Protecting Your Home’s Plumbing from an Earthquake
What Happens to Your Plumbing During an Earthquake
Earthquakes can be unnerving, if not downright scary. While you know the damage they can cause to your home and belongings, do you know how even small earthquakes affect your plumbing system? Though brief, earthquakes quite literally shake everything up. Everything from the soil beneath your home to your home’s foundations can shift and move significantly during an earthquake. Unfortunately, this is very hard on our plumbing.
Common post-earthquake damage can include:
- Cracked and loosened pipes
- Dislodged water heaters
- Main water line damage
- Sewer line damage
- Water Leaks
- Gas leaks
Whether you live on a slab or raised foundation, when the soil beneath your home shifts, so does your plumbing system. In particular, this can wreak havoc on your plumbing connections. As pipes shift, the connections can become loosened and even break. The same can happen to your pipes themselves, creating cracks and breaks. Even a well-maintained system can be vulnerable to earthquake damage.
Pay Attention to Water Quality Post-Earthquake
After an earthquake, you must pay attention to your water quality. If you see that your water isn’t as clear as it normally is, tastes differently, or has a smell, it may be a sign that your water supply has been contaminated. This can result from damage to your personal plumbing system or an issue with your city’s plumbing. If you notice any of the following signs of water contamination, stop using it immediately and call one of our plumbers.
Signs you may have contaminated water include:
- Water is cloudy
- Water has sediment in it
- Water is discolored (such as a brown hue)
- Water smells like chlorine, sulfur, or metal
- Water tastes funny, such as metallic
- There is a film on the water
- Your water pressure has changed unexpectedly
Also, keep an ear out for any local government advisories about water quality. If water has been contaminated at your municipal source, your local government will do its best to notify the affected residents. It is a good idea to follow your local government on social media and pay attention to any official mail you receive. Your neighbors may also be a good resource for information after an earthquake or other natural disaster.
For more information on what to do after an earthquake, review our blog “How an Earthquake Can Affect Your Home’s Plumbing.”
Earthquake Protection for Plumbing Systems
Living in California, we are no strangers to earthquakes. Though they tend to be relatively rare, they still happen, and Californians know how important it is to be prepared. In addition to having your earthquake kit fully stocked and ready to go, you should take a few more steps to ensure that your plumbing system is in the best shape possible when the next earthquake hits.
Keep reading for more information on how H. L. Moe Co., Inc. can help you with earthquake home protection for your plumbing system.
Automatic Gas Shut-Off Valves
Most homes in the Glendale area have gas to power a number of their appliances, including furnaces, cooktops, and water heaters. You may even have a gas fireplace, bbq, or outdoor fire pit. Therefore, one of the most important things you should do to protect your home from earthquakes is installing an automatic shut-off valve on your gas line. If your gas line is damaged during an earthquake, it can lead to a gas leak which can, in turn, cause dangerous fires or even explosions. In fact, fires that are caused by earthquakes often do more damage than the earthquake itself.
Install Water Heater Straps
If you have a conventional water heater with a tank, you should check to make sure that you have water heater straps installed. Water heater straps work to brace the water heater and keep it stable during an earthquake. Without them, your water heater tank could come loose, fall over, and rupture both your gas and water connections. This can lead to flooding, gas leaks, and even fires. Properly installed water heater straps are a quick, easy way to mitigate this issue and bring you peace of mind. Just make sure they are installed by a professional, like ours at H. L. Moe Co., Inc.
Get Yearly Plumbing Inspections
It may be surprising, but yearly plumbing inspections can actually help keep your system safe in an earthquake. During plumbing inspections, your system will be checked for signs of wear and tear as well as repair issues. If our plumbers notice any problems, they will guide you through all of your repair options. They will also help you ensure that your plumbing system is in sound condition, reducing the likelihood of damage during an earthquake.
Replace Old Pipes & Sewer Lines
You know that keeping your plumbing system in good shape is important, but when is it necessary to replace your old pipes and sewer lines? Old, corroded pipes that are in poor condition are significantly more vulnerable to the damage caused by shifting soil and general shaking that comes with an earthquake. Generally speaking, we only recommend repiping and sewer line replacements when absolutely necessary. These projects are expensive and time-consuming. However, we also believe that planning proactively for those replacements is important.
Therefore, if you have an older home and know your pipes, water main, and/or sewer line are on their way out, speak with one of our plumbers to find out if now is a good time for a replacement. Our plumbers will give you their honest opinion – we will never encourage you to get work done that you do not need.
Send us a message online to learn more about our earthquake preparedness services or schedule an inspection with an experienced plumber. We are standing by.