Earthquakes are unpredictable and often destructive; when one hits hard, the damage to your plumbing can be devastating. Earthquakes shake and jolt the pipes, making them susceptible to breakage. This can cause extensive water damage and flooding in your home. If you live in the Seattle area, you need to brush up on your earthquake plumbing preparation to reduce losses in an emergency situation.
The earthquake that hit the Seattle area in 2001 caused nearly $2 billion in damage, and much of that was associated with plumbing. While there’s no way to protect your home from earthquake damage completely, there are some things you can do to minimize the chances of your plumbing being affected. We will go over why plumbing preparation for earthquakes is so crucial for Seattle Area residents and how to prepare your plumbing for the big one.
Why earthquake plumbing preparation is essential
Plumbing is one of the most vulnerable systems in your home during an earthquake. The shaking from the quake can damage pipes, fittings, and other plumbing components. This can lead to water damage, flooding, and even sewage leaks. Seattle is especially vulnerable to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” This means that there is a high risk of earthquake activity in the area, resulting from the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates.
So, why is plumbing preparation so important for Seattle Area residents?
- To prevent or minimize water damage in your home if an earthquake strikes.
- To prevent sewage leaks, which can lead to contamination and health hazards.
- Keep your plumbing system in good working order, even after an earthquake.
How to prepare your plumbing for an earthquake
Preparing your plumbing for an earthquake doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. You can do a few key things to help keep your plumbing safe during an earthquake.
1. Have your home inspected by a licensed professional.
This will help identify any existing problems with your plumbing, such as faulty pipes or fittings. It’s essential to have these problems fixed before an earthquake hits, as they could cause severe damage during the shaking. The most vulnerable parts of your plumbing are the water lines, sewer lines, and gas lines.
2. Install earthquake shut-off valves.
Earthquake shut-off valves are devices that automatically turn off the water supply to your home if an earthquake is detected. The valves are installed on the main water line coming into your home, and they sense when the ground is shaking. When they detect an earthquake, the valves shut off the water to prevent damage to your home’s plumbing system. We usually recommend installing two valves, one for the water and one for the gas. That way, if one valve fails, you have a backup.
3. Use seismic straps
Seismic straps are devices that help secure your water heater, gas meter, and other appliances to the wall or floor. This prevents them from tipping over or shifting during an earthquake, which could cause water damage or leaks. Seismic straps are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Our plumbers can help you select and install suitable straps for your home.
4. Install flexible plumbing connections.
Flexible plumbing connections are designed to move during an earthquake, which helps protect your pipes from breaking. They are most commonly used on water lines, but they can also be used on gas lines and sewer lines. Flexible connections are not a substitute for earthquake shut-off valves, but they can help reduce the chances of your pipes breaking during an earthquake.
5. Know where your main water shut-off valve is located.
In the event of an earthquake, you may need to turn off your home’s water supply to prevent water damage. The main water shut-off valve is usually located near the water meter, on the street side of your home. It’s important to know where the valve is located so you can quickly turn off the water if an earthquake strikes.
6. Store an emergency water supply.
If an earthquake hits and your water lines are damaged, you may not have access to running water. That’s why it’s important to have an emergency water supply. We recommend storing at least 50% of your family’s normal uses in a day for 3-7 days. This will help you stay hydrated and have enough water for basic needs, like cooking and cleaning, before restoring the supply.
Protect your home and your family in the best way possible
Following these simple tips can help protect your plumbing system from damage during an earthquake. If you have questions about earthquake preparedness or need help selecting and installing earthquake shut-off valves or seismic straps, our plumbers in Seattle are here to help. Give us a call today