How a Plumber Survives an Apocalypse

Far from an apocalypse but 2020 and beyond has been a wild ride. With all the changes in the world, you never know what’s going to happen next. Perhaps some Taxoplasma zombies will take over your neighbourhood, or perhaps World War 3 will begin and leave many people without water running into their home.

You never know what the future has in store, but learning a few tricks and tips from a plumber may help you if you find yourself in a thirsty situation. It may even help save you in a life or death situation!

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The First Step Is Preparation

Here’s a list of essentials that every plumber would keep in his Go-bag:

Multi Tool in Apocalypse

A Great Multi-tool

All the great survivalists wouldn’t be caught dead without their Leatherman or preferred multi-tool. Don’t be cheap here. A good multi-tool will last you a lifetime if you take care of it. They usually come equipped with knives, pliers, files, scissors, and more.

Bowl in Apocalypse

A Cup or Bowl

Scooping water with your hands is fine and dandy if you have clean hands and only need a sip of water. An easily accessible and durable cup or bowl will make drinking far easier. Bending over to drink out of a puddle like a dog would be uncomfortable and leave you vulnerable!

Hacksaw in Apocalypse

A Pipe Cutter or Hacksaw

Pipe cutters easily cut through pipes and cut smoother than a hacksaw. They can be used in tight spaces, which is often where pipes are located.

Pipe Wrench in Apocalypse

An Adjustable Pipe Wrench

There are fittings and pipes of many sizes and shapes. You never know what you’re going to need to turn or loosen to extract water, but keeping an adjustable wrench on hand may keep you well-equipped in many situations.

Flashlight in Apocalypse

A Flashlight

If the water is off, there’s a good chance that power is off too. Although being comfortable in the dark is necessary for an apocalypse, seeing what you’re doing will also be necessary for many situations. A head torch would be a wise addition as well because your hands are often going to be occupied with other gear and equipment.

Hammer in Apocalypse

A Clawhammer

Clawhammers have heavy blunt ends for striking and an end for removing nails, screws, as well as prying things apart. It’s a tool, it’s a weapon, and it’s something that every plumber would keep on hand in an apocalypse.

Screw Driver in Apocalypse

A Multi-bit Screwdriver

You never know when you’ll need a screwdriver, but you’ll be happy to have one when you need it.

Water Pump in Apocalypse

A Water Pump

A manual water pump, preferably one that can reach inside smaller holes, will help you extract water from awkward places.

Knee Pads in Apocalypse

Knee Pads

You never know where you’ll have to crawl or hide in an apocalypse. Some good knee pads might relieve you of a lot of pressure and pain!

Hole Saw in apocalypse

A Hole Saw

Keeping batteries charged in an apocalypse may be difficult, but a hole saw may allow you to cut into water storages and extract that sweet sweet life juice.

Solar Panels for Apocalypse

Solar Panels

Portable solar panel units have become affordable in modern times. Although cellphone networks may be down, your smartphone may have a variety of pre-downloaded apps that don’t require a connection which may come in handy (apps for measuring distance, calculations, backup flashlight, Morse code, encyclopedias of edible plants, pre-downloaded maps, clocks, and even games for distractions). If you get a solar panel that can provide enough juice, you may be able to keep battery-operated tools functional when you need them as well.

Smart Phone for Plumbing in the Apocalypse

A Smartphone with Many Useful Offline Apps

As previously mentioned in point 10, smartphones can provide you with a ton of useful tools and distractions. Keeping your mind occupied at boring times may be the biggest key to survival! There are even plumbing guides available in most app stores.

Gloves for the Apocalypse

Heavy-Duty Work Gloves

You never know if you’ll have to climb a barbed-wire fence or hold back a zombie trying to bite you. But those dangerous situations aside, you may need to break into a room or tear something apart. Protect your hands so your hands can protect you.

Plumbing Tape for the Apocalypse

Plumbers Tape

If you find yourself in a situation where you can settle down and build a life, you may find yourself building a makeshift plumbing system. Plumbers tape can go a long way.

Torch for the Apocalypse

A Plumber’s Torch

Fire is what separated man from beast. A torch can come in handy in countless ways.

