Kost's Korner

Plumbing and Power Outages

plumbing power outage Power outages are already tough to deal with, leaving you without access to your wifi, losing cold and frozen food, and needing backup light sources until power is restored. But do power outages also affect your plumbing?

In short, yes. Fortunately, cities and municipalities usually get water to your house from rivers, reservoirs, and wells, which are pumped into water towers. The towers are placed in high-elevation areas, so gravity allows water to flow into your house.

If your water comes directly from your own well, however, you could really be in for some headaches during a power outage. The pump that runs your well runs on electricity, so no power means no water flow. There’s usually a reservoir that holds between 10 and 50 gallons, so depending on the length of the outage, if water is used conservatively, you’ll have water until the reservoir goes dry.

For city and municipality dwellers, life is a little easier during a power outage. You should be able to operate your sink and toilet normally, but how much hot water you’ll have will depend on the type of water heater you have and if there is any water left in the tank. Whatever hot water is in there, following a power outage, will probably only stay warm for about an hour or so.

The real trouble you’ll run into is with appliances that rely on electricity. There aren’t many homes with sump pumps for the basement to prevent flooding in Florida, but if you happen to have one and lose power, you could have a real issue with a water backup. If a storm with rain occurs during your power outage, the best way to avoid a water backup is to connect your sump pump to a generator.

For the most part, common toilets use water pressure and gravity for flushing, which means if you own a traditional toilet, you should still be able to have normal use of it during a power outage.

However, if your toilet has a pump to generate stronger water flow, your toilet’s tank will eventually stop filling because no power is getting to the pump. If you have a toilet that uses a pump, definitely only flush when it is a must to avoid running out of tank water.

Keep in mind that some toilets use pumps for better flow, but some sewer systems do as well. If you know a power outage is coming ahead of time, start storing water in whatever containers you have and fill up your bathtub. Know where the main water shutoff is located in your house and have bottled water on hand.

In essence, power outages affecting plumbing depend on your home’s specific type of water flow system. The best way to get through it smoothly is to know what systems your home has and prepare accordingly.