Forecast: Heavy Rain & Potential Plumbing Problems
Living in a temperate climate like that of northwestern Washington state has its benefits — the lush vegetation and stunning Olympic landscape being chief among them. However, those that choose to make their home in this beautiful-yet-extraordinarily-wet part of the world face some extra challenges when it comes to keeping their plumbing and water systems functioning in the face of heavy precipitation and damp weather conditions.
Below, we’ll chat about some of the ways that serious rainfall can damage plumbing – arming you with the knowledge to look out for and prevent serious issues in your Pacific Northwest home.
Cracking Under the Pressure
Heavy rainfall creates an immense amount of pressure — not only directly on your pipes, but on everything around them. Rainwater is absorbed by the surrounding sand and dirt, creating a heavy mud that enormously increases the force and weight on your plumbing.
The result of extreme pressure is often cracking, which can pose a major problem and multiply into a litany of other nuisances throughout your house and yard if not addressed right away – including the chilling potential for water supply mains to burst and sewage lines to collapse and send accumulated dirty wastewater back into your home through your clogged drains.
If you know or suspect you have a cracked, leaking pipe, you should turn your water main off immediately and contact a local plumber who can assess and address the damage as soon as possible. While it may seem like a big to-do in the moment, particularly in older homes, professional re-piping can be a life-changing upgrade that will save you tons of potential [larger] headaches down the road.
Moving and Shaking
In addition to creating physical pressure, softened, muddy earth can cause pipes to shift underground – out of their original positions and into shapes that are structurally unsound. This pressure can also impact your home’s foundation, the movement from which can affect pipes in walls and floors. Bent lines have several problematic implications for your plumbing system – chief among them breakage from new, unstable positions or blockages from recently obstructed pathways.
While most homes in the Seattle area are built with impressively sturdy piping systems in anticipation of the terra not-so-firma caused by the region’s signature downpours, homeowners should still be vigilant in noticing conditions and signs of damage to their water systems. Symptoms like outrageously high water bills, unpleasant odors, poor water pressure and/or quality can all indicate larger problems of the ruptures generated by warped and relocated mains.
Beyond leaky plumbing, another unfortunate result of pipelines shifting and/or cracking is the potential for debris to find its way into your pipes. Clogs from rocks, soil and silt can wreak havoc on your sewer lines, and if left to build into major blockages, can cause sewer water to back up into your home’s basement or crawl space or into the lowest sinks, toilets, and showers.
Drain clearing can prevent such damage, and getting regular assessments (or, at the very least, after excess precipitation and/or indications of improperly functioning water apparatuses in the house) is always a good idea.
Another eager tenant for compromised pipes, tree roots are one of the most tenacious threats to your plumbing and sewage system once they’ve sustained structural damage. Roots seek to absorb the nutrients passing through underground sewer pipelines, and will happily and gradually begin to grow inside of them once they’ve forced entry.
The only good news is that this steady progress should give you the chance to observe and notice the damage if you know what to look out for — during periods of heavy rainfall, keep an eye on your bathroom. If the toilet bowl seems to be filling up after an empty flush, or your shower is draining unusually slowly, you could be seeing the effects of something slowly but surely clogging your drainpipes.
Opening the Floodgates
Many homes in the greater Seattle area boast gorgeous yards and landscaping — it’s one of the perks of living in a spacious state with excellent growing conditions for all types of flora.
If you’re the lucky owner of outdoor space in one of the rainiest states in the continental U.S., however, you do need to be prepared for the increased possibility of flooding. While puddles in your grass or garden after a rainstorm may seem like a temporary inconvenience, they are likely to indicate a lack of proper drainage on your property.
If your land cannot correctly drain and channel rainwater in a wet climate, it leaves your home extremely vulnerable to flooding, which in turn can damage your driveway, deck or porch, and even the very foundation on which your house is built. Excessive rainfall also causes soil saturation and hydrostatic pressure (or water pressure) in the earth and loam surrounding your basement walls and floor, which forces through moisture and can create cracks and damage to your substructure as the soil expands.
If you notice puddles or flooding, tasking a professional plumber to take measures such as installing an area drain could be one of the most crucial investments you make for the safety and longevity of your home and property.
What You Can Do
As mentioned above, increased risks for rainy water damage is simply a small price you pay for living in the incomparable Evergreen State. And while new builds with updated, advanced plumbing are fast becoming a norm, there’s no reason that any structure can’t be liveable and realistic to care for with the right tools and information.
Luckily, anyone can take moisture maintenance into their own hands – with a bit of care, attentiveness and the help of a plumber you trust, preserving the integrity of your home and plumbing system is a totally attainable reality. Being mindful of changes to the water-based appliances in your home — particularly your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room and garden – as well as to your water bill and lawn, is a simple yet powerful way to ensure that you’re ready to act when you notice something out of the ordinary. If you’re able to catch an issue early and get professional help, you’ll reap the benefits of a durable, problem-resistant property for years to come.
Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service