Goggles for the Apocalypse


You always see heroes in apocalypse movies hacking away at infected monsters, it would be a shame to win a fight but get infected body fluids in your eyes!

Kettle for Plumbing in the Apocalypse

A Pot or Kettle

Water that hasn’t moved in a while will likely be home to a lot of bacteria. Having the tools to boil the water and destroy dangerous bacteria is absolutely crucial.

Clean Water Plumbing in the Apocalypse

Emergency Water Disinfectants

Boiling water is great, but in a pinch, you can use bleach to kill bacteria in water. Keep a flask of bleach with you, because just a couple drops can clean a litre of water. You can also purchase water purification tablets in advance, as well as devices like Lifestraws which purify water as you drink it. Some of these devices can even clean the filth out of water. These water filter devices are limited in how many gallons of water they can clean during the life of the product, so keep extras on hand if you plan on playing the long game.

Water Storage Plumbing in the Apocalypse

Barrels and Water Jugs

Although it won’t fit in a go-bag, it will help if you plan on bunkering up at home. Rain barrels and other means to collect rainwater isn’t a bad idea either!

Water Bottle for Plumbing in the Apocalypse

Water Bottle

Lastly and most importantly, keep a good water bottle on hand. A durable and high capacity water bottle is going to be the single most useful thing you keep in an apocalypse. Similar to a Lifestraw, Lifesaver Water Bottles are available that clean the water as you drink it. There’s no such thing as too safe!

First Steps to do Before The Water Runs Dry

If you think that the water supplied to your home is going to dry up, act fast.

First, fill any containers you’ve already purposely acquired for water storage. This may be barrels, drums, water bricks, or anything else that is big, clean, and free of contaminants.

Secondly, fill your bathtub and sinks with water. WaterBOB’s are bathtub-sized plastic containers that are safe to store water in for up to 16 weeks without worrying about bacteria. They can fill up to 100 gallons of water. They collapse and expand for easy storage, and they can be placed directly in your bathtub. If it’s too late to acquire something along these lines, cover the overflow with a tight seal then fill the bathtub and cover the water with a tarp or plastic cover and seal it with tape or anything else that will prevent the escape of water evaporation.

Thirdly, fill any sealable containers with water. Water bottles are great, empty mason jars are great, and even Tupperware is great. Ideally, you’ll have many airtight sealable containers on-hand, but if not…

Fourthly, fill your bowls, cups, and pots with water. If you have plastic wrap or tarps available that you don’t need immediately for anything else, cover the openings of your cups and bowls with it. Create a seal with tape if you have enough tape to go around.

Lastly, if it’s not too late then go and purchase some water purification tablets, chlorine or bleach, and some tarps.

You should be able to rig a tarp in such a way to catch water and funnel it into containers and you’ll be able to purify it when you need it.

And of course, lock your doors and barricade! If you’re the only person on the block with water, it’s a matter of time until thirsty and desperate neighbors come to find a drink!

Where to Find Water in Your Home During an Apocalypse

So you’ve prepared as best you could, but now your water reserves are nearing the end. You’re going to need to find a way to collect water soon. I’m going to assume that you don’t have a well, otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. Rainwater is likely going to be your best bet. Pray for rain, and collect as much of it as you can using tarps, gutters, buckets, and any other method available. But if the weatherman isn’t reporting and you don’t feel the rain coming in the air, there are a few places in your home you can extract water as a last resort.

Find Water in the Apocalypse

Hot Water Tank

Hot water tanks often store up to 60 gallons of water. This water has likely already been treated by your cities water treatment facilities, and your hot water tank has probably kept it sealed. There’s a good chance that this water is safe to drink immediately, but you can boil it to be safe. Look around the tank for a drain valve near the bottom.

Find Water in the Apocalypse

Toilet Tanks

Your toilet tank probably has more than a gallon of water available for use. This water has not been protected by an air seal, so boiling it is probably a good idea.

Find Water in the Apocalypse

Fish Tank

Your fish might be the only companions that you have left, but you may want to cut your losses. You can filter this water and boil it to keep you going. Mourn the loss of your fish-friends with a healthy fish dinner.

