Tips On Water Damage Repair Plumbing Repairs
No homeowner wants their home to turn into a money pit. Whether your home is a new build or a historic property, expensive repairs can be crushing for many families. As we’ll explore in this article, the trick to avoiding the most expensive plumbing repairs—those associated with leaks, sewer lines, and water damage—is being proactive and knowing when to call in a professional. In many cases, quick action can save you from having to spend thousands of dollars on water damage repair and mold remediation.
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Avoid extensive water damage by quickly finding leaks
As any homeowner who has dealt with it before can attest to, water damage is bad news for your home. Extensive water damage and moisture can ruin your floors, foster the growth of mold and mildew, and even weaken the home’s structure. When not caused by natural disasters (such as floods) or by sewer backups (discussed later in this article), most water damage is caused by leaking pipes.
What causes pipes to leak?
There are a wide variety of potential reasons a pipe might start leaking. Here are some of the most common culprits:
- Age: If you own a historic home with copper or steel plumbing, those pipes are eventually going to succumb to corrosion as they age.
- Shifting Earth: As your home settles onto the ground and the ground, in turn, shifts and moves under your home’s foundation, the stress of this movement could damage pipes.
- Water Pressure: Homeowners love high water pressure when they turn on the shower. They love it less when it causes cracks in their pipes.
- Frozen Pipes: As the water in a pipe freezes on a cold winter night, the ice expands, putting pressure on the inside of the pipe and potentially busting it open.
Finding hidden leaks
In a situation where your home has a leaking pipe somewhere, time is of the essence. The quicker you get the pipe patched, fixed, or replaced, the less extensive (and costly) the overall water damage will be. Unfortunately, not every leak is convenient enough to happen right underneath the kitchen sink. In many cases, the section of pipe in question is inside of a wall, under a floor, or in a ceiling. These leaks can be tricky to find: thanks to gravity, the place where water damage is occurring—such as a wet spot on a ceiling—may not be exactly where the leak is.
Before you start hacking away at your home’s drywall on a hunch, call in a plumbing professional. Many plumbing companies have specialized, industry-specific tools that allow them to pinpoint the location of a leak. One such advanced piece of equipment is a device that listens (far better than a human ear!) for the telltale sound of water exiting a pipe.
Protect your sewer line
Your sewer line plays an essential role in your home, carrying wastewater away from your kitchen and bathrooms to the municipal sewer. Many homeowners don’t give their sewer line much thought, and most probably couldn’t point out exactly where it runs under their yard. However, sewer line issues are some of the most expensive to address, so it makes sense for homeowners to be proactive in protecting the line.
Get to the root of the problem
Tree and plant roots are an ever-present threat to a sewer line. This issue often starts with a small leak in the line somewhere along its path from your home to the sewer. Tree roots—ever-perceptive in their search for water—are attracted to the leak, and burrow their way toward it, day after day. Eventually, the root reaches the line. Lines are often broken when the tree root either grows around the line, crushing it, or grows into the line, blocking it.
Either event is bad news for your home and your sewer line, as you’ll need to likely remove the tree, dig up the line, and replace the broken segment. This is an expensive project.
The best way to prevent this is to proactively move trees on your property away from the sewer line. Bushes and shrubs can also pose a threat, so locate your line and form a ten-foot “no man’s land” on either side of it. When in doubt, talk to a local plumber in your area. Context matters: there are some species of trees that are considered a reduced risk because of their slow-growing roots, while others with fast-growing root systems could break the line in a matter of years.
Watch what you put down the drain
Most sewer line issues, including the dreaded sewer line backup, occur when a blockage forms inside of the line. This can be due to the aforementioned tree root issue, but a more likely suspect is a grease blockage. This type of blockage isn’t exclusively formed from cooking grease, but can actually form due to the collective accumulation of food waste such as:
- Oils & Fats
- Coffee Grounds
As some of this waste gets stuck inside of the line, other waste collects on it. Eventually, a partial blockage forms. Then, with enough time and buildup, the entire line is clogged. This prevents wastewater from exiting the home. Unfortunately, what goes up must go back up again if it cannot go down. This disastrous event is known as a sewer backup, and it’s simultaneously disgusting, dangerous, and very pricey to repair.
The good news is that you can avoid this problem by:
- Avoiding putting the food waste products listed above down the drain. Also, for obvious reasons, avoid putting non-organic waste down the toilet. Be especially careful about “flushable” wipes. Despite their name, they’re often anything but flushable.
- Scheduling a sewer camera inspection if you suspect a partial clog is forming. Most reputable plumbers have an advanced snake tool with a tiny camera attached to one end. During this service, they feed the snake down the drain and into the sewer line to visually inspect for blockage or damage to the pipe.
When in doubt, talk to a professional
Given the relatively high stakes associated with water damage to your home, it always makes sense to consult with a locally trusted plumber in your area if you are seeing signs of impending trouble. In a majority of cases, fast, proactive action on your part is all it takes to avoid an expensive and complicated plumbing catastrophe.
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