COVID-19 and Residential Plumbing
The current COVID-19 pandemic has many Americans on edge. Stay-at-home orders have been in effect across the nation for weeks now, and many states don’t have a precise date set to lift those orders. With so many people working from home, many homeowners’ residential plumbing is being used more now than ever before. However, other homeowners may be wondering if their plumbing makes them susceptible to the novel coronavirus.
Is It Safe To Drink Tap Water During Coronavirus?
Yes, it is safe to drink water from the tap during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “[t]he COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual..” However, the EPA also recommends taking care to protect the nation’s water infrastructure by ensuring proper usage at all times.
What Can Go Down the Drain?
One of the best ways homeowners can ensure that their plumbing works properly is to ensure nothing goes down the drain that isn’t supposed to.
Can Hot Grease Go Down the Drain?
No, grease cannot go down the drain. Some people believe that if you run the hot water before and after pouring oil down the drain that it won’t affect your plumbing. However, that is not true. Never pour grease down the drain. Once it cools, the fats will solidify and can cause significant damage to your pipes.
Can I Flush Wet Wipes Down the Toilet?
No, you cannot flush wet wipes down the toilet. Even wipes marketed as “flushable” aren’t safe for your plumbing. Wet wipes cause ragging within your home’s plumbing system. Ragging occurs when wet wipes and other debris such as floss or tampons get caught up with each other, which causes a clog in the plumbing.
Can I Flush Tampons Down the Toilet?
No, you cannot flush tampons down the toilet. Tampons, along with other debris within the plumbing system, can contribute to ragging. To be safe, the only thing that should go down the toilet, other than waste, is toilet paper.
Are Plumbers Considered “Essential” During the Coronavirus?
Yes, plumbers are considered essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic. On March 16th, 2020, the White House released the following statement about essential critical infrastructure workers such as plumbers: “If you work in the critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” Plumbers across the United States have been encouraged to maintain normal operations during this time. This classification means that plumbers can still perform their work duties as long as they follow CDC-recommended guidelines for social distancing to protect themselves and others.
Guidelines for Plumbers During Coronavirus
If you need to hire a plumber during this time, rest assured that there are guidelines in place to help protect you and your plumber from exposure to the novel coronavirus. The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials issued a letter on March 11th, 2020, detailing the risks of coronavirus exposure for plumbing industry professionals. The IAPMO recommends that anyone “working on a sanitary drainage system [should assume] that the virus is present.” Since plumbers do come into contact with dangerous pathogens such as fecal matter, it’s critical that industry professionals take care to prevent contact with wastewater. Proper hand and arm hygiene are paramount. The IAPMO recommends that plumbers:
- Review OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations in place to protect construction workers, including plumbers. The standards are available for review here.
- Review ASSE International’s Series 12000 Standard. The American Society of Safety Engineers has made its ASSE Series 12000 Standard available for free here. The ASSE 1200 training addresses viruses, including the SARS virus, but it does not have specific information about COVID-19. The ASSE recommends that plumbers consider completing this professional qualification for risk assessment, especially contractors who may potentially work on sanitary systems in healthcare facilities or hospitals.
- Use common sense. IAPMO suggests that plumbers increase their frequency of handwashing and wash for at least twenty seconds with soap and water and even longer after coming into contact with wastewater.
- Avoid sharing tools. IAPMO recommends that all plumbers avoid sharing tools to the “greatest extent possible.”
- Immediately report respiratory symptoms. If any plumber believes that they are exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, they should stay home and immediately notify their supervisor and doctor to protect coworkers and customers.
Can a Plumber Come to My House During Coronavirus?
Yes, you can still call plumbers for repair services during the COVID-19 crisis. Plumbers are considered critical infrastructure workers and, as such, are classified as an “essential” service during the stay-at-home order in Washington State. If you have a plumbing emergency in Vancouver, WA, call the professionals at Summit Plumbing.
How Can Summit Plumbing Help You?
We here at Summit Plumbing are committed to helping our customers in the safest way possible during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are following all state and CDC-recommended guidelines concerning the spread of the novel coronavirus, and we are observing social distancing measures. Call today for comprehensive plumbing services, including emergency plumbing repair!