for gallons and gallons of water to flood your home. Water can cause damage to furniture, flooring, cabinets, and even your home’s insulation and wood framing. If you know how to shut the water off, do that first. Otherwise, give us a call at Palo Alto Plumbing, and move your valuables and electronics to a safe area.

Sewage Backup

It goes without saying that sewage is a health hazard. If you have a backup, talk to an emergency plumber right away. A backup in the sewer line can be caused by things like invasive tree roots, a break in the pipe, or some kind of blockage. A sewage backup is inconvenient but it can also be dangerous. Raw sewage emits fumes and can spread pathogens.

Overflowing Toilet

An overflowing toilet can also be an emergency. If you can’t easily resolve  the issue on your own, talk to a plumber as soon as possible. The water is contaminated with bacteria, making it a health risk. If you aren’t sure of the underlying reason for the problem, a plumbing expert can help you sort it out.

You’re Without Water

plumber

If you suddenly find yourself without running water, this is cause for concern. It impacts your ability to cook, clean, or even use the bathroom. These days, most of us don’t rely on the tap for drinking water, but a lack of running water is still an emergency plumbing problem. Talk to an expert about resolving the issue.

Flood Risks

A variety of plumbing problems can pose a flood risk. Call a professional right away to prevent the need for costly repair work to your home. Water damage can also lead to other issues. For example, mold growth. This can become a real issue in and of itself because mold can be a major health hazard. A burst pipe or a failed sump pump can lead to flooding, as well as a water valve that fails to shut off.

Clogged Drains

Only a plumber will be able to tell you if there’s a hidden reason for your clogged drain. If a drain keeps getting clogged, you likely have a bigger problem on your hands than you realize. This is especially true if there’s something stopping up more than one drain in your home. Don’t risk rising water. Give a pro a call to make sure you don’t have a sewer problem.

Water Heater Failure

Another common plumbing emergency is when your water heater gives up the ghost. Discolored water is one clue, but the most obvious sign your water heater has failed is a freezing cold shower in the morning. Another thing you might notice is that your water has taken on a strange smell. Be sure to call a local plumbing service to take a look at your water heater. You don’t want to put this off because a faulty water heater can actually have hidden leaks. The last thing you want to do is spend hours mopping up all the water from its tank.

Leaky Faucets

You might not think about it, but old hardware can cause leaks too. Even if that isn’t the case, a dripping sink, shower, or toilet can really add to your monthly water bill costs, especially in the long run. Standing water is also an unpleasant mess to clean up. It often smells bad and can cause both mold and rust. Additionally, pests are drawn to water too.

DIY Plumbing Mishaps

DIY plumbing can also lead to some costly mistakes. Some of them require emergency plumbing services. Here’s a list of the most common DIY plumbing mishaps…

Forgetting to Turn Off the Water

One of the most common mistakes we see when it comes to home plumbing projects is that people often forget to turn off the water before they start taking things apart. Forgetting to turn off the water will most likely lead to water spraying from the loosened connection. What’s worse is that  you probably won’t be able to stop the flooding by putting things back together until you turn the water off at the source. If you don’t know how to shut the water off, it’s hard to think clearly when you’re in a panic and water is pouring into your home.

Too Much Drain Cleaner

Chemical drain cleaners can actually do more harm than good, especially if you use them on a regular basis to deal with clogged drains. For one thing, they’re hard on your pipes. Their toxic fumes can also be a hazard to your health.

Incorrect Toilet Placement

An incorrect toilet placement is another issue we regularly see. While this might seem like a simple project you can handle on your own, it still requires specialized knowledge. Often, the new toilet doesn’t quite fit right, or the replacement bowl is the wrong shape. This can come down to incorrect measurements. For example, older homes have a different standard than more modern designs, so this is something to be aware of.

Talk to an Emergency Plumber

Here at Palo Alto Plumbing, our licensed plumbers can solve anything from a drippy faucet to a cracked sewer pipe. Our detail-oriented and knowledgeable plumbers can ensure your household’s health and safety by providing quality services. Contact us at 650-405-1460 or fill out a contact form on our website to chat with one of our representatives about all of your plumbing needs!

The Dangers of a Sewer Leak

A sewer leak is one of the most dreaded household plumbing malfunctions. Though most modern homes have preventative measures already in place, pipes can degrade or get damaged over time, creating prime conditions for a leak. If you regularly experience household mold, strange odors, slow draining, extra foliage growth with no alternative explanation, or cracks in the foundation of your home, it’s time to call a plumber. You may be dealing with a sewer leak.

