No Water Pressure. Now What?

handwashImagine turning on the faucet in your shower or kitchen sink only to discover that you have no water or limited water pressure. Not something we want to experience personally, but happening with greater frequency to homeowners as we “weather” the 2015 winter.

What should you do?

  • Check other water sources in your home to determine the severity of the issue.
  • Ask neighbors if their water pressure is low or if they have no running/flowing water
  • Call your local water utility or check their website to determine if there is an interruption in service in your neighborhood of which they are aware.
  • Low or limited flow from water sources inside the house could mean a problem between the house and the water meter.
  • If you are using a pressure-reducing valve installed on your water supply,  remove it to restore pressure.
  • Low pressure at a single faucet can be caused by a defective aerator (the screen that covers the faucet where the water exits), which can easily be removed and cleaned.
  • Water pooling in your yard could be indicative of a clogged line, which impacts the flow.

If there are problems with hot water pressure but not cold, it could mean a problem with the hot water heater. Make sure the shutoff valve is completely open to restore pressure/flow. And, check the master shutoff valve as well to ensure it is open. The master valve provides pressure to all of the water sources in your home.

If your pipes are frozen, you probably have no water or flow of water is reduced to a trickle. Should this be the case, chances are the water lines outside your home are frozen, are leaking or the line could be broken. If you are a Service Line Warranties customer, call 866-922-9004 to report the problem.  If you are not a customer, you need to find a plumber as soon as possible! Check www.homeadvisor.com to locate one in your area.

Great sources of information on water pressure:
Get an answer from a handyman now
Plumbing QA
Solving Low Water Pressure Problems

4 Reasons to Purchase a Water or Sewer Line Warranty

#1 – Failing Infrastructure

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently gave a D (D = Poor) rating to America’s water and wastewater public infrastructure. Homeowners’ water and sewer lines are subjected to the same conditions as the lines that make up the public infrastructure – age, root invasion, ground shifting, fluctuating temperatures and more. While government is addressing the public infrastructure, homeowners are responsible for the cost of repairs to the service lines located on their properties. These repairs can cost between $1,300 to upwards of $3,500, which can be hard on a family budget. With a warranty, the homeowner is covered for the repair costs to fix water and sewer lines that have failed due to normal wear and tear.

#2 – Emergency Repairs are Expensive 

A recent study by the Federal Reserve suggested that more than 50% of individuals surveyed could not afford a hypothetical emergency expense of $400 without selling belongings or borrowing money. Homeowners work hard for their money and it’s no secret that the expense of owning a home adds up over time. In fact, the study by the Federal Reserve also revealed that “more than a third of all respondents said they were worse off financially than five years ago.” With credit hard to come by and many of those eligible for retirement unprepared, expensive repairs are just not in the budget.

When evaluating monthly expenses, such as a water or sewer line warranty program, it’s important for a homeowner to consider what they have in savings and what they can honestly spend each month for protection. For homeowners with limited resources, a few dollars a month to provide peace of mind could outweigh the risk of “if” a failure would ever occur, considering just over half of the survey respondents were putting some portion of their income away in savings and only 39% said they had a rainy day fund.

#3 – Finding a Contractor Can Be Difficult

It can be difficult to find a contractor you can trust to do the job right the first time. According to Rob and Rodman, “There are lots of folks who call themselves contractors, but many of those that do aren’t going to make you happy so brace yourself for an ordeal. Don’t for one second think that someone who arrives well dressed in a nice truck has a clue. They may simply have an MBA, know how the money works, and have enough sense to look like what passes as a contractor.”

Lifehacker.com suggests, “You can’t cut corners here—there are plenty of bad handymen out there willing to do shoddy work and charge you a ton of money, and they give the good ones who are eager for your business a bad name.” With a service line warranty, the vetting has been done, so you know that the contractor sent to make the repair has proper licenses and insurance and is located within the area.

The Service Line Warranties of Canada Warranty Program only uses contractors that have successfully passed a rigorous background check, maintain proper licensing and insurance as the warranty program representative and are committed to providing exceptional customer service.

