Make Sure Your Plumbing is Prepared for Hurricane Season

When it comes to hurricane preparedness do not forget your plumbing which can be at risk when a major storm hits.

Houston area residents that lived through Hurricane Harvey in 2017 certainly understand the catastrophic damage that these storms can wreak.

Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane, caused an estimated $125 billion in damage with 30,000 people displaced by flooding and more than 17,000 rescues made.

The torrential rains brought by Harvey created widespread plumbing issues across the Houston area including:

  • 77 drinking water systems issued boil-water notices.
  • 19 drinking water systems were completely shut down.
  • 31 wastewater treatment plants were inoperable.

Texas Gulf Coast is Hurricane Country

Texans always must be on their guard during hurricane season as Harvey was just one in a series of costly storms in the last two decades including Ike (2008), Dolly (2008), Rita (2005), and Allison (2001).

2021 is shaping up to be an above average season with the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project updating their hurricane season forecast on July 7. To date there have been five named storms and one hurricane with a forecast to come of:

  • 15 named storms during the remainder of the season
  • 8 hurricanes to come
  • 4 major hurricanes are forecasted

“We anticipate an above-normal probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” said the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project. “As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”

Before Storms: 6 Tips to Prep Your Plumbing

Most homeowners likely only think about their plumbing when something is not functioning properly, but the key to getting ready for hurricane season is to prepare when the skies are blue, and everything appears in working order.

Here are a half dozen tips to get you ready for hurricane season:

  1. Locate Your Main Water Shutoff Valve: Many homeowners do not know where their main water shutoff valve is located. This valve, typically a ball or gate valve, will be located on the perimeter of your home. Sometimes it will be located on a wall inside a garage or basement. It normally is on a straight run from your water main out at the street. If you can not locate your main water shutoff valve, call your local plumber for help finding it. This main water shutoff valve is needed to stop the water supply in event of a leak or other damage.
  2. Examine Tree Roots: Inspect tree roots on your property and look for issues where they may be interfering with your plumbing. When trees go down in a storm their roots could rip out or damage your plumbing lines. If you are not sure what to look for, ask your local plumber for help.
  3. Inspect Your Septic Tank: Septic tanks can be vulnerable to flooding events and that can lead to public health issues. Prepare for hurricane season by having your septic tank inspected and cleaned by a professional. Keep in mind if you have current unpleasant odors in your drains, this could already be a sign of a possible backup or clogging in your lines.
  4. Keep Sump Pump in Working Order: Your sump pump can protect your property from flooding but if it fails it could make the situation worse. Make sure your sump pump is working and clear of any debris or obstructions. Perform a quick test by taking a bucket of water and dumping it in the sump pit to make sure the pump turns on and removes the water.
  5. Inside Home Inspect Your Drains: All your drains should be inspected to make sure there are no clogs. Remember, a slow drain is a sign of an issue and needs to be addressed.
  6. Gutters, Downspouts and Outside Drains Should be Debris Free: The systems you have in place to move water away from your home and foundation, such as gutters, downspouts, and other outside drains, will only work if they are free of leaves and other debris that build up over time. Inspect them and make sure your gutters and downspouts do not have any loose nails or screws as significant amounts of rain can cause these systems to fail if not attached securely.

In the days leading up to a major storm, take these precautions:

During and after the storm:

  • Stock up on bottled drinking water or fill up tap water in clean water containers. FEMA recommends one gallon per person per day and plan for at least a three-day supply for evacuation and a two-week supply for home.
  • Fill up your sinks and bathtubs with water so you will have something to flush toilets with if your water supply goes out.

On the eve of a major storm:

  • Turn off your main water supply, especially if you must evacuate the area. Leave one tap, furthest away from the water main, open to allow air in the system.
  • Turn your water heater off to avoid pressure on your plumbing system.

Most of all, stay safe during the storm and wait for it to pass before venturing out and inspecting debris and damage in gutters, downspouts, and drains.

Inspect all your plumbing after the storm, looking for signs of damage to your lines such as bubbles when you flush the toilet or turn on the tap.

Obviously, sewage backing up into toilets, sinks, and/or bathtubs is a sign of a broken or clogged pipe and you should make an emergency plumbing call to your trusted professional.

Family-owned and operated Pilot Plumbing is here to help North Houston and Montgomery County residents prepare for hurricane season. Contact us today to make sure your plumbing system is working properly before a big storm hits.