The unpleasant eau de excrement odor aside, a sewer leak can be quite dangerous to your health and your home alike. The consequences of neglecting a leak, aside from being unsanitary, can lead to some serious issues for your home and well-being. Read on below to learn more about some of the most common dangers of a sewer leak.

Poisonous Sewer Gas

When human waste breaks down, it forms a byproduct known as sewer gas. Sewer gas is composed of several chemicals, including ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. This smelly gas is often identified as smelling like rotten eggs – but is it toxic?

The answer is yes and no. In low concentrations, sewer gas is foul but not necessarily harmful. At higher concentrations, or if you are exposed for a long period of time, you may experience symptoms of sewer gas poisoning. Left unchecked, these symptoms can lead to serious health issues for household residents, including pets. This is why, if you suspect a leak, it’s crucial to call a plumber immediately.

Ammonia is a toxic chemical at high levels. Low to moderate exposure can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. High levels of ammonia can cause death in humans.

Hydrogen sulfide is one of the main components of sewer gas. Research shows that hydrogen sulfide is toxic to the organ systems of the body – meaning that exposure can lead to organ damage and death.

While carbon dioxide and methane are not inherently harmful to humans, you do not want these gases hanging around in the air that you breathe. Methane alone is highly flammable. In combination with ammonia (which is also flammable), these gases are a serious fire hazard.

If you suspect sewer gas exposure, contact a medical professional and an emergency plumber immediately.

Contaminated Water

Old or damaged pipes can crack, rust, degrade, and eventually seep into nearby groundwater. This worst-case scenario can contaminate your water supply. What’s worse, if your neighborhood uses aquifers for groundwater, contamination can occur on a much larger scale. An entire neighborhood could suffer poisoning from one cracked line.

The health consequences of drinking water contaminated with sewage cannot be understated. Even healthy individuals may experience disabling gastrointestinal problems, stomach cramping, dehydration, developmental problems, reproductive problems, or death. Such consequences can be avoided by having your plumbing checked approximately every two years. It’s just not worth the risk of skipping essential maintenance.

Home Damage

Sewer leaks can cause the foundation of your home to crack as well. As water or sewage leaks pool in various areas of your home, it can cause the ground to shift. All of this erodes at your home’s foundation from the bottom up, which can cause cracks in the foundation and even buckle your patios or driveways.

Water damage is also a common side effect of a sewer leak. If your septic tank is located close to your home, or if the leak is severe enough, you may experience flooding and water damage to your house. Water alone can cause serious structural damage to a home, but the chemicals and hazardous byproducts from natural waste can make that damage much more severe. Drywall can give out, mold can form, and, ultimately, supports can even become unstable. A bad leak can leave a house almost uninhabitable if left alone for long enough.

Unwanted Critters

If you choose to neglect your leaking sewer, you may as well tape a sign to your window that declares “PESTS WELCOME.” Sewer leaks can attract a host of unwanted vermin. Rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, possums, and chipmunks naturally search for hidden sources of water away from prying eyes. Drippy pipes are naturally enticing. If you provide a convenient water source in the form of a leak, expect to see (or hear) some crawly new friends.

That includes insects! Cockroaches, mosquitoes, ants, spiders, and termites are just a few of the insects that are commonly attracted to standing water and sewer leaks. These sneaky insects often build whole colonies before they’re ever noticed. Maintaining your pipes is an easy way to prevent such animals and insects from invading your home.

Increasing Water Bill

If your water bill has been steadily increasing and your house smells funny, you may be paying for a sewer leak. All of that water not only damages your home, but it can put a serious dent in your wallet too. A moderate water leak can cause you to waste 6,000 gallons of water per month. That’s an incredible waste of water and money.

And remember – all of that leaking water is seeping into the foundation of your home, creating the prime conditions for mold and mildew.

These serious dangers are not something to put off. Neglecting your leaking sewer can cause damage to your home and your health. The best way to avoid these problems is to solve them before they arrive by way of prevention. You should never attempt to fix a serious plumbing problem on your own. It could be a real safety hazard and you may accidentally cause more damage. A licensed plumber will have the proper equipment and expertise to repair your sewer. Additionally, a licensed plumber should regularly inspect your home’s plumbing system at least every two years, and more often if problems arise.

When You Need a Plumber

Here at Palo Alto Plumbing, our licensed plumbers can solve anything between a drippy faucet and a cracked sewer pipe. Our detail-oriented and knowledgeable plumbers can ensure your household’s health and safety by providing quality services. Don’t let a fixable leak destroy your home. Contact us at 650-405-3052 or fill out a contact form on our website to chat with one of our representatives about all of your plumbing needs!