Sooner or later an emergency will happen for which you need the services of a plumber: find your plumber now before disaster strikes. If you do find your home becoming engulfed in a flood of water, as always, try not to panic.
Action! Turn off’ the electricity at the mains. Then find out what is causing the flood and, if possible, turn it off: for example overflowing washbasin or bath, overflowing washing machine or dishwasher, etc.
However, if a simple action will not stop the flow of water, you must turn off the water at the mains. In newer houses the stopcock for your mains water supply is probably under the kitchen sink. In older houses, it could be in the cellar. Some old houses may not have an inside mains stopcock: the stopcock may be outside the house under a small metal flap, reached with a special turnkey.
To turn a stopcock off, turn it clockwise as far as it will go, like a tap. Make a habit of opening and closing your stopcocks twice a year to stop them getting stiff. Check noiv that you know where your stopcocks are and that you can turn them easily.
Turn off any appliance that heats your water, such as boiler, immersion heater, washing machine, etc.
If water continues to flood out, if possible, turn off the stopcock on the supply pipe from your cold water cistern. But if you cannot reach this easily, open cold taps and flush cisterns to empty the tank as quickly as possible. If water is coming from the hot water supply system, turn off the stopcock adjacent to the hot water cylinder, on its supply pipe.
Once you have checked the flow of water, assess the damage. If ceiling, plaster seems to be bulging under the weight of water from above, make a small hole with a skewer, screwdriver or knitting needle, and put a bucket underneath to catch the water.
Mop up the water as thoroughly as you can. Start by scooping it up with a shallow bowl, then finish off with old towels or cloths, wringing out the water as you go. When you have got the floor as dry as you can, turn on extra heat in rooms affected and-open windows.
Stand mattresses and foam cushious on their edge as seepage is slower on a vertical surface. Take up wet carpeting and loose-laid flooring: carpets should be professionally cleaned.
Wait until any area containing electrical wiring has dried out before you turn the electricity back on. You may however be able to isolate the power and lighting circuits concerned by taking out the relevant fuses from your fuse box, so that you have power for the rest of the house.
You should not replace furniture and heavy appliances until you are sure that the floor has dried out completely; this may take several weeks.
Contact your insurance company as soon as any kind of flood has happened.
If you live in an area where major floods are likely from overflowing rivers, get in touch with your local authority who will advise on appropriate flood precautions and action. For your own comfort, organize your own supplies of tinned and dried food, and bottled water, in case your house is isolated for any length of time. Have some means of heating and lighting that are not dependent on the mains electricity supply, such as an oil stove, and candles or camping lights. A small camping cooker could also be useful: even a single burner is enough to boil a kettle and heat a can of beans! If flooding does occur, move your family and whatever possessions you can to the upper floors and wait for the local authority relief service to tell you what to do next.
Remember that flood water is almost certainly contaminated, and do not use any utensils which have been flooded without disinfecting them. Your water supply is likely to be contaminated after flooding, so do not drink from it until you hear from your local authority that all is well. In the meantime, use bottled water and canned drinks.
Frozen and burst pipes
If your pipes are frozen, first turn off your water at the mains. Then turn off your water heating and your central heating boiler. Inspect the frozen pipe and try to determine whether they have burst: you may see ice glistening in the pipe, or you may be able to feel a split.
If the pipe does not seem to have burst, take gentle steps to try to thaw it. Working back from the frozen tap, use a hairdryer, a hot water bottle, or even hot cloths to try to thaw the pipe. But never use a naked flame.
However, if the pipe has split, bind rags tightly around the leak and place a bucket 172 underneath to catch the water as the pipe thaws. Call your plumber. It possible, turn off the stopcock on the outlet to the cold water tank. If it is a hot water tap that has burst, turn off the stopcock controlling the supply of water to the hot water cistern. If escaping water cannot be controlled, open all cold taps and flush cisterns in order to drain the system as quickly as possible.