When hurricanes are in the forecast, homeowners worry about their roofs, windows and trees. But a home’s plumbing system will take a serious beating during the storm. Taking steps to protect your plumbing during a hurricane can help minimize the damage – and the clean-up after the storm.
1. Make Sure All Drains are Clear
Before the storm hits, remove any obstructions from storm drains to ensure that they can handle excess water runoff. Keeping these drains clear will also help relieve stress on pipes in water-logged soil.
“When a major weather event like hurricane Florence hits, your storm drains and pipes are doing double duty,” says VA Plumbing Pros. “Not only are they having to handle an excessive amount of water, they’re also dealing with the extra debris that large amounts of runoff wash down.”
Take the time to check all storm drains near your home and along curbs to ensure that they’re free of debris. Extra debris will put strain on these drains, so ensuring they’re clear before the storm will help relieve some of this stress.
2. Turn Off the Water
Locate your home’s main water valve, and turn it off before the storm. You don’t want to be outside searching for the main shut-off valve in the middle of a serious downpour.
Turning off the water will prevent contaminated water from entering your home’s water supply. You can open the faucet farthest from the main line, which will allow air to enter the system. This will allow you to ration water.
3. Check Your Sump Pump
If you have a sump pump in your crawl space or basement, check the pipes for clogs. Be sure to fill the crock with a few gallons of water. If it’s working properly, it should turn on automatically and start pumping.
Sump pumps can minimize damage from flooding and reduce the strain on your home’s plumbing system.
4. Turn Off the Water Heater
There’s no need to heat and store hot water during a hurricane. Turn off the gas or electric connection that keeps your water heater running.
Turning off the power to the water heater will also reduce the risk of electrocution or a fire in case of flooding in the home. Taking this important safety measure also offers an unexpected bonus: you can use the water in the heater tank as potable water.
5. Fill the Fridge and Bath Tub
If you plan to remain in your home during the storm (please evacuate if you’re told to do so), fill your bathtub with water. This water should be designated for bathing – not drinking.
Also, fill the refrigerator with jugs of frozen water. Keep your refrigerator and freezer on the coldest settings. This way, when and if the power goes out, these two areas will stay cold as long as possible.
After the storm, you may be tempted to turn the water back on right away. But you should wait until you have confirmation from the utilities department before turning the main back on. When you have the green light to reconnect, turn on the showers and faucet to ensure that the water is running properly.