Experiencing an earthquake or even a slight tremor is a nerve-racking experience. It can also lead to a lot of damages to your property and your plumbing. The shock waves generated through an earthquake reverberates through compacted soil particle and walls and slam through sewer lines, water pipes and other parts of your plumbing systems causing damage. Except when it is obvious, most people do not know about the damage done to their plumbing lines until the problem becomes severe.
Although newer homes and properties now come with durable PVC pipes that are able to handle the stress of an earthquake better, they can still suffer significant damage regardless of their age or quality depending on the level of intensity of the earthquake. Thus, as part of the routine checks to your property right after an earthquake, you should check your pipes, their joints and connections as well and be sure that no damage has been done to them. Here are some of the reasons why this is necessary.
- Plumbing damages are not always visible
While some damages like cracks in the walls or floor as a result of earthquakes are visible and almost unmissable, plumbing damages are not that obvious. Most of your plumbing fixtures are not even in places where you can easily see them. A good number of pipes and sewer lines are behind walls or buried underground. This means you might have a hard time figuring out what is damaged or not unless you pay close attention and know signs to look out for. Some of these tell-tale signs include:
- Puddles of water: this is usually as a result of a broken pipe or water leak underground. Similarly, if you notice a sudden outgrowth of plants in an area that was initially bare, it could mean that there is a broken pipe underground. You should contact your plumber to have it checked immediately.
- Damp spots: you should check your sewer line route for dark spots which could be an indication of a broken sewer
- Foul odor: a bad odor can indicate sewer line odor. Also, a leaking pipeline can also give off a typical smell of gas which is an indicator that your gas pipes might be broken too. Gas pipes being broken after an earthquake are very common.
- Dripping or leaking sounds: dripping sounds behind walls means there is a leak and precious water is being wasted. Damp spots or mold outgrowth may also appear after a while and paints may begin to peel off on some walls.
- Fluctuating water pressure: this is another common indicator of broken or leaking water pipe. Pay attention to water pressure and call a plumber if you notice any significant drop.
- A sudden spike in water or gas usage: if you notice a sudden spike in water usage despite no significant change in your daily routine or lifestyle, this could mean that a pipe is broken somewhere and need to be fixed.
- Plumbing lines are almost always affected by earthquakes
As mentioned, plumbing lines are typically buried underground and or in walls. Thus, the chances of a broken plumbing fixture as a result of an earthquake is astronomically high. Even when you cannot see them, the mere fact that some walls are cracked or the ground is broken in some places means the plumbing in those places must of have been impacted in one way or the other hence the need to check again when the shaking stops.
- Checking early will prevent further damage
You can minimize the level of damage done to your plumbing by doing regular checkups. Failure to check means you will continue using your plumbing as if nothing has happened. A simple crack in the pipe may eventually cause even bigger damage in the long run.
Also, if you leave in an area prone to disturbance, checking your plumbing right after an earthquake and replacing small minor damages will help the entire plumbing line stay intact if another earthquake occurs.
- Waste of water, gas and other resources
A small leak in your water or gas lines will gradually buildup with time. Hence the need to check them right after an earthquake and fixed broken parts.
- Some damages can be dangerous if left unchecked
An earthquake is a potentially life-threatening hazard. But even when the shaking stops, damaged plumbing can still put you at risk. Earthquakes have been associated with fire hazards in some places as a result of broken gas lines due to the tremor. Broken or cracked water lines can also be exposed to contaminants that will cause gradual poisoning if left unchecked. Even when obvious danger isn’t involved, your plumbing might begin to act up suddenly at the worst time possible as a result of damage that occurred months earlier.
Common plumbing issues to check
- Septic or sewer line damage: on most properties, sewer lines run behind walls or underground. This makes them the most directly affected plumbing fixture when an earthquake occurs. A crack in the sewer line can become expanded over time. This will cause a buildup of sand and other forms of debris and tree roots might even begin to grow into the pipes causing obstruction. Thus, it is important that you trace the route of your sewer line right after an earthquake occurs in order to ascertain that no serious damage has been done.
- Damage to gas pipes: gas pipe damage is one of the most dangerous consequences of earthquakes. This is why some earthquake is accompanied by fire hazards. Even when the fault isn’t that obvious or serious, stress to your gas lines can weaken them and may lead to damage over time. Hence it is necessary that you check both the main gas line that serves your property as well as the distribution lines that goes to your appliances for possible damages after an earthquake.
- Water line damage: water lines are almost always affected by earthquakes too. Small upheavals and disturbance to the soil or walls can pinch pipes and puncture them. Pinhole leaks can also be expanded which might lead to flooding. The damage could also be less obvious but simple water leaks can waste a significant amount of water and cause your bills to run up if not detected and fixed in time.
The shift in the ground and wall cracks that occur during an earthquake can cause pipes to crack and loosen joints. This might lead to water or sewage seepage through the soil into your home whether inside or outside. Further damage can also occur if your plumbing is not checked on time.
Thus, it is important that you include plumbing to the list of things to check right after an earthquake. You can call in a plumbing expert such as Mr. Speedy -plumbing and rooters to carry out routine checks and maintenance to your plumbing. You should also be on the lookout for signs of damage and call in the experts to have them fixed immediately you notice anything.