Many plumbing emergencies involve water running to some place that it should not be. Frequently those places are where it can do damage to drywall, carpeting or hardwood flooring. It is unlikely that you will be able to eliminate all possibility of a burst pipe or overflowing toilet, but there is a way to take control and limit the damage caused to your home.
Mark Presgrave, a Master Plumber and Chief of Operations at My Plumber in the D.C. metro area, says that the first step to controlling many plumbing emergencies is to know where the main shut-off valve is for your home and how it works. Trace the water supply line back from the water heater to an outside wall and find your shut-off valve. Learn how to operate that valve. Be able to shut it off and turn it back on. With this knowledge, you can stop the flooding and gain control over the situation.
Step two is to find all the individual shut-off valves for each fixture in the home. (Please note that not every fixture has a shut-off valve.) When looking for the valves, keep in mind that shut-off valves are usually located under the fixture; as with a toilet, or behind an appliance where it connects to the water supply. Take the time to learn how they work and make sure that they operate properly and are not leaking.
Step three is to teach every member of the household who is old enough to respond appropriately where the shut-off valves are and how to work them. A ten-year old who knows how to work a shut-off valve can prevent thousands of dollars in damage to your home.
One note of caution: never walk through standing water if there are electrical wires nearby. Find another way to reach the shut-off valve, turn off the power supply, call the non-emergency number for your local fire department or just wait for the plumber. Water and electricity make a deadly combination.
By following the three simple steps explained above, you will be able to take control of a plumbing emergency, and will be much less likely to experience major water damage in your home.