Maintenance, Prevention & Troubleshooting
Maintenance and Prevention
According to the EPA, the average household loses more than 10,000 gallons of water each year through leaks – that’s the same amount of water needed to wash 280 loads of laundry, take 600 showers or meet the average family’s water needs for a month! Some leaks are slow and hard to detect, but even the smallest leaks add up.
Scottsdale Water and the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association have created a step-by-step Smart Home Water Guide to help you find leaks that are draining your budget and provide you with tips for efficient home water use.
The Smart Home Water Guide water guide is available through the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) website, or you can request a hard copy of this and other Water Conservation publications online or by calling 480-312-5650.
Over time, fats, oils and grease (FOG) from everyday cooking can clog the pipes in your home and in the public sewer system. FOG and food particles poured down the sink solidify in your pipes, eventually causing blockages that can send untreated wastewater backwards – out of manholes or back into your house! Overflows can create serious public health hazards, damage property and cause odor issues and expensive repairs. Helpful tips to prevent FOG from entering the drain:
- Pour cooking oils and grease into a small container with absorbent material, such as a paper towel or coffee grounds, and dispose of it in the trash.
- Scrape food from dishes into the trash (not the garbage disposal) and wipe down greasy plates, pots and pans with a paper towel before washing.
- Prevent food from entering your sewer by covering your kitchen sink drain with a strainer and limiting your use of garbage disposals.
- Limit your use of garbage disposals to reduce food particles that contribute to blockages.
- Using hot water to wash grease down the drain is not a solution. The grease will eventually cool and solidify in your sewer pipes.
Frozen water in pipes can lead to expensive repairs, but a few simple preventative measures can help avoid many common problems homeowners face during extreme cold temperatures.
Protect Your Pipes
- Wrap any exposed pipes outside or in unheated areas of your home with some type of temporary insulation (a towel, blanket, small rug, etc.)
- Remove garden hoses from outside faucets
- Cover vents around the foundation of your home
- If you have a pool, set your timer for the pump to run between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Running water won’t freeze.
- Turn off drip irrigation and sprinkler systems.
- Know where your property owner’s cut-off valve is located and how to use it. The valve is located adjacent to the water meter box.
- Drip outside faucets 24 hours a day (5 drops per minute). This is not necessary unless temperatures are expected to be 28 degrees or below for at least 4 hours. (Be sure to turn off the faucets after the threat of freezing weather.)
- Open cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls.
What do I do if my pipes are frozen?
- If you turn on your outside hose faucet and no water comes out, it’s likely your pipes have frozen. Check with a neighbor to see if they have water coming out of their hose faucet.
- If your pipes are frozen and are located in an area where they will get some sunshine they should thaw by mid-morning. If your pipes are frozen and are located in a shaded area it is likely that they will not thaw until after midday.
- If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve and contact a licensed plumbing professional.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house.
Scottsdale Water manages a very aggressive sewer roach control program. We were one of the first cities to utilize an insecticide similar to latex paint that coats the walls of sanitary sewer manholes, eliminating the manholes as prime breeding grounds. Each treatment is effective for up to three years, but Scottsdale treats every manhole in the city every other year.
- Roaches can enter your home in a number of ways – through air ducts, sewer cleanouts and cracks or openings in the foundation.
- They prefer dark, moist places and can slip into through spaces as thin as a dime.
- Without a consistent food or water supply, they’ll quickly find another place to inhabit.
- Once inside your home, drains provide an ideal living environment for them.
Tips for Controlling Roaches in Your Home
- Keep drains covered if not used for long periods of time.
- Attach properly fitted door sweeps
- Store food, including pet food, in tightly sealed containers.
- Pour ½ cup of bleach down drains to keep them from drying out.
- Using a professional exterminating company to regularly treat your home both inside and out is encouraged. One-time treatments usually only provide temporary reductions.
- Check boxes and cartons before bringing them in from storage.
Typically, service lines from the water meter to your home and the sewer main to your home are the property and responsibility of the homeowner. Service lines are generally very reliable and require little maintenance. They are also often covered under homeowner’s insurance policies.
