You've probably heard at least one story of a homeowner's plumbing mishap. You may have even experienced a plumbing difficulty yourself and know just how messy it can be. While the unexpected can never be fully prevented, there are things you can do to lessen the likelihood of a plumbing nightmare. 

Locate Your Water Shut Off Valves

You can save a lot of stress, damage, and money if you know in advance of a plumbing emergency where the water shut-off valves are. Look under your kitchen sink as well as every bathroom sink for a gate valve, which resembles a hose faucet, or a ball valve, which isn't a ball at all but a straight lever.

Repeat this process with your washing machine, toilets, and tub if it has open plumbing. Don't forget about other water sources you may have in your home, such as a utility sink in your laundry room, garage, basement, or wet bar sink.

If your refrigerator has an ice maker, you will also need to find this shut-off valve. It may be housed under the sink but not necessarily. If you can't find it, pull your refrigerator out and follow the water line to the source. Once you locate each water shut-off valve,  check to ensure the knob turns or the lever moves. Over time, the valve can become rusted or frozen from hard water buildup or other gunk. If the valve is frozen, try a bit of penetrating oil lubricant. Don't force it if it won't move, you'll have to call a plumber to replace the valve. You should also locate your home's main water shut-off valve that turns the water off to the entire house. This is often outside on the side of the house closest to the street. However, if you don't have public water, the valve can be anywhere.

Skip the DIY Projects

Switching out your basic shower head for something with more substance is an easy enough project for the average homeowner, but it's best to leave the more complicated projects to a professional plumber. Using the wrong type of pipe can lead to rust. Applying the wrong pipe sealant (or worse, not applying it at all) can cause leaks.

Don't Try to Thaw Frozen Pipes Yourself

If you live in an extremely cold climate, you probably already know frozen pipes are a possibility. Unfortunately, too many homeowners inadvertently make the problem worse in their quest for free-flowing water. Pipes must be thawed in a systematic method or they could burst. Occasionally, a homeowner starts a fire because of unsafe thawing tactics. Call a plumber rather than risk disaster.