Go Back

Plumbing Emergency in the Dead of Winter? Here’s What To Do First

emergency plumbing Joe's Drain

How To Handle a Plumbing Emergency

Is the water pressure a bit low, or is the kitchen floor slowly flooding? As in any stressful situation, the first step is always to determine the degree of harm or, in some instances, potential danger. A plumbing-related crisis can manifest in many forms, some requiring immediate attention. While many of these issues are better left to the professionals, there are some that can be resolved with a keen eye and a standard tool set. See below for steps homeowners can take to winterproof their household utility systems.

How To Prevent Burst Pipes


A burst pipe or fitting, often caused by failed pressure regulation or deteriorating materials, can be a dangerous event. The initial breakage can damage utilities and structures in the vicinity, and the volume of water released can significantly harm the building’s structural integrity. Not to mention that any electrical or plumbing-related fixtures nearby can also be damaged. With that in mind, the longer a burst pipe goes unrepaired, the more inconvenient and expensive the repair job becomes.

After the repair is complete, however, homeowners often wonder how they can prevent the traumatic experience from reoccurring. Luckily, there are several steps one can take to minimize the risk of a pipe malfunction:

  • Insulate Pipes – If a pipe freezes during the winter months, it is considered high-risk for potential breakage. By insulating pipes and fittings, homeowners can increase their water system’s thermal tolerance and mitigate the risk of a plumbing emergency.
  • Learn the Water System – In the event of an emergency, the first thing to do is shut off the water entering the house or building. To do so, one must be familiar with the water system. They’ll need to know where water intake happens and how to shut it off quickly.
  • Call and Expert – If the plumbing’s integrity is questionable, it is always best to call a professional and have them evaluate the risks caused by wear and tear on the pipes. 

Diagnosing a Gas Leak

Gas leaks are widely considered to be one of the most dangerous household emergencies. They can increase the risk of fire or explosion and cause serious harm to the building’s occupants’ health. The risks associated with the uncontrolled emission of various gases into a finite area are severe and extremely time-sensitive, so it’s crucial to quickly identify a potential gas leak and immediately call for help.

yellow sign

It can be tricky to identify a gas leak, but there are several signs to be on the lookout for if homeowners suspect leakage:

  • An increasingly strong sulfur-like smell- sulfur-scented chemicals are injected into odorless gases like propane and natural gas to help indicate a leak
  • Hissing noises near gas lines- this is a telltale sign of a leak caused by damage to a gas pipe
  • Difficulty breathing- the presence of noxious gases in the air can cause breathing to become labored
  • Dizziness- noxious fumes can cause a feeling of dizziness or light-headedness
  • Dead houseplants- the dramatic change in the air may cause plants to wilt and die quickly for no apparent reason

If any of these signs or the multitude of other symptoms of a gas leak are detected, it is best to leave the house quickly and call for help. Wait until the safety is officially verified before returning to the building.

Don’t Ignore Sewer Smells

Strong, foul smells, water backup, and decreased water pressure can all be indicators of sewage backup. There are many known causes of this common plumbing issue, including aging sewer systems and clogs or blockage within waste management pipelines. If any of the symptoms mentioned above are present, make sure to quickly discuss the issue with a plumber and talk over the repair options.

Timely repair is essential for several reasons. First, the airborne contaminants released by backed-up sewage can cause cramping, fever, and vomiting, among other unpleasant and possibly dangerous symptoms. Second, the longer the backup is allowed to occur, the more difficult and expensive the repair becomes. 

About Joe’s Drain Cleaning, LLC

In any utility emergency, the most important aspect is the timely and efficient response of a professional electrician. Joe’s Drain Cleaning in Lancaster, OH, offers a wide variety of plumbing services, as well as 24/7 emergency response, all while maintaining an air of friendliness, integrity, and honesty. With upfront pricing and financing options available, a much-needed repair or household upgrade is never out of reach.