Angie's List: Plumbing emergencies

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The holidays are here, which means more time in the kitchen and maybe more people in the house. That could put a strain on your plumbing system. There are some steps you can take now to avoid an embarrassing breakdown when you are supposed to be a holiday host.

It was a frustrating homecoming for Indianapolis resident Anita Rudy.

"What happened was I came home Sunday from shopping and noticed that there was some water on the floor in the kitchen and I thought, 'Oh gosh, something is leaking,'" she said.

Rudy had to call an emergency plumber. That weekend call was costly but necessary in this messy situation.

"I never pull the refrigerator out to inspect the hose back there; the water line. So I should have done that in hindsight to make sure things were operating correctly, because then I wouldn't have had to wait until Sunday night," she said.

"When you have emergency plumbing service, you are going to be paying extra. So my best advice to consumers is to do some preventative maintenance," said Angie Hicks, Angie's List founder.

An additional option is to check with plumbing companies to see if they have a "preferred customer" program that could save you some money in the event of an emergency call, or offer you discounts on regular service calls.

These are the appliances to check out before you have people over:

Garbage disposal - run ice to check the blades.

Sink - use a plunger and hot water only to see if it clears. Avoid using harsh chemicals to clear the blockage.

Toilet - keep your plunger handy, and check your levels regularly to avoid an overflow.

If you need need an emergency plumber, expect to pay by the hour. For basic plumbing services, you'll pay between $70 to $150 depending on where you live. For emergency calls, you can expect to pay time and a half. But, hopefully, the professionals can walk you through the problem before they visit your home.

"Customers should expect a technician to walk them through a few of those things until they can get there; especially if it is going to be two to three hours from then," said Ryan Carpenter, plumber.

Don't forget to check on your sump pump before company arrives. Make sure the pit is free of debris and test the pump each month by manually pulling the float up to engage the motor.