#4 – Water Conservation and Ground Pollution Prevention

Homeowners with a service line warranty are more likely to report a problem and have it fixed quickly, which helps with water conservation efforts and prevents ground pollution.

 

My water pipes froze – now what do I do?

Frozen PipeAs bitter cold sets in across the nation, frozen pipes are a frequent problem for many homeowners and businesses. While frozen pipes are common, they are also very preventable during the winter months because a little effort can go a long way in preventing home destruction from a burst water pipe.

Let the heat in.

Plumbing located outside the house is the most susceptible to freezing because of the cold air. If possible, open cabinet doors to let warm air run to the pipes in the kitchen and bathroom. Consider pointing a space heater near the pipes to ensure there is ample heat around the plumbing.

Don’t turn down the thermostat.

Many people turn down the thermostat when heading to bed or work, but winter is not the time to do this. While it could help your heating bill, the chance of frozen pipes is much higher the cooler the house gets. Additionally, if you’re away or sleeping and the pipes burst, it could create more of a mess. During the winter months, nighttime is usually the coldest part of the day which could cause pipes to freeze.

Going on vacation? Don’t turn off the heat, but do turn off the water.

While it may seem like a waste of money to heat a home while you are away, leaving the heat on and set around 50 degrees Fahrenheit will decrease the chance of pipes freezing. To further decrease your odds of frozen pipes, do turn off the water while you’re away. While it’s possible a water pipe could freeze and break while you’re gone, the damage will be less due to the limited water available in the pipe, creating less problems.

A drip can save you from disasters.

During the coldest days, it’s a good idea to leave the faucet trickle to help keep water moving through the pipes. Moving water is more difficult to freeze, thus decreasing the chances of a frozen pipe.

If you suspect you have a frozen pipe, please contact your warranty provider (if applicable) or a local plumber to address the situation. Attempts to unthaw the pipe on your own could cause cracks in the pipe or cause it to burst.

Building Sponge Cities

This is a final file ready for placement.By Cathy Spain

When it rains, stormwater runoff is captured in city storm sewers and eventually empties into rivers, ports and other waterways. Communities use many strategies to prevent, control and treat stormwater. These strategies include reducing impervious surfaces on driveways and sidewalks and creating drought-resistant landscapes to hold and filter water.

The objective is to get the land to act like a sponge and soak up the rainwater and return it to the ground rather than divert it to a sewer. Limiting the flow of stormwater reduces the amount of polluted runoff reaching waterways and prevents treatment facilities from being overwhelmed by combined sewer overflows.

Now urban designers are looking at ways to design and build cities like sponges for another reason – to capture water to counter drought conditions. A recent Morning Edition report on National Public Radio (NPR) reported on efforts to respond to water scarcity in Los Angeles by capturing rainwater and turning it into water for drinking and irrigation.

Woodbury University’s Arid Lands Institute (ALI) is helping developers in the city find the best spots for water to percolate into the ground. An experimental project in one neighborhood is placing bioswales along sidewalks. These are gullies filled with drought-resistant plants. Water collects in the bioswales and filters down into cisterns that are buried below the street. According to ALI, an education, research and outreach center dedicated to design innovation in water-stressed environments, in an average rain year, a city block puts enough water into the ground for approximately 30 families for a year.

Another consideration is the design of roofs. The peaked roof is practical in areas where snow falls. Experts are suggesting that roof designs in arid areas should have a wide mouth that is open to the sky and built to catch rain.

Desert cities may be the first “sponge” cities, but others are likely to follow. The Natural Resource Defense Council’s Climate Change, Water, and Risk report found that 1,100 U.S. counties – one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states – will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century due to climate change.

Cathy Spain is a National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program Advisor and President of The Spain Group. She works with private companies and nonprofits to design, analyze and promote local government programs. She’s held senior management, research and lobbying positions at the National League of Cities, Government Finance Officers Association, Public Risk Database Project and the New York State Assembly.