What Causes Plumbing Emergencies?


Leaks and other plumbing mishaps that happen unexpectedly can be a headache for most homeowners and renters. Unfortunately, we might not be able to avoid them completely, but we can lessen the occurrence of these issues.

According to an expert emergency plumber in Portland, homeowners can mitigate the occurrence of plumbing emergencies if they understand the common causes and ways to prevent them.

Common Causes of Plumbing Emergencies

Tree Root Intrusions:

The beauty of mature trees can hide a potential plumbing hazard lurking beneath the ground. Tree roots have a natural tendency to seek out water sources, and unfortunately, they can infiltrate underground sewer lines and water supply pipes. As the roots grow, they can cause blockages, cracks, and even complete collapses of the pipes, leading to sewer backups and water leaks. Regular plumbing inspections and root barrier installation can help prevent tree root intrusions and protect your plumbing system.

Corrosion and Aging Pipes:

As time passes, even the most robust plumbing pipes are susceptible to wear and tear. Corrosion can gradually eat away at metal pipes, weakening them and increasing the likelihood of leaks or bursts. Similarly, aging pipes made from outdated materials may become brittle and prone to cracking. If your property has older plumbing, consider a professional assessment to identify any signs of deterioration. Take note that regular professional assessment will help prevent unexpected emergencies.

Grease and Food Waste Buildup:

Kitchen sinks can easily fall victim to grease and food waste buildup, leading to stubborn clogs that impede proper drainage. Pouring cooking oil, grease, and food scraps down the drain can gradually coat the interior of the pipes, creating a sticky trap for other debris to accumulate. Over time, this can result in slow drains, foul odors, and even complete drain blockages. To avoid this issue, dispose of cooking grease in a separate container and use drain strainers to catch food particles before they enter the plumbing system.

Faulty Flapper Valve

A faulty flapper valve is a common yet often overlooked cause of plumbing issues, particularly in toilets. The flapper valve is a rubber or plastic component located at the bottom of the toilet tank. Its crucial role is to create a watertight seal, holding water in the tank until the flush lever is activated and then swiftly releasing the water into the bowl to initiate the flushing process. When the flapper valve malfunctions, several problems can arise. One of the most common issues is a running toilet, where water continuously leaks from the tank to the bowl without a flush being initiated. This not only wastes water but can also lead to higher water bills and unnecessary strain on the plumbing system. A faulty flapper valve can also cause incomplete or weak flushes. If the flapper fails to open fully or closes too quickly, the flushing mechanism may not dispense enough water to remove waste effectively.

Overloading Garbage Disposals:

Garbage disposals are fantastic kitchen aids, but they have their limits. Overloading them with excessive food waste, fibrous materials, or hard objects can jam the blades and cause backups. Regularly running cold water while using the disposal and cutting large food scraps into smaller pieces can prevent clogs and avoid emergency calls to a plumber.

Corroded Water Heater Anode Rod:

Water heaters are prone to corrosion, and to combat this, they are equipped with an anode rod. The anode rod sacrifices itself by attracting corrosive elements in the water, thus protecting the water heater’s tank from rusting. However, over time, the water heater anode rod can start to deplete and corrode, leaving the tank vulnerable to rust and eventual leaks. Prompt inspection and replacement of the anode rod can extend the life of your water heater and prevent the need for emergency replacements due to leaks.

Hard Water and Mineral Deposits:

Hard water, rich in mineral content like calcium and magnesium, can be a major headache for your plumbing system. As hard water passes through fixtures and pipes, mineral deposits are left behind. These deposits gradually build up and restrict water flow. These deposits can lead to reduced water pressure, clogged faucets, and even pipe corrosion. Installing water softeners or using descaling agents can help combat hard water issues, protecting your plumbing from potential emergencies.

Improper DIY Repairs:

While a DIY spirit is admirable, improper plumbing repairs can exacerbate problems and cause emergencies. Mishandled fixes, such as using incorrect parts or failing to seal connections adequately, can result in leaks, bursts, and water damage. It’s essential to know your limits and seek professional assistance for complex plumbing issues. Engaging a licensed plumber ensures that repairs are done correctly, preventing costly emergencies in the future.

Being aware of these common causes of plumbing emergencies empowers homeowners to take proactive measures and minimize the risk of facing a plumbing catastrophe.