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Hurricanes: Protecting Your Home's Plumbing

Home flooding, as a result of powerful storms, can be a devastating experience. However, good preparation before the storm arrives can minimize the impact on your home. Anyone living in flood prone areas should consider relocating to a safer area until the storm has passed. We recommend that homeowners follow these important guidelines before the storm arrives.

  • Check all downspouts and roof gutters to ensure they are securely fastened, free of debris and draining properly.
  • Make sure yard culverts and street drains are free of debris and can carry water away as fast as possible.
  • Inspect basement sump pump, if you have one. Ensure it is discharging water properly and is not clogged with debris. Do this by pouring a few buckets of water into your sump pit. In a matter of seconds, the pump should discharge the water and shut itself off.
  • Consider installing a battery back-up pump that will operate in the event of a power failure.
  • Inspect all floor drains throughout the house, including those in the garage, driveway, basement and patio. Make sure the covers are unobstructed and the drains aren’t clogged.

If there is advanced warning of a major storm, the water in your home's plumbing system can be protected from contamination and made available for use.

  • Shut off the main water valve coming into the home. This prevents contaminated water from getting into the house.
  • Open a faucet at the highest point in the house (such as an upstairs bathroom) to allow air into the system. Then draw water as needed from the lowest faucet in the home.
  • Water in the water heater or a pressure tank represents many gallons of safe water for use in an emergency.
  • If there is enough advanced warning of the emergency, assure the freshest water supply by flushing the tank and allowing it to refill with clean water.
  • Turn off electricity or gas to the water heater, so that there is no risk that the heating unit could come on while the tank is being emptied. Draw water as needed from the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.
  • Water stored in your home’s plumbing system is safe for a few days. After a longer time, it must be disinfected before it is used for drinking or cooking.
  • Sinks and bathtubs and can be filled with water for emergency use. Water stored this way is perfect for cleaning dishes, bathing or flushing toilets. However, due to the difficulty in getting tubs and sinks clean, this water is not recommended for drinking and cooking unless it is first disinfected

Water safety after the storm

Upon returning to your home after a hurricane or flood, tap water may be unsafe to drink. Bacteria, viruses, debris, or chemicals may have gotten into the water. Water treatment plants may be damaged and unable to clean the water. Here's what you can do:

  • If you don’t know whether the water is safe to use, boil water before using it for any purpose (example: Bathing, brushing teeth, cooking, drinking).
  • Once your community declares its water safe, be sure to flush your home’s water system by opening all faucets for several minutes.

Specializing in Emergencies

As a 24 hour plumbing company, Roto-Rooter specializes in emergency service and is always on call and available 24/7. Homes and businesses that need help getting plumbing back on-line in the wake of an emergency can call 800-768-6911 or service can be scheduled by e-mail at If we are part of an evacuation, we will be part of it but we will return to work as soon as it is safe to do so.