How to Deal With These 4 Home Repair Emergencies

Lauren Wellbank
Written by Lauren Wellbank
Updated October 6, 2021
A man solving plumbing problems in a kitchen
Aleksandar Nakic/E+ via Getty Images

There may not be a homeowner 911 you can call when you need unexpected help, but this list will help you figure out exactly what to do

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Almost every homeowner will be faced with an unexpected home repair at some point. And while some of these repairs may be relatively minor, like replacing worn-out weather stripping on your front door, some can be downright urgent. Broken pipes, blown fuses, and stalled-out HVAC units can cause a homeowner’s fight or flight response to kick in. 

Before you go running for the door (or maybe running for the phone to call Mom), you should check out these tips for dealing with some more common home repair emergencies.

1. Broken Pipes

The sound of running water where you don’t expect to hear it can be a terrifying one for homeowners. That’s because you can expect to pay a plumber an hourly rate of $45 to $200, and that’s before they even start to charge you for materials and supplies. However, sometimes handy homeowners can buy themselves a little time and slow down the flow of water until off-peak (aka non-emergency) pricing kicks in. 

The first thing you should do when dealing with a plumbing issue is find the main shut-off valve and cut the water to your home. However, you should only attempt to reach this valve if your water issue isn’t taking place near any electrical equipment. 

If you didn’t notice there was a water leak in your basement until there was already a foot of water, and you can’t remember whether or not there’s anything electrical that could be hiding beneath the surface, you should stop and call a local plumber immediately.

2. HVAC Issues

There are few things worse than going to turn on your AC during a hot day … and only hearing silence. If your heating or cooling unit has suddenly stopped working, turn off the device at the thermostat and check the power source. Sometimes a GFI outlet can flip, causing cooling units to stop running as they should (this fix is as easy as pushing the reset button on the outlet). 

Also, a blown fuse in your electrical box can short out your system without warning (if you’re comfortable flipping the fuse back into its correct position you can try that to see if it works, or you can call in a local electrician to do it for you).

If those two quick checks don’t reveal the problem, your next call should be to a local HVAC specialist. You’ll likely end up paying $50 to $200 an hour for a technician to come out, but if your heat goes out during a snowstorm or your air is kaput during a heatwave, it’s a small price to pay for comfort and safety. 

3. Clogged Toilet

If your toilet is clogged, your first step should be to turn off the valve behind your toilet bowl to prevent any water from spilling over onto your bathroom floor. Next, try to use a plunger to force the water back down the toilet. 

The force of the plunging action can be strong enough to remove less stubborn clogs. Bigger issues might require a drain snake. If the clog won’t budge, call in a plumber.

4. Power Outages

Unfortunately, when it comes to power outages, there’s often nothing you can do. If your power suddenly goes out you should call your electric company to make them aware of the outage. 

Often, when there is power failure due to a storm or an accident, they will give you an estimated time for your power to be out. Sometimes though, they really don’t know—especially if there has been extensive storm damage. In the meantime, you can either opt to sit tight (which could be the best choice in the event of storms) or relocate somewhere else with electricity. 

No matter what you decide, you should consider the contents of your refrigerator. Some cold foods have a limited shelf life once the power goes out. To keep your fridge cooler longer, avoid opening it unless absolutely necessary.

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