Purchasing a Home? Check the Plumbing!

New Home Key Showing Moving Into House

It is always advisable to hire a licensed home inspector to check out every aspect of a home you wish to purchase.  Increasingly, consumers are additionally protecting themselves by requesting home warranties, which will cover expenses not billable under homeowner’s insurance for a certain amount of time after purchase.  These are excellent steps to take, as plumbing problems can be completely out of sight one minute and disastrous the next.  It is estimated that 44 percent of consumers have to call a plumber within the first year of home ownership.  In the hopes that this will not happen to you, there are some things you can check for signs of plumbing difficulties ahead during the inspection phase.

  • Check the yard of the home for any areas that appear excessively wet or which have odd plant growth. This can be a sign of standing water coming from a leaking pipe.
  • You may wish to hire a licensed plumber to perform a video inspection of the underground sewer pipes to check for any current or potential future problems.
  • In the kitchen, make sure the garbage disposal and dishwasher connections are tight. Check the flow of water in the faucet, as well as the areas under the sink for any signs of water damage.
  • Inspect the water heater for rust. Additionally, check the age of the tank, as any heater over 15 years old will need to be replaced.
  • Locate the main line cleanout and be sure it is easily accessible.
  • Check any exposed piping in the basement for signs of leaks or repairs.
  • In the bathroom, check the flow of water in the bathtub and sink. Flush the toilet, then look around it for any signs of water damage. Place your feet on either side of the toilet; if the ground there feels soft, the floorboards are weakened or rotting due to a water leak.

Summer Plumbing Problems

Image courtesy of pupunkkop at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of pupunkkop at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With the news media reminding us each of every year, it is fairly well known that significant problems, such as frozen and bursting pipes, can be brought on by winter weather.  However, what you may not know is that there are several plumbing problems that happen more commonly in the summer months than any other time of year.

The first plumbing issue that arises more often in the summer is a clogged garbage disposal.  First, the disposal tends to get a tougher workout in the summer months, when you are more likely to be entertaining at home.  Second, summer fruit and vegetable remains such as watermelon rinds and corn husks can wreak havoc on the blades of the disposal.  Finally, you may be making the mistake of dumping dirty grease down the sink after grilling out, which will coat the blades and cause buildup on them.  Be sure to run cold water before and after using the disposal to help clear out the food.  Grinding some ice cubes can help to remove any buildup on the blades.

Another thing you may find breaks down more frequently in the summer is your washing machine.  Between the kids being home from school, trips to the beach and the pool, and summer vacations, you may find yourself doing twice as much laundry as usual.  It’s advisable to only run the washing machine when you are home, so you can stop the cycle immediately if you notice any problems.

Finally, a third plumbing issue that often arises in the summer is sewer line backups.  If you live in an area with excessive rainfall, it can cause damage to the pipes in two ways.  First, any shifting soil around the pipes can cause them to crack.  Next, once the cracks occur, excess rainwater can seep in through them, thereby causing the sewer line to back up.  If you discover water backing up into any drain in your home, you should call a licensed plumber immediately.

Signs You Might Need a New Sewer Line

sewer cover PixabyWhen thinking about household plumbing, your sewer line is likely not on the top of your list, and that is because it is largely invisible to you.  Your sewer line, which is buried completely underground, is the part of your plumbing system that carries the waste water out of your home.

Because of the location and function of your sewer line, there are a number of ways that it can malfunction.  For example, tree roots in your yard can break through the pipes, and shifting soil can cause a sewer line to completely collapse.  Both of the aforementioned reasons can also cause leaking and cracking in the pipes, if not total destruction.  Finally, with all of the drains in your home feeding into one main sewer line, it is subject to becoming severely clogged.  If a complete clog occurs, the resulting building water pressure will cause the pipe to burst.

You may wonder how you can possibly know if your sewer line is having issues since you can’t see it with your own eyes.  However, there are three distinct above-ground indicators that you might need to replace your sewer line.  The first, and most obvious, is an odor of sewage coming from your drains or your yard.  The second is patches in your yard that are unexplainably raised and soggy, which could represent the location of a leak in the sewer line.  The third would be if you notice your sinks, bathtubs, and showers are all draining more slowly than usual, as that could indicate a clog in the sewer line.

If you suspect your sewer line may need to be replaced, you should call a licensed plumber right away to request a camera inspection of your pipes.  They will run a waterproof camera through your pipes to accurately pinpoint any issues in your underground lines and let you know what needs to be corrected.

Sewer Line Damage

photo courtesy of scotthomeinspection.com
photo courtesy of scotthomeinspection.com

A sewer line is the main pipe that carries sewage out of your house for transport to treatment or disposal.  If this line becomes clogged or damaged, it can result in raw sewage backing up out of the drains and into your home.  This is not only unsanitary, but can lead to significant damage to your property.

There are a variety of situations which can cause your sewer pipes to develop cracks.  While many are outside of your control, you should nonetheless be aware of them.  These include frequent ground freezes and thaws, tree root intrusion, your house and the ground around it settling over time, a backup from a city controlled sewer line, or the unavoidable aging of your house’s pipes.  One cause of sewer line cracks that is within your control is digging in the wrong place.  (To avoid this, call Georgia 811 before doing any digging in your yard.)  Another is lack of maintenance to the pipes on your part.  That includes letting food, grease, hair, and other items go down your drains and into your pipes. This causes buildup in the pipes that makes it more difficult for water to pass through, and the increased pressure will eventually lead to cracks. [Read more…]

How should I handle a plumbing emergency?

How to handle a plumbing emergency


Emergency PlumbingWhen you experience a plumbing emergency, and water is spewing and spilling all over the place, it is hard to know ahead of time exactly how you should react. This uncertainty shows ten fold when you have never experienced this type of emergency before and you have never read or been taught what you should do when something like this happens. When this happens in the workplace, be certain to inform your supervisor and get ahold of maintenance as soon as possible. Depending on where you work, this type of repair may fall directly on your shoulders.

During a plumbing emergency, the first thing that you should do is cut off the water supply to whatever type of appliance or pipe that is not working properly and allowing the water to escape. This can be a major inconvenience if all of your water supply has only one main shutoff, which is why I always suggest that all buildings that have running water should have some type of water distribution block that allows water to be cut off from individual lines without having to interrupt the water service for the rest of the building.

Once the leak has been stopped since the water has been shut off, it is now time to diagnose the problem and correct it. If the problem is a broken pipe, then that section of pipe must be removed. You must then install unbroken pipe and adhere the two pipes together. This is typically PVC pipe and you will have double female connectors on both ends of the newly cut pipe. This will all be sealed with PVC pipe cement, which will take time to dry and no water can be ran through that line until you are certain that this has occurred.

If the problem is with an appliance, you must begin by looking at the area where the water was leaking. If the item is completely broken, it needs to be replaced. Oftentimes you can fix the leak by simply turning down the pressure to the appliance, or by replacing an O-ring or gasket that has failed over time.

Call Pell Plumbing today at (770) 499-2006 if you’re having a plumbing emergency in Marietta. We have immediate solutions for your situation!