Find Water in the Apocalypse


Every time you opened your freezer, you let air inside that had moisture in it. Over time, this moisture freezes around the edges of the freezer. Hopefully, by now you’ve eaten all the frozen goods. With any luck, there is a pool of water at the bottom. I’d boil this water to be safe.

Find Water in the Apocalypse

Liquid From Cans

Some canned goods are preserved in water. Don’t waste it! This water will quench your thirst and maybe offer some additional nutrients from the goods it was preserving.

Find Water in the Apocalypse

Pipes in the Basement

Find the water supply lines in the basement, place a container underneath, and cut! Depending on your plumbing, it may not be much but you should be able to wet your whistle.

Find Water in the Apocalypse

Nearby Pools

If you have a long hose, you may be able to run the hose from your pool or nearby neighbours and into your home. A manual water pump will provide the suction needed to pull water into your home. Use this water to refill your containers, before someone else thinks of the same thing. You’re going to want to treat this water.

Find Water in the Apocalypse

Sump Pit

If you have a sump pit for your sump pump, you may have access to water more often than you think.

Find Water in the Apocalypse

A Sledgehammer

Lastly, take a sledgehammer into your basement and break the floor. If you dig deep enough, you’re going to find water eventually. You’ll want to filter and clean this water, but a homemade well in your home may keep your thirst quenched as long as you stay settled.

How to Treat Water in an Apocalypse

There are many ways to treat water depending on what resources and tools you have available. The first thing you’re going to want to do is filter the water of any solids. You can create a makeshift water filter by stacking coffee filters, fine cloth, cheesecloth, cotton, broken charcoal, fine sand, coarse sand, gravel in some sort of funnel. Use as many of these as you have available, and stack them in the order previously mentioned from output to input. Cover the top of the funnel with a strainer like a cloth or a bandana, and pour water in. Collect the water as it pours out the bottom with a clean container. Now you should have water fairly clear of any solids.

Next, we’re going to treat the water. Here are some common strategies that work!

  • Boiling water. Boiling the water for at least a minute. The longer you boil it, the more will escape. If you can capture some of the steam, you may keep yourself going even longer.
  • Iodine. Iodine comes in many forms, and it has the ability to kill bacteria and viruses. It may not taste great, but it will be safe. Pour the iodine in the container and shake it. If you’re going to use iodine, don’t let a pregnant woman drink the water!
  • Bleach or chlorine. It’s the same thing. Bleach is cheap, effective, and easy to find currently. It doesn’t take much to make water safe to drink, but too much of a good thing is bad! If you’re using 6% bleach, 8 drops per gallon will work. Stir it in and let the chlorine do its thing for 30 minutes. It will smell slightly of chlorine, if it doesn’t, repeat this process.
  • Ultraviolet light. If you have the means to acquire solar panels and an ultraviolet light water treatment device, then you’ll be setting yourself up for a lot of success! Small devices, like the Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifier, are available that can be placed inside your water container. After swishing the water around for several minutes, your water should be safe to drink. Some portable devices are battery powered and can treat water 50 times per charge.
  • Disinfecting tablets. Disinfecting tablets, like Portable Aqua tablets, come in many shapes and sizes from many brands and use a variety of chemicals. These tablets range in how fast and effective they clean the water, but they should work great if you follow the instructions.
  • Water cleaning devices. Lifestraws and Lifesaver bottles are designed to make water safe to drink. Follow the instructions and quench your thirst!

Be Conservative with Water!

Listen, I hate smelling bad as much as the next person who isn’t nasty. But showers are a luxury that we take for granted. When your supply of water isn’t quickly replenishable, you’re going to have to make some adjustments.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have determined that an average man requires 3.7 liters of water a day, and a woman requires 2.7. Drinking water is priority number 1. Cleaning yourself or your home may have to be put on hold until you figure out how to collect more than enough water for drinking.

If your apocalypse buddies are becoming intolerably stinky, use less water for cleaning by sponge-bathing. It’s not as effective or as enjoyable as a nice shower, but it’ll get the job done.