When you lose power to your house, the lights are not the only things that go out. It leaves you without your wifi, the food in your fridge might spoil, and you could be without heat. But does a power outage affect your plumbing?
The short answer is, yes. Without power, you cannot operate some of your appliances, but still have running water to your house. Cities usually get their water from rivers, wells and reservoirs, which and then pumped into water towers. They place the towers in high-elevation areas, so water can flow into your house by gravity.
However, if your house receives water directly from a well, you could have some trouble. Well pumps are typically powered by electricity, so with no power, there’s no water flow. With a reservoir which usually holds 10 to 50 gallons, you will have water until the reservoir runs dry.
Fortunately, for your house in the city, you can still use the essentials without electricity. Your sink and toilet should operate normally, but whether you have hot water depends on your water heater. A typical tank-style heater might have some hot water left in the tank, but that water might stay warm for only an hour or two.
What will get you and your home in trouble are the appliances that rely on electricity? Sump pumps are used to prevent your basement from flooding, and without power you could have a nasty backup on your hands. If there is a rainstorm during your power outage, connect your sump pump to a generator to avoid a disaster.
Most toilets use water pressure and gravity to flush, which makes them safe to use during power outages. Some models, though, rely on a pump to generate a strong enough flow. With enough water in your pipes, you should be able to get a couple flushes from these types of toilets, but eventually the tank will stop filling because the pumps are without power.
It is not only some toilets that are assisted by pumps, but some sewer systems are too. Many systems rely on gravity, but if your system relies on an electric pump, you should not flush the toilet more than what is necessary.
You can avoid sewer backups and flooded basements with the proper preparation. If you expect a power outage, start storing water in whatever containers you can manage, and even fill up your bathtub. Having bottled water on hand will also help, and you need to know where the main water shutoff in your house is located.
Losing electricity does not always mean you have lost your plumbing. Familiarize yourself with the appliances in your home to better prepare your family for the event of a power outage. For more information on plumbing and power outages, call the professionals at Kellermeier Plumbing at 616-866-5134.