Preparing for the worst from hurricane season

Preparing for the worst from hurricane season

Hurricane season typically runs from June 1 to November 1 each year. Hurricanes can form anytime the conditions are right, but summer and fall are considered “prime time” for superstorms. Although many hurricanes fall to the southeast and through the Gulf of Mexico, New England isn’t immune from them. If a hurricane strikes, what should you do to protect your plumbing?

What to do before a hurricane

Shut off the water! If you evacuate, take a moment to shut off the main water valve to your home. You can also open your taps to help drain the pipes. If the storm damages pipes in your home, you can at least minimize any fresh-water flooding.

Check your sump pump. Your sump pump could save your home from serious flooding. Or not. An electric sump pump can’t bail you out if you lose power. If you have a generator, make sure your sump pump makes the list of must-have services. Some sump pumps can work without electricity. If flooding is a serious concern, or you often lose power during storms, consider installing a non-electric sump pump to keep the water moving.

Clear drains. If you have storm drains on or near your property, make sure they’re clear before the storm hits. The storm will bring a lot of debris along with it, and the drains may clog quickly and often. Starting with a clear drain, however, may help clear some early runoff and lessen flooding around your home.

What to do after a hurricane

Check your sump pump! After a storm, make sure your sump pump is still on duty. If it failed, get it replaced as quickly as possible.

Clear debris from storm drains. Keep storm drains clear on and around your property. This allows water to abate more quickly and lessens the likelihood of post-storm flooding. You may have to clear the drains several times following the storm.

Don’t turn your water on immediately. The storm may not have affected your plumbing directly, but the municipal water supply may have been contaminated. Wait until the water authority gives the all-clear to begin using your taps again.

Have your plumbing inspected. Major storms can cause the ground to shift, uproot trees and damage foundations. The added weight of the water also puts enormous pressure on underground pipes. This can cause severe problems for the plumbing inside and outside of your home. Following a hurricane, have your sewer pipe inspected for cracks, breaks and collapses. Also, look for signs of water leaks outside your home, including sinking ground, persistent puddles, and unusual “soft” spots. Leaks can also cause a loss of water pressure, the sound of running water, and cracks in driveways and foundations. New problems with dampness, mildew and mold growth, and high water bills are also symptoms of plumbing damage.

Look for toilet troubles. Hurricanes can dump a lot of dirt and debris into the sewer system, which can cause plumbing performance problems. If your toilets don’t flush as well as they did pre-storm, your sewer connection could be in trouble. The storm could have damaged the municipal sewers, which can set you up for backups and sanitary sewer overflows. If a sewer inspection of your pipes is clear, notify the municipality of your troubles.

One last piece of hurricane advice

Be patient! Plumbers are in high demand following major storms and hurricanes. It’s common for plumbers to be booked 24/7 in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane. Consider signing up for an emergency services contract. This agreement can ensure that you have preferred access to plumbing, heating, and cooling services around the clock.

Contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911 for your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs. We offer emergency service contracts for plumbing, heating, and cooling.

Photo Credit: Adam Pieniazek, via Flickr

Boston Braces For Hurricane Sandy

If you’re a homeowner in Boston, you should be making preparations for Hurricane Sandy. While the central portion of the hurricane is expected to make landfall in New Jersey, residents will experience significant wind and flooding in Boston as a result. Compounding the problem is a large cold front that’s traveling southward from Canada, which is expected to meet the remnants of Sandy as it moves inland.

The National Weather Service is predicting between 1 to 2 inches of rain. Flooding is expected throughout Boston, and additional water may come ashore during high tide later in the evening. Residents should verify that sump pumps and emergency generators are in good working order.

It seems like obvious advice, but homeowners should ensure that their sump pumps are connected to an electrical circuit that will be supported by their generator. This will help ensure that low-lying water can be pumped out if electrical services fail as can be anticipated during a storm of this magnitude.

Additionally, residents should stockpile clean bottled water for drinking, cooking and sanitary uses. Residents should have enough water to last 2-4 days. Municipal fresh water systems, as well as sewage systems may be overwhelmed by storm water during this event, and sewage backups may be unavoidable.

Outside of your home, make sure that all storm water drains are clear of autumn leaves and debris. This will help clear water runoff during the worst part of the storm. If time permits, homeowners should also verify that their downspouts and gutters are clear of leaves and other organic debris to allow more water to drain away from their home’s foundation. Downspout extensions can also help direct water away from the home and reduce the chance of flooding and other water damage related to the storm.

Officials are predicting that Sandy may leave millions without power for 2-4 days following the storm, and emergency power crews from around the country have already assembled in the area to assist with power restoration efforts. Boston residents should avoid driving during the storm, as flooding and flash flooding can occur, especially in areas where the ground is already saturated with water.

If you experience a plumbing emergency during the storm, please contact Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can help repair or replace damaged or non-working sump pumps, and help clear clogged drains, sewer lines and help assess other types of water damage.