Plumbing Tips

Hurricane risks of which you may not be aware and what else you can do to be prepared.

Plumbing tools and materialsTopics we rarely hear about when discussing hurricane preparations are sewage disposal and the catastrophic health problems caused by open sewage and contaminated water supplies. An extended loss of electricity or severe damage to utility facilities could present major problems for West Palm Beach residents. If there are significant delays in restoring sewage service to your neighborhood, you may find that disposal can become a big problem.

Even if you still have running water during or right after a hurricane, local utilities may ask that you not use anything that discharges into the sewer system. They do so in case there is damaged pipes or equipment that would prohibit the operation of the system. Failure to properly dispose of human wastes can lead to epidemics such as typhoid, dysentery, and diarrhea. Here are simple steps that any family can take to prevent such dangers and discomforts:

First, be sure to have the following basic supplies: heavy-duty plastic bags, twist ties, disinfectant, toilet paper, small trash can or large bucket with tight lids, household liquid chlorine bleach, liquid anti-bacterial soap, moistened towelettes or another type of wipes.

If the toilet is NOT able to be flushed, it can still be used. Remove all the water in the toilet bowl and line the bowl with a heavy-duty plastic bag. Lower the seat back down over the bag, and it is ready to use. When finished, add a small amount of disinfectant (1 part liquid bleach to 10 parts water), securely tie the bag and dispose of it in a garbage can or some other container with a tight-fitting lid. Make sure you line this container with a heavy-duty plastic bag. Eventually, local authorities will provide a means to dispose of these bags. In multi-family dwellings, managers should have plans for the collection of such containers and their final disposal.

Continue practicing regular hygiene habits, such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, combing your hair and even washing your body with a wet washcloth. This will help prevent the spread of disease and irritation, as well as help relieve stress.

When traveling and staying in unfamiliar places, make sure you know how the bathroom fixtures work.

A recent survey revealed that 91% of a hotel chain’s plumbing fixtures deliver water at scalding temperatures. To prevent problems, upon settling into your room, check to see how all the plumbing fixtures operate, making sure you know how to control the temperature. A scalding incident is very painful and can happen in a matter of seconds. If you don’t understand how your plumbing works, then call the front desk for assistance.

When replacing your water heater, consider installing a larger one.

When possible, installing a larger water heater with the temperature set at 120° F will deliver more hot water with less energy use than the next size smaller. If you run out of hot water, a larger tank is the answer, not a higher temperature setting. A tankless water heater may also be an option. Call us to learn more.

Have stainless steel braided hoses installed on your washing machine.

This has been said before, but it’s worth repeating. The traditional black rubber hoses found on washing machines may burst unexpectedly, usually when no one is at home, causing a tremendous amount of water (approximately 5 gallons per minute) to be unleashed from the washing machine. The water will continue to run until someone turns it off. Even if your laundry room is situated so that the water won’t cause significant damage to your home, just imagine the amount of water wasted. So if you still have the traditional black hoses, remember to turn the water to the washing machine off before leaving for extended trips or have them replaced with stainless steel braided hoses by calling General Plumbing.

Chemical drain openers may be more harmful than helpful.

While they may seem like the easy solution to a clog, chemical drain openers represent a potentially dangerous, if not lethal, consequence if not used properly. Why? Chemically opening a drain rarely removes the problem completely. Usually, the chemical burns a hole through the obstruction, which allows the waste water to drain away, but leaves elements behind that will cause another blockage to form later. Chemicals mixed with other agents already in the drain can cause a violent reaction, resulting in blindness and permanent skin damage. Using more than one kind of chemical drain opener can also create a chemical mixture that can either be volatile or release toxic fumes. Call your plumbing professional if you have any doubts about what you are doing or using when you encounter a clogged drain.