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10 Emergencies Every Homeowner Should Know How to Handle

September 5, 2017

New Home Plumbing & Heating Services

It’s a law of nature and of home-owning: whatever can go wrong, eventually will. With a bit of preparedness and forethought, though, damage from household mishaps needn’t be disastrous. Here are 10 crises that commonly arise, and a few thoughts on how to handle them.


  • Burst Pipe

    Whether it’s a broken radiator or a rusted-out drain outflow, a burst pipe can cause a lot of trouble in a short period of time. If water is gushing, close the valve closest to the link first, then shut off the main water valve into the house. Once you’ve turned off the main water supply, reopen the smaller valve and slowly drain any remaining water into buckets.

  • Black Out

    During a power outage, the safest course is to disconnect all appliances and electronics. That way, you’ll avoid damage from power surges when the juice returns to your home. Take great care using candles for illumination, exercising proper fire safety, and be sure to stock up on batteries and flashlights. You can find more power outage safety tips at Ready.gov.

  • Gas Leak

    If your carbon monoxide detector sounds or you simply detect a gas odor, evacuate the house immediately. Once you’ve relocated to a safe location, call the gas company’s 24-hour help line and ask them to send a technician to check your home for leaks.

  • Basement Flood

    Before you charge into a flooded basement to rescue your belongings, be safe. Turn off the circuit breaker to the house (or, if you can’t reach the circuit box, call your utility and ask them to do it for you). Wear thick waterproof boots and gloves to protect against toxic elements in the floodwater.

  • Roof Damage

    For patching a roof battered by storm damage, tarps nailed down with wood strips are the quickest and easiest fix. Just be sure to let any weather pass and take all precautions before climbing up—or even better, call a professional to do it for you, then arrange for more permanent patch-ups to happen as quickly as possible.

  • Furnace Malfunction

    Somehow, the furnace always seems to give out on the first frigid evening of the year—and Murphy’s law states it will happen on a Saturday night, when the repairman charges double his usual rate. Before you pick up the phone, check to see if a clogged filter or a tripped circuit breaker might be the culprit.

  • Locked Out

    Getting locked out of the house is a little embarrassing, and, if you have to call a locksmith, can be mightily expensive, too. Keeping a hidden key poses security risks. So remove your extra key from inside the hide-a-key garden stone or from under the back porch door mat, and consider leaving it with a trusted friend or neighbor instead.


  • Kitchen Fire

    First, don’t panic. Keep a box of baking soda in a handy spot for dousing flare-ups in a toaster or stovetop pan. Avoid tossing water on the blaze, and don’t try to smother the flames with a dishtowel or anything that could catch fire. The better course of action is to use a pot lid to extinguish the flames. If it’s an oven fire, don’t open the door—close the oven and the fire should extinguish itself. Although some fire extinguishers are rated to extinguish grease fires, those handheld fire fighters can spread flames rather than extinguish them when used improperly. Educate yourself on the types of extinguishers and how to use them so you’re always ready in case of a disaster.

  • Flush Fail

    Obviously, a plunger is your first line of defense for a clogged commode. If you’ve cleared the clog but flushing troubles persist, open the tank and investigate. The handle may have gotten disconnected, or part of the flush mechanism may need to be replaced.

  • Animal Invasion

    When backyard wildlife finds their way indoors, they can wreak havoc in a home. If a wild animal gets into your house, keep it contained in one area. Open a window, close all the doors, and it should find its way out. If it doesn’t, call animal control.


Contact Jim Lavallee Plumbing for your plumbing & heating needs. | Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122


A Guide to Furnace Troubleshooting

January 20, 2014

Upgrading to a high efficiency furnace or boiler is an effective way to save money on home heating.Has your furnace stopped working properly—or turning on altogether? No matter what types of issues you’re experiencing, it’s important to perform furnace troubleshooting right away to assess the extent of your problems. Sometimes it can seem like you need a replacement when in fact the problem is much simpler. Furnace troubleshooting can give you an opportunity to diagnose the issue and might even prevent you from making an unnecessary purchase—or alert you to the fact that you do need a replacement after all. 

Furnace Troubleshooting

In order to perform furnace troubleshooting properly, follow these steps:

  • Make sure your thermostat is set to heat and above room temperature
  • Make sure your furnace and the fan on your thermostat are on
  • Look for the Switch Supervisory Unit (SSU) and make sure the switch is turned on
  • See if your filter is clogged
  • Check the air ducts to see if they’re clogged
  • Check the circuit breakers to see if they tripped off
  • Turn the breaker off, wait a few minutes, and turn it back on to reset the power
  • See if the pilot light is on
  • Check if the furnace gas valve is open

You can avoid most furnace problems by regularly cleaning your ducts and having annual service calls completed. However, if you notice your furnace is not functioning as it should, the steps above will help you diagnose the issue—and, in some cases, even solve it!  If your unit is still not operating properly after you’ve performed these steps, repairs will need to be completed and you may even need to install a new furnace, depending on the extent of your problems. Just contact your local HVAC company as soon as you’re done troubleshooting to assess the damage and to see what the next step is!

Need Help with Furnace Troubleshooting, Repairs, or Replacements?

If you don’t feel comfortable completing furnace troubleshooting yourself or you notice a problem when doing so, it’s time to call in the professionals. At Jim Lavallee Heating & Plumbing, our HVAC specialists can help you with routine maintenance to prevent you from ever having a furnace breakdown, or provide you with annual tune-ups and inspections as needed. And if your unit shuts down completely, rest assured that we’ll be by your side then, too, with our reliable furnace repair services or high efficiency furnace replacements.

Contact us today for furnace troubleshooting or repairs in the Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area!

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