Good plumbers can handle just about any plumbing emergency that can happen in your home, but what can you do while you wait for a plumber to arrive? What happens if you have an emergency in the middle of the night on a weekend? Although you should leave complex plumbing problems to professional plumbers, you should still make some effort to clean up messes and contain any problems you may have before contacting a professional. This means that you will need a plumbing emergency kit in your home. Fortunately, putting one together is easier than you might think. Here are some of the basic supplies you should always have on hand to deal with plumbing problems.

Several Large Buckets

As simple as it sounds, a five-gallon bucket can be a godsend during a plumbing emergency. A bucket can catch water as it drips from a leaking pipe, provide a safe place for any parts or tools you may have to use when making your repairs and hold enough soap and water if you need to clean up more than just water. Try to have a few of these on hand; you'll never know how many you will need or when you may need them.


Every home should have at least one really good plunger. Plungers are commonly used to fix a clogged toilet, which is a very common plumbing problem. Most of them are also fairly inexpensive; you can expect to spend between $4 and $15 for a plunger at most hardware or department stores. Try to keep one plunger in each bathroom. You may be able to use a plunger to unclog a kitchen sink, but it's more likely to be needed for your toilet than anything else.

Rags and Towels

If you have some old rags that you don't want to use anywhere else, keep them with your plumbing emergency kit. You will no doubt have to clean up spills or leaks, so make sure that your old rags are still absorbent and in good condition. Paper towels might work as well, but they're generally not as absorbent and cannot be reused.

Rubber Gloves

You'll never know what you could be dealing with when it comes to plumbing problems, so make sure you have at least a few pairs in your plumbing kit. Reusable kitchen gloves are best, but a box of cheap vinyl or latex gloves will work just as well. 

Zip-It Tools

A flexible zip-it tool can be used to pull out clumps of hair that are clogging a bathroom sink or shower drain. These are inexpensive and very easy to use. Simply stick them into a drain and pull it out. This will loosen or occasionally remove a clog and allow water to drain a bit more freely.

Drain Cleaner

A drain cleaner is another good thing to have in a plumbing kit, but it should only be used if your plunger and zip-it tools have failed. Most drain cleaners use corrosive ingredients that can damage your pipes if they are overused, so use any drain cleaner you might have sparingly.

A Basic Tool Kit

Pipe joints and plumbing fixtures often call for several kinds of tools. Adjustable pipe wrenches, a set of Allen wrenches, pliers and a multi-head screwdriver will all come in handy for fixing a number of appliances and plumbing problems in your house.

A Roll of Duct Tape

Patching up a leaking pipe with duct tape is by no means a permanent solution, but it might be enough to slow the leak until you can call a plumber. Make sure you have a large roll or two on hand at all times.

Some Other Words of Advice

When you have a leak or need to remove a pipe, always locate the main shut-off valve for your home's water. This is usually either near your water meter or in your basement, but the location can vary from one house to the next. Locate this valve and shut your water off before you do anything involving your plumbing.

Finally, always be ready to admit defeat and call a plumber to take care of a problem that is beyond your skill. Leaks, burst pipes and other plumbing problems can do thousands of dollars worth of damage, and you don't want to do anything that could make things worse. Always have the number of a good plumbing service, like Blackburn Bennett Plumbing & Heating Inc, on hand, and don't be afraid to look up other plumbers if you really want to have all of your bases covered.