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What To Do When You Have A Plumbing Emergency At Work

What To Do When You Have A Plumbing Emergency At Work

A plumbing emergency at work can have a detrimental impact on your business. If it’s serious, it could even force your business to close for a time, and may compromise the safety of your employees. In this article, we’ll provide you with our expert tips and advice on what to do in a commercial plumbing emergency.

What Is A Plumbing Emergency?

A plumbing emergency can be classified into different categories, which really depend on the component that is affected. It can be disastrous for the workplace, especially if leaking water causes damage to office equipment, inventory, or paper files.

If left unattended, it may also endanger your employees, because any leaking water can get into the electrical system. This causes short circuits, which could then possibly trigger a fire. The situation could be even worse if it happens during non-office hours when nobody is around to remedy or report it.

Here are some common types of plumbing emergencies at the workplace:

  • Leaky pipes and faucets: This is the most common problem in old buildings with old plumbing systems. Leakages vary in intensity, and typically start as barely noticeable drips that accumulate over time. This may gradually damage walls and ceilings.
  • Overflowing toilets: Anything that is flushed down the toilet that shouldn’t be can cause clogging. This includes cigarettes, papers, sanitary items, ‘flushable wipes’, and even food items. Clogging can then cause the toilet to overflow. *PLEASE do not flush wipes – none of them should be flushed, even if they say flushable on the package.
  • Burst pipes: Pressure and temperature can lead to burst pipes. If the pressure is too high, for example, your pipe gaskets might not be able to handle it. During the winter season, water may freeze and expand, causing pipes to burst. Old pipes may also be corroded and gaskets already brittle.
  • Defective water heaters: In the best case scenario, a defective water heater will simply not work. In the worst case scenario, however, the water heater may be too hot and can cause pressure buildup in the plumbing system, leading to burst pipes.
  • Defective water pumps: A medium or high rise building requires water pumps in order to deliver water to the higher floors. The pumps are also necessary to remove flood water from the basement. If one or more pumps are defective, water won’t be able to reach the higher floors, and the basement may also become flooded.

What Should I Do If I Have A Commercial Plumbing Emergency?

There are several things you can do during a commercial plumbing emergency, depending on what’s happening, such as the type of defect in your plumbing system. In some situations, there’s simply nothing you can do but evacuate the building and wait for professional plumbers to arrive. In others, however, there are few steps you can take:

  • Remove valuables: If you have a burst pipe and a large amount of water is spouting, make sure that any electrical equipment, electronic gadgets, paper documents, or other valuable items are out of the way. 
  • Isolate the water source: Try to close the main water supply valve, or the part of the valve system that controls the flow of water, in order to isolate the affected portion. For instance, if the faucets in your restrooms burst, you could try closing the restroom water valve.
  • Take safety precautions: Switching off the electricity is a crucial step in preventing the risk of electrocution or a possible fire. You should also make sure your water heater is switched off. If the situation is really bad, you may need to evacuate your premises.
  • Call for help: Once you’ve isolated the source of the problem, call professional plumbers or your building’s maintenance staff. If the situation is really getting out of hand, you may have to call the emergency services. 

Commercial Plumbing Emergency Tips

If you’re a business owner or the building manager, try not to panic if a plumbing emergency occurs. You can deal with the situation more effectively if you remain calm and collected. Your priority should be the safety of your personnel and valuable items on your premises.

Assess the situation, including whether it warrants work stoppage or evacuation. If you cannot isolate the affected area, you should at least try to prevent other parts of your plumbing system from being damaged.

An emergency requires a quick and decisive response, especially if no professional plumbers are readily available. It could be even more problematic if you don’t have access to the valves, water heater, pump, and other parts of the plumbing system. In that case, you should immediately contact those who do, such as maintenance staff.

How Regular Maintenance Can Prevent Plumbing Emergencies

Plumbing emergencies at work can be avoided with regular maintenance. Early signs of deterioration, like loose gaskets and pipes, can be repaired quite easily. Old components should also be replaced to prevent things falling into disrepair. Temperature and water pressure should also be calibrated, and clogs removed before they cause trouble.

For regular and preventive maintenance of the plumbing system in your building, hire plumbing professionals, who will ensure that everything is functioning as it should be. Doing this is important because many of the factors that lead to plumbing emergencies are small things that can accumulate if left unchecked. They may seem trivial at first, but they can cause significant damage in the long run, and hiring professional plumbers can prevent this (and save you money). 

If you’re in the Kansas City metro area and would like to chat about your commercial plumbing system, contact us today for your customized quote.