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Can I Use My Plumbing During a Power Outage?

Power outages, though fairly common around here, are a huge chore every time they happen. Your home is exposed to risks, you can’t see anything, and all of your favorite appliances are down for the count. But when the lights go out, does your plumbing go with it? It’s a really good question, and one the plumbers at HVAC Unlimited are glad to discuss! Follow along while we talk about what will, what will not, and what to do to prepare.

Does My Water Still Work When the Power Goes Out?

The answer, as it so often is, is it depends. Thankfully for most of us the water is going to continue running no matter what, since water is supplied by city and municipal water sources. The water company tends to protect customers against outages in one of two ways. They either use a somewhat standard gravity water supply system, meaning the water is built to flow without aid, or through the use of powerful generators.

While this is good news for most of us, there are a few of us who will not have water until the power comes back on. These are well-water users. Well pumps are almost exclusively powered by electricity, meaning no power, no flow. Though you may also have what is called a pressure tank, or a water reservoir that can hold between 10 to as many as 50 gallons of water. If your home is equipped with one of these, you’re set until that supply runs out.

What Will Not Work?

So the water still comes out of your pipes, but does that mean you’re all good when it comes to plumbing? Unfortunately, no. Many appliances are going to be down and out, including:

  • Water heaters. Yes, even a gas water heater still uses a bit of electricity, so if you were looking for a hot shower to pass the time you’re sadly out of luck. If you still use a traditional tanked hot water heater, you probably still have a full tank that can supply you with a bit of hot water, but once that’s all gone you’re sunk.
  • Sump pumps. Sump pumps also go down when the power is out, and unfortunately this might be the worst news on this entire page. Storms mean rain, and rain is what you wanted the pump for in the first place! This is one of the appliances we always recommend you run to a generator to keep your basement from flooding during an outage.
  • Potentially, toilets. Most toilets operate on gravity and water pressure, which means they’re going to work fine. But, there are some models out there that are assisted by a pump in order to generate a strong enough flow, and if yours is one you need to know that.

Certified Plumbers in Alexandria & Fairfax

Is your home plumbing in good shape and ready to handle an outage? Contact the plumbing specialists at HVAC Unlimited if you need plumbing repair, plumbing installations, or to find out more about your plumbing in Virginia! You can reach us online, or feel free to dial (703) 493-1200!

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