Did you know that you could live for almost two weeks without food? Do you know how long you’d be able to live without water?
Stick around to the end of this blog and find out!
In our part of the modern world, we take the supply of clean, potable water for granted. Even though plumbing concepts for water delivery and sewage removal date back to ancient Egypt, it has only been within the last 150 years that centralized city water delivery has been a standard. Big cities like Philadelphia started public water services using cast-iron pipes in 1810, with the White House waiting an additional twenty-three years to get running water.
Today, we expect to open our taps and find clean, fresh water there every time. When the water refuses to flow, people get cranky. No coffee. No showers. No laundry is getting done. It’s a stressful situation to lose access to water, but fortunately, you have Nick’s Plumbing to call on and get your plumbing situation straightened out fast.
Honey, Wake Up, There’s No Water.
If you’ve never been roused from a sound sleep while it’s still dark outside by those six ominous words from a spouse, count yourself among the lucky ones. Just know this; your time is coming. Anyone that’s ever owned a home, rented a house, or lived anywhere with plumbing has started at least one day of their life with an unforeseen plumbing emergency.
It’s kind of like a rite of passage into adulthood.
You don’t have to panic yet. There are several potential causes for your lack of water, and not all of them are catastrophic and costly. Before jumping on the phone to call a professional plumbing company, take a deep breath and follow this brief troubleshooting guide for diagnosing your lack of water issues.
1. Check Other Faucets.
When you suspect water is off in the home, the first thing to do is to check several faucets, at least one in every bathroom, the kitchen, laundry areas, etc. Check outdoor spigots, as supply lines for outdoor water delivery often bypass the home’s plumbing entirely. If you know where your water meter is located –they’re usually well-marked and accessible—you can check it to see if the dial is moving, which indicates you have a leak if you’ve turned off the main supply valve for the main supply line to the house.
2. Phone-A-Friend (and the Utility Company).
If you find that the water is off to the entire house, ask a neighbor if their water is off as well, which could mean problems with the city water main. Check your latest water bill for an emergency number for your service provider and give them a call to let them know that more than one home on your block is without water.
3. Look for Signs of Leaks.
It doesn’t take long for a broken water supply line to cause thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Residential water supply lines are pressurized at around 50 pounds per square inch, and when they break can release as much as 10 gallons of water every minute. Depending on where the break occurs, that amount of water can damage walls, floors, carpets, family heirlooms, and anything else in its path in minutes.
While you’re waiting for the plumbing company to arrive would be an excellent time to assess these areas of your home for evidence of leaks. All these spots should be inspected with water supply lines behind walls, above ceilings, in attics, garages, and underneath your home’s foundation.
Locate & Turn Off the Main Water Supply Valve.
Let’s suppose your “no water” woes are confined to a single sink, and the water in the rest of the house is flowing freely. Now would be a good time to know how to locate your main water supply valve and how to shut it off. There are several videos available online that can be helpful if you’re unsure of the location of your main water shut-off valve.
Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security if you can’t visually see water leaking when you have no water. If you have a severe leak somewhere in the home, it’s only a matter of minutes before thousands of dollars worth of damage can occur.
Most Common Causes for No Water in the House.
1. City Supply is Cut Off
There can be several reasons that you’ve lost most or all your regular water service, and the first one everyone thinks of is a neglected bill. If you live in a home that shares a common water line with another house on the property that is behind on their bills, you could also lose your water services to a service suspension.
In situations like we experienced during the historic deep freeze of February 2021, many smaller cities around Texas (Abilene, for example) opted to shut down water services completely. The main reason was that the lack of power compromised the operation of water treatment plants, allowing for the possibility of water-borne illnesses.
The secondary benefit of a total shut down of a water system during cold weather is it helps prevent freezing and bursting pipes, both in city supply lines and in residential and commercial buildings.
2. Broken Meter-to-House Line
Water leaks never seem to occur where they can be easily observed with the naked eye, and the line from your city water meter to your home is almost completely obscured. Leading from the output side of your city water meter, the pressurized line is buried approximately 3 feet underground. The main water line enters your home through a 3/4” or 1” pipe that is interrupted by the supply shut-off valve.
Unless you’re experiencing a complete interruption of water service or severely low water pressure, it could take days or weeks before you notice a broken main water line. Every homeowner should know where their water meter is located and the path that the main water line travels to reach the home. Any soggy ground or exceptionally green, lush sections of the lawn along that path need to be investigated for a possible main water line leak.
3. Mineral Build-Up in Supply Lines.
Usually a problem found in older homes that still have their original plumbing lines and fixtures, mineral buildup can completely restrict the flow of water supply lines. Mineral buildups do not occur overnight, and it can take decades before the line is completely blocked. Most homeowners who end up with mineral blockages in their mainline often report months –or even years—of low water pressure that got worse over time. There is no way to clear the line, as you would be able to with a sewer or drain pipe using an auger or hydro-jetting it.
Older homes that are still employing any part of their early twentieth-century plumbing systems are courting disaster. Have your local, experienced, and licensed plumbing technician take a look at your exposed plumbing and determine what steps you can take to prevent leaks, clogs, and water pressure issues.
Nick’s Plumbing has been plugging Houston’s water leaks and replacing their residential plumbing systems for over forty years. With hundreds of five-star reviews on every social media platform, Nick’s strives for customer satisfaction from the time we answer the phone until the job is done to your satisfaction.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. You’ll only last three days without water.
Call Nick’s today. We’re on the Way!