Friday, December 11th, 2015

Hot Water Heaters, Drinking Water & Power Outages

It’s not if, it’s when. Be prepared. 
For some reason, power outages in our urban Cincinnati neighborhood are common. Seemingly, our household power relies on a transformer that is frequently knocked out by traffic accidents. Outages typically last from a few minutes to hours, but have been known to last for days (THANKS, Hurricane Ike). With winter on the horizon, a good ice storm can put my neighborhood in the dark for hours.

When outages happen, it’s important to have a plan on how to handle them. According to Creek Stewart, Eagle Scout and thoughtful host of The Weather Channel’s “Fat Guys in the Woods”, humans can live 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.

In plumbing, we think about water constantly. Clean, readily available drinking water is essential to our well-being. Below are a few tips on how your household plumbing can help get you through an emergency scenario.

• Always on Hand. Hot water tanks hold 40-50 gallons of potable water. It’s might be hot, but it’s definitely drinkable in an emergency.
• Have 1-2 clean pails (with handles) on hand so water drained from the hot water heater tank can be safely transported/handled.
• If your water heater has sediment in the bottom, keep a strainer or cheese cloth on hand and use it to filter the sediment away from the water.
• Drain water from the water heater tank with care – it’s HOT and can burn you.

Flush with discretion – “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” Most city-dwellers will have plenty of water to ensure toilet flushability in an emergency (THANKS, Cincinnati Water Works). Rural residents who obtain their water from a well, however, understand the need to conserve. Well-based water requires an electrically powered pump; if the power is out, so is the pump. If the mellow yellow adage gives your kids and/or spouse the willies (THANKS, sanitized modern American society), candidly talk about it and practice it for a few hours. It’s no one’s favorite approach, but it may be one of necessity and everyone has to be able to work with it.

Cooking Needs – Whether it’s for cooking or clean up, water is a mealtime necessity. It’s good to keep some on hand – it stores for a long period of time. In our home, we buy store-brand small bottles by the 24-pack and keep them in the pantry. It’s the best $2.89 investment we make each week. Note: Never store water in a previously used milk jug. The milk odor/flavor will transfer to the water. Yuck.

Bathtubs Store LOTS of Water – There’s a useful under $25 gadget on the market known as a “waterBob” – it’s a plastic reservoir that fits neatly inside of a bathtub and cleanly stores up to 100 gallons of water.

Furnace Not Working? Hot water bottles make good bed warmers. During outages, we have water and natural gas with which to run the stove (THANKS, Duke Energy), but our furnace requires electricity. If the power is out, our furnace is out. In winter weather, our 1920’s era home gets cold quickly. A good quick fix is to fill the kids’ water bottles with hot water (make sure they are tightly sealed) and toss them between the sheets to warm things up a bit.

Water You Waiting For? At Allied Reddi-Rooter, we firmly believe in the importance of “always on”, clean, fresh water. If you would like to count on your water heater as an emergency clean water source, our trained professionals can assist with a water header flush, anode rod replacement, or new water heater installation. Call Ray today for a free quote. (513) 396-5300.