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hydrant flushing

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You have probably seen open fire hydrants spraying water everywhere from time to time, most likely during the late spring or early summer. While this does look like a waste of water, it is actually an important bit of routine maintenance that can improve a community’s water distribution system.

Even though modern plumbing and sewer systems are perfectly safe, water can still stagnate within the pipes and collect sediment and contaminants as it flows through them. Things like chlorine, salt, and calcium deposits can damage plumbing and contaminate water if it is left unchecked, so it is important that as much of it is removed as possible. While it is technically impossible to completely purify all of the water in an entire town’s distribution system, opening some of the fire hydrants and flushing them out will help get rid of stagnant water and ensure that the hydrants and any plumbing attached to them keeps working efficiently.

Hydrant flushing is also an important part of fire flow testing. The water pressure within a fire hydrant needs to be high enough to extinguish a fire, and the best way to measure that pressure is to open the hydrant itself. It is technically different from the routine flushing that all hydrants require, but it will look very similar to the untrained eye.

What to Do During and After Flushing

If you see a maintenance crew flushing a fire hydrant in your neighborhood, drive carefully past the hydrant. Several gallons of water are being sprayed into the street, and that can make for some dangerous driving. If hydrants are being flushed near your home, hold off on doing any laundry or anything else that will require a large amount of water.

There is occasionally some discoloration in tap water during and after a hydrant flush. If this happens, simply wait several minutes before running your water again. Let the water in your faucet run for a few minutes to allow new water to work its way into your pipes. After that, your water should be clear.

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