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Plumbing and Earthquakes: A Few Things to Know

slab-leak-crack-in-foundationSouthern California recently experienced a number of powerful earthquakes, the most powerful in many years. Although we were fortunate to have experience minor damage here in Orange County, these quakes are an important reminder of how we need to be vigilant about earthquake safety and preparedness. There are many resources online to help you prepare your household for emergency situations from quakes. In this post, we want to talk specifically about earthquakes and your plumbing, since the plumbing system is one of the parts of a house most vulnerable to quake damage.

The Earthquake Emergency Shut-Off Valve

If your house uses natural gas in any capacity, please make sure you have an emergency shut-off valve installed for the gas main. These devices are designed to detect seismic activity and immediately shut off the flow of natural gas into the house. This is a vital protection because it not only guards your house, it guards the community. One of the major dangers of earthquakes is the fires that start in their wake—and the majority of these fires are due to gas leaks from broken natural gas piping.

A small quake can cause this valve to shut off the gas, which seems like it’s more of a hassle than anything else. But even small quakes can do damage to gas lines that you may not see, and aftershocks can worsen the damage. It’s a small inconvenience for such important protection. If you have an earthquake shut-off valve and it activates during a small quake, we strongly recommend calling our plumbers in Mission Viejo, CA to inspect the gas piping for damage.

If you don’t currently have an earthquake shut-off valve or aren’t sure if you have one, please call our office for an appointment to check on this and schedule installation service if necessary. In the meantime, make sure you and the rest of your household know the location of the gas valve to the house so you can shut it off immediately in the event of a quake.

Know Where the Water Main Shut-Off Is

Broken water pipes are also a threat after an earthquake, and reacting fast to shut off the water main to the house can help stop extensive water damage. Even a small temblor can snap older pipes, such as plastic polybutylene, and this can turn a minor shaking into major household damage. Locate the shut-off valve (it’s probably near where the water main enters the water meter) and the tool to close it (usually hanging near the valve). Show the rest of your household this location so everyone knows how to shut off the water in an emergency.

You can also have an emergency shut-off valve installed for the water main as well, which will cut off the water main in the event of any type of flooding from the pipes.

Please call our plumbers if you believe that a quake has created a slab leak in your plumbing, as this is one of the most common types of plumbing damage a quake can cause. We’ll locate the leak fast and repair it.

Saddleback Plumbing has proudly served Orange County since 1981. Protect your plumbing from earthquake damage!

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