If you face an unexpected plumbing problem and can’t afford an emergency plumber call out, here are tips on how to proceed.
Times are tight right now with loss of income, a pandemic and a recession. An emergency call out may be the last thing you need. Unfortunately, it can occur right when you can’t afford it.
The purpose of this post is to equip you so you can identify what is an emergency, and what is not. I will give you tips on ways to manage the problem until your next pay or until you can afford to get a plumber out.
Some plumbing problems should not be ignored though and will require an emergency plumber call out. In this instance, it’s best to plan now how you can manage an emergency call out bill.
- Does your preferred plumber have an after pay or payment plan facility?
- Can you access an emergency savings account?
- Could you pay with a credit card?
- Can a payment plan agreement be made with your plumber?
- Can you borrow money from a family member or friend? (worst case)
It’s a stressful predicament to not have money spare to pay for an unexpected bill, but allocating a small cash reserve for emergencies now can give peace of mind in the future.
Not all plumbing jobs will require immediate attention. Here are tips on determining your plan of action.
Tip 1: Can the problem be fixed without a plumbing license?
But some jobs don’t require a license to fix. For example changing a tap washer on a leaking tap or replacing the faulty shower rose.
Anything to do with repairing pipework or servicing an appliance or fixture should be done by a licensed plumber.
While there are many DIY articles and YouTube videos which can show how easy it is to fix a problem, you are also inviting these unexpected costs into the scenario:
- Denial of a home and contents insurance claim and/or cancellation of your home and contents insurance due to unlicensed plumbing work
- Loss of warranty on the tap/fixture/appliance
- Further damage to your property due to a poor fix-up job
- Fines for carrying out unlicensed plumbing work
- Liability issues if what has been repaired causes harm to another person
If you’ve determined the problem needs to be fixed by a plumber, head to the next tip.
Tip 2: Recognise if it’s a plumbing emergency
Not all plumbing problems that occur outside of business hours (on weekends, public holidays or at night) are an emergency.
Most times, the plumbing problem can be isolated or lived with for a short time until the next business day.
This can save you after hour call out fees which can really hurt your back pocket. However these charges are are to be expected as they cover the out of hours inconvenience for a plumber to come to your property.
The plumbing jobs which would be classed as an emergency are
- Water leaks which cannot be isolated from a ball valve, water meter or tap
- Sewerage overflows in the house or through the overflow relief gully. This is a matter of health and safety to get this blockage cleared and cleaned as soon as possible.
- Hot water supply – although this can be lived with for a short while depending the season.
Tip 3: Know where to turn the water off
It’s mighty convenient for every tap and fixture in the house to have its own isolation tap. This can make it easy when isolating the water directly to the problem fixture.
If the taps/fixture/appliance can be isolated, you can put off the repair until you can afford to get it fixed, providing you can live without it for a short time, or have a spare to use in the meantime.
When your house doesn’t have isolating taps, you will need to isolate from the water main which will turn the water off to your property. Again determine if this can be lived with until the next business day.
The inconvenience of no running water to a home can prompt an immediate plumbing call out to rectify. Ask the plumber to install an isolating valve so the problem can be isolated in the future if it occurs again.
Tip 4: Identify how bad is the blockage?
When raw sewerage overflows from any drain or outlet in your home or from the ORG, this requires an emergency plumber call out to rectify. Raw effluent can not only damage your property but is also a health risk. It must be contained and the blockage attended to.
If you can only identify one fixture blocking up, it may be a blockage which can be fixed with a plunger or a natural cleaner.
When a number of fixtures won’t drain, this blockage needs to be fixed as soon as possible to prevent a a backup or overflow of waste.
You may be able to determine the cause of a blockage and how it can be fixed by reading this post.
Tip 5: Is it your problem to repair?
Check the location of the plumbing problem to determine if it’s your problem to repair.
Any water leaks from your water meter and beyond towards the footpath are the responsibility of your water provider.
Most sewer blockages are a property owner’s responsibility though. If it’s beyond the property’s border, it will not be the home owner’s responsibility however this can’t be identified until a plumbing call out is made.
Blockages are often diagnosed using a drain camera. If the plumber identifies the blockage is in the infrastructure of your sewer network, a call will need to be made to the sewerage provider to get the blockage removed as soon as possible.
Tip 6: Have a list of 24 hour plumbers you can rely on
Preparation is key when faced with a plumbing emergency. Not all plumbers work 24 hours. Have a list of local plumbers who offer this service so you can call when needed. It can be a good time to check what their payment terms are on an emergency call out too.
I always recommend using a Master plumber. For QLD searches, use this tool to find a master plumber in your local area.
How have you managed an emergency plumber call out?
Disclosure: This post is not intended to give financial advice, but simply tips to assist during an unexpected plumbing emergency.