A graphic about how to handle water pipes in homes that have been vacant for a long time.

The City of Iowa City’s Water Division encourages property owners to flush their plumbing following extended closures. This guidance pertains to commercial buildings, apartments, and private residential properties, and is recommended to help maintain water quality.

Flushing water lines moves fresh water into your plumbing, displacing any water that has been sitting in the pipes during the closure.

The following steps can be taken for smaller, basic building plumbing systems:

  1. Disconnect or bypass any point-of-use treatment equipment (i.e. filters or softeners), and remove faucet aerators.
  2. Flush the service line by locating and opening several cold water faucets closest to the water meter and allow to run for a minimum of 15 minutes. Next, open the remaining cold water faucets in succession and flush for a minimum of 8 minutes each.
  3. Flush all appliances that use water. Run an empty load in the dishwasher, let the water flow through drinking water fixtures, faucets and drinking fountains. Don’t forget to flush kitchen sink sprayers. Empty the ice from the ice maker bin, run and discard two additional batches of ice.
  4. Flush all toilets, spas and water features like fountains. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on filter replacement
  5. Flush your hot water lines starting with the faucet closest to the water heater. Open all hot water faucets in succession and run for 8 minutes. Repeat until hot water is depleted.

Property owners should also flush water down basement floor drains to fill and flush sewer gas traps.

For more specific guidelines related to large or multi-story buildings with complex plumbing systems, visit the following links:

If you have questions about this process, please contact the Water Division at 319-356-5160 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Date of publication

Wednesday, May 20, 2020