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Flushing FAQ's

Q: What is fire hydrant flushing?
A: Flushing is an important preventative maintenance activity that helps to ensure the overall health of our water distribution system. Sediment in the system naturally occurs over time, flushing allows these materials to dislodge from the main. Without proper maintenance, these materials can create water quality issues such as taste, odor, stagnate and discoloration of our water supply.

Q: Why is flushing important?
A: Flushing is necessary to ensure our system is running at its best, allowing water to effectively flow through our distribution system as needed. Flushing removes sediment build up from inside the water pipes improving water quality. Flushing also verifies that hydrants and valves are in proper working condition, providing adequate flow and operation in the event of a fire, while also drawing attention to possible vulnerable points within the system.

Q: When does flushing occur?
A: HWSA typically performs flushing at the end of the summer heading into the fall season. However, sometimes flushing is necessary in the spring.

Q: How will flushing affect my water?
A: During flushing, water customers may experience a brief period of discolored or cloudy water and/or water pressure variances. While we hope you experience neither, these occurrences may not be aesthetically pleasing to look at; nevertheless, they are normal and are not harmful.

Q: Can you tell me exactly when my neighborhood will be flushed?
A: Unfortunately HWSA is unable to provide an exact date or time. As with any project, schedules may change dependent on weather, conditions and unforeseen issues.

Q: How long does it take to flush a hydrant?
A: Times may vary, though it typically takes approximately 15 minutes per hydrant.

Q: What should I do if I am driving past a flushing site?
A: Stay alert, watch our workers and proceed with care. Heavy water may be flowing from the hydrant, drive slowly and carefully on the impacted roadway, as there is a chance of ponding water in the roadway.

Q: How should I prepare for flushing?
A: While not necessary, some customers may prefer to have water available for cooking, drinking and doing other household duties during the flushing period. Ahead of flushing, you may wish to store water in proper household bottles and containers.

Q: Can I still use my water service during flushing?
A: It is highly recommended that you avoid water use while crews are flushing in your area. Opening taps may draw discolored water into your homes internal plumbing system.

Q: When and what should I avoid during flushing?
A: HWSA highly recommends that you refrain from using the water in your home as well as abstain from doing laundry. HWSA recommends refraining from use when crews are noticeable in your neighborhood. During your flushing period, if you do not see crews it is best to inspect for water changes prior to proceeding with normal water use.

Q: What can I expect once flushing is completed?
A: Air and/or sediment may become trapped in the water lines during flushing. Customers may experience lingering water disturbances such as cloudy, discolored, milky, bubbly water, these are all normal occurrences found after flushing has concluded. To alleviate any of these systems, running cold water from the lowest fixture in the home, for a few minutes should allow the water to settle and run clear. If water pressure differences remain, inspect all faucet screens, washers and aerators for trapped debris. In very rare cases, some customers may experience persistent discoloration, if this occurs please call the Authority office at 215-672-8011.

Q: Is my water safe to use/drink after flushing?
A: Yes. Customers who experience water variations during flushing typically prefer to wait until the water has cleared to resume using it for potable purposes.

Q: Who can operate a hydrant?
A: HWSA personnel, their authorized agents and firefighters are the only persons permitted to operate our hydrants. If you observe anyone other than those listed operating a hydrant, please contact our office immediately at 215-672-8011 or the Horsham Police Department. Unauthorized use of a hydrant is theft of service. Stealing water can create health and safety issues as well as higher usage rates for our customers.

Q: What is sediment in the water system?
A: Minerals naturally occur in the water system. Certain reactions occur between the minerals and the water pipes to produce sediment. This is a normal reaction process. Sediment can create build up which can restrict water flow and prevent acceptable demand, which is why flushing is a crucial part of our preventative maintenance plan.

Q: Does flushing waste water?
A: Water is precious, and while some folks may consider flushing wasteful, it is extremely effective in keeping our system safe, compliant and functional. Our field staff are trained to keep water waste to a minimal. Records are kept to ensure the water used during hydrant flushing is accounted for.

Q: Why would I be experiencing discolored water during a time of the year that is not indicative of routine hydrant flushing?
A: From time to time customers may experience discolored water due to unforeseen circumstances outside of HWSA’s control. These incidences include but are not limited to water main breaks, unauthorized opening of a hydrant, emergency system maintenance, and emergency and non-emergency fire department use. While HWSA makes every effort possible to inform customers of the potential for discolored water sometimes, we are unable to provide efficient timely notice. If you notice discolored water HWSA encourages customers to contact our office immediately; this allows us to discuss whether there is a known disturbance or if we need to investigate further.