Plumbing emergencies aren't fun to deal with, but that doesn't stop them from happening. But unless you're sure you know what you are doing, don't try to fix the problem yourself. You could end up making things worse.

Even if you have no plumbing skills, you can still help by knowing what steps to take before and after the plumber arrives.

What to do before the plumber arrives:

  • Know where the shut off valves are located. Turn off the water supply to a broken pipe or leaking fixture to stop the flow of water. It will save you further damages and cleanup.

    Shut off valves are normally located under the kitchen sink, in the basement ceiling below appliances, under bathroom sink vanities and toilet tanks, or in access hatches. Look behind or above your washing machine for the shut off valve. Your home's main shutoff valve likely is located on the inside of the basement wall closest to the street where the water line comes in. If your water heater is the problem, or you want to shut off all the water in the house, go straight for that valve.

  • Cut off the electrical current if there are wires, outlets, or cords located near the plumbing problem. Don't walk across a flooded floor until you turn off the power at the main electrical panel box, as water and electricity are a potentially lethal combination.

    Panel boxes are usually located in the basement, attached garage, a closet, or utility area of a home.

  • Once you can get to it safely, turn off the appliance or plumbing fixture that has a leak. Pull the electrical cord to the broken appliance from the outlet. Unplug nearby electrical appliances as well.

  • If a dishwasher or washing machine is the problem, bail out as much of the water as you can. This will lighten the load for the plumber to move the appliance when checking for broken hoses or blocked drains.

  • If a clogged sink drain, toilet, or pipe is the problem, don't try using it again until after it has been repaired. The chances are good you could clog it even more.

  • Clean up the area where the plumber has to work. Safety and sanitation are issues for the plumber and your family.

What to do after the plumber arrives:

  • Give details about what happened. The plumber can't tell you how serious the problem is and what it will take to fix it without knowing more about what went wrong. Repairs can move along faster when a plumber has some idea of what to look for.

  • Ask any questions you have before the plumber starts working. Find out if the work is guaranteed and if the materials are under warranty. You'll want to know the plumber will come back if there are problems with the repairs.

  • Keep your kids and pets out of the way. Plumbers deal with risks in their work, which includes using power tools and dangerous chemicals. Sometimes they work around hazardous gases. Since their work areas often aren't safe for themselves or others, plumbers need to concentrate and not have to deal with distractions.

  • Don't try to help. Qualified plumbers (such as those from The Drain Doctor) know their jobs; therefore, leave your plumber to find the problem and fix it. You've already helped by preparing before the plumber arrived.