Utah is a beautiful place to live. The mountains, valleys, and rivers also make Utah a great place to visit. But there’s one thing about living in Utah that can worry homeowners. It’s natural disasters. The Utah Division of Emergency Management notes that the three most common natural disasters occurring in Utah are floods, wildfires, and earthquakes.
In this article, we will discuss how you can protect your home plumbing against natural disasters. The things you need to do and the things you need to look out for.
According to Kuer FM, there had been 93 flash flood warnings issued in Utah by the NWS by august of 2022 alone. These numbers are staggeringly high and pose serious risks to the life and property of the people of Utah. Among other damages, the potential risk also includes damage to your plumbing. For starters, flood waters can bring in mud and debris that clog up your outdoor piping causing the indoor ones to overflow. The excess water can also saturate the soil outside the house. Saturated soil gets heavier and damages the underground plumbing. In the worst cases, it can cause the foundation of your home to shift, causing damage to plumbing both inside and outside.
But what can you do? For starters, you can install a sump pump in your house. Sump pumps are installed in basements and turn on automatically when water reaches a certain level. It diverts the water away from the building’s foundation and prevents any further damage. You should also make sure that your drains are not clogged if a flood warning has been issued and clean them if they are. Do a damage inspection after water levels start going down. If you hear any unexplainable dripping noises, smell a constant foul aroma, see a sinkhole, or the water pressure suddenly goes down, it might be a sign that there has been some pipe damage, and you should investigate it further.
Everyone knows how dangerous earthquakes can be. In Utah, that danger is even more than usual. The University of Utah notes that 2.3 of Utah’s 2.9 million population live in the Salt Lake City-Provo-Ogden urban corridor adjacent to the Wasatch fault. Seismologists have found evidence of 20 magnitude 7 earthquakes in the region in the last 6000 years. Of course, we have learned to minimize the damage that occurs due to earthquakes with the help of our developing technology. But it can still be devastating for different elements of our housing, such as the plumbing. You can probably guess the reason why. Therefore if you don’t have the number of an emergency plumber in Salt Lake City, UT, you better get one now.
But you don’t have to wait for the damages to occur to call the plumber. There are pre-emptive measures you can take, and you might need some professional help with them. You can start with installing seismic straps and braces to keep your pipes in an upright position and minimize damages. You can also install seismic joints and expansion loops that ensure that the pipes in your house shake independently of the building. But when it comes to earthquakes, your options are limited. If you can’t install the technologies mentioned above for any reason, your best bet will be to do a rapid post-disaster inspection and fix any damages that might occur.
As global warming takes its toll on our planet, wildfires are becoming more and more common. Though wildfires are easier to contain than floods or earthquakes, they are still extremely damaging. But how do they affect your plumbing in particular? When plastic water pipes are exposed to extreme heat (not necessarily burnt), they release a variety of toxic chemicals into the water supply, including benzene. A study conducted by Purdue University and reported by The Conversation notes that after the wildfire in Santa Cruz, California, in 2020, the benzene levels in the area’s water supply were 40 times higher than the state’s drinking water standard.
You can switch to using metal pipes instead of plastic to safeguard against that. But they are more expensive and get rusty after some time. A more cost-effective option is installing isolation valves so the water supply can be shut off to and from a damaged portion. But this needs to be done more on a community level than a personal housing level. But there is still something you can do on a personal level. That is, try to reduce the occurrence of wildfires. Droughts contribute significantly to wildfires, and you can do your part to prevent droughts by conserving water. You can install high-efficiency toilets, performance shower heads, pressure-reducing valves along with other fixtures that can help you reduce the wastage of water.
It is not yet possible to isolate yourself completely from the effects of a natural disaster, but there are certain steps you can take to minimize them. Your plumbing is no exception. Whether you are handy with a toolbox or prefer to ‘call a guy,’ you need to ensure your plumbing is as protected as possible.