M2=H2: U is for Utilities

Although we have talked about your utilities in terms of maintenance you, as a homeowner can do, sometimes there are utility issues for which you must call the utility company to repair. These issues include broken water or sewer pipes outside your home, gas leaks and external electric line problems.


WATER OR SEWER PIPES: A signal that the water main in your area has broken could be excessively wet ground when it has not rained, water bubbling up from the ground or even subsidence (sinkholes). If you notice such signs, contact your water company to report the problem. When a water main breaks, homeowners in that area will need to boil any water before ingesting it. Boil water advisories are normally broadcast on radio and television. Do not stop boiling the water until you receive notice that it is ok to do so. Some utility companies will send text or email alerts to customers when such a problem arises.

Older sewer pipes can also break. A warning sign you could have would be your waste water not draining normally. If a broken sewer pipe is on your property, you may be responsible for paying for the repair. Usually, the sewer main in the street is repaired by your community.

GAS: Natural gas and propane, while convenient, may have some hazards. Whether you have a gas line from a utility company or you have your own tank, if there is a gas leak, you must evacuate the house. Gas is highly combustible, and even a simple electrical spark from a light switch can ignite it. Gas suppliers add a sulfuric, rotten egg scent to the gas, because it is easy to notice. If you smell this odor, IMMEDIATELY leave the home. DO NOT flip any switches, unplug anything or use a phone. Wait until you are outside before you call for help.

If you have allergies or a cold, you may not smell the sulfuric warning odor. You can buy a gas detector which will sound an alarm if gas levels are above safe limits.

Gas leaks can also occur outside of your home. Signs of a broken gas line are dirt blowing up from the ground or a hissing sound. You will need to take care digging in your yard if there is a gas line passing through it. Before you dig, call 811 for the National Underground Service Alert Network. This service will mark utility lines on your property for free, so you know which areas to avoid.

Finally, another hazard of gas is carbon monoxide, an odorless gas which is produced by burning natural gas. High concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air of your home can be fatal. It is wise to install a carbon monoxide sensor in any area where you use a gas appliance.

ELECTRIC: Occasionally, a storm may sever your electrical service via downed wires from trees, ice and snow. If you see a wire on the ground, do not go near it. Live wires can electrocute you. Instead, call your electrical provider to report the outage or the downed wire. Many electric companies will estimate the repair time and offer to call you when the service is restored.

Another potential problem with your electrical service occurs when your house settles. As the house settles, the conduit and collar which connects your electric meter to your house may become damaged. If this happens, you may still have electrical service, but you will notice that wires are exposed at your meter. Because this is a hazard, you will need to call an electrician to repair the exposed wires.


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