There are a number of private insurance companies that offer additional service line warranties. This type of insurance is a personal choice and we encourage you to check your current homeowner’s policy before purchasing additional insurance or adding a warranty.
Scottsdale Water does not endorse or recommend any specific insurance or warranty company.
There are several reasons why a customer may be experiencing an interruption in water service.
Water line break
Water Operations crews occasionally must shut down a water main that serves several homes or businesses to make repairs to a broken water line. Temporarily suspending water service to our customers is a last resort, but is often necessary to avoid further damage to the water system and/or the property where the break occurred. We make every attempt to notify customers before temporarily suspending water service. In emergency situations, we may be forced to make an immediate shut down before notifying customers.
To determine if your water has been temporarily suspended due to water main repairs, please contact customer care at 480-312-5650.
Scheduled service disruption
In rare circumstances, construction or improvement projects may require brief water service disruptions. Contractors are required to notify customers of any upcoming interruption in water service, unless it is an emergency situation. When Water Resources has scheduled a water line repair, a notice will be left on your door advising of the date and times the service will be out for repairs. For questions regarding a scheduled water shut down, please contact 480-312-5650.
Customers who have a delinquent utility bill will be notified of a turn-off date prior to shut down. If your water service has been turned off for nonpayment, please contact Revenue Recovery at 480-312-2705.
The water pressure in Scottsdale’s drinking water system ranges between 40 psi and about 120 psi due to variations in elevation? If you want to find out your water pressure, Scottsdale Water has water pressure gauges that can be checked out, free of charge. Stop by our offices between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 9312 N. 94th Street to check one out.
The most common cause of low or fluctuating water pressure is typically high water demand. To help reduce fluctuating water pressure at your home or business, we recommend scheduling your outdoor watering during off-peak times, typically between 7 and 9 a.m. and 4 and 7 p.m. daily.
Other causes of changes in water pressure include:
- A break in a nearby water line. In the event of a main break, Scottsdale Water crews may reduce the pressure in nearby water lines to help crews make repairs faster and avoid potential damage to the city’s water system or the property where the break occurred.
- Fluctuation due to your home’s pressure regulating valve (PRV). This valve protects your home’s plumbing from failing if there are extreme changes in water pressure and is required on all new buildings since 1995. If your home or business was built before 1995 and your water pressure is consistently 80 psi or higher, we encourage you to consider having a licensed plumber install a PRV to help protect your plumbing. Over time, PRVs can get stuck open or closed, which can also vary water pressure. A licensed plumber can evaluate your PRV.
- Problems with an appliance, such as a water softening device. Check your water pressure at the hose bib located at the front of your house. If there is good pressure at this location, it is likely due to an appliance that uses water to operate. We suggest bypassing this appliance and then rechecking your water pressure. If the pressure resumes after bypassing this appliance, the appliance is the likely culprit.
If you continue to experience low water pressure, contact customer care at 480-312-5650.
There are several reasons your water bill may be higher than normal, the most common of which are a malfunctioning irrigation system or a leaky pipe or toilet. It is possible, however, that the problem is related to the water meter. To find out, follow these steps to conduct a meter flow test.
- Make sure everything that uses water in your home is not in use.
- Go to your water meter (usually located in the front of your property near the street or sidewalk) and lift the lid with a screwdriver. Beware of critters!
- Look for an odometer-style dial and a sweep hand. Record the numbers and the position of the sweep hand.
- Don’t use any water for at least 30 minutes and then take a second recording. If you used no water, the two readings should be the same.
- If the reading has changed or the sweep hand or triangle has moved, something on the property is pulling water through the meter and you most likely have a leak.
The first step in dealing with a sewer backup is determining where the problem is in the system. The city is responsible for the sewer main line, while the customer is responsible for maintenance and repair of the sewer lateral, which is all the piping extending from the sewer main line to the house.
Scottsdale Water can send a crew to help determine where the backup is originating. If it is determined to be in the main line, the city will make the repairs to the system and process any property damage claims through Risk Management.
If the problem is determined to be in the sewer lateral, which includes the tap (the sleeve that connects the house service line to the sewer main line), the property owner will be responsible for the sewer repair.
If you need assistance in identifying the location of the backup, please contact customer service at 480-312-5650.