Of the many obvious dangers to your pipes, most of them come from inside the pipes. If you flush hard objects, fat, paper towels, or anything else that can clog a pipe, you could have a problem. A major danger comes from outside of the pipes, though; that danger is tree roots.
Tree Root Dangers
Tree roots are very slow-moving but they are very persistent. Pipes and septic tanks that are underground are in danger of a tree’s roots. The roots will grow over the course of years. They’ll slowly wrap around the pipes or septic tank. As the tree grows, the roots will throw thicker and thicker, creating a tighter and tighter squeeze on the pipes. Eventually, they’ll grow thick enough that they damage the pipes. In some cases, they’ll compress the metal of the pipe until water no longer flows freely. In other cases, they’ll actually just break the pipes. Oftentimes, you won’t even notice that you have a problem until sewage starts flooding your backyard.
Recognizing The Dangers
A general rule of thumb is that roots will grow as wide as the branches of the tree. So, if the branches of a tree hang over a septic tank or pipes, the roots might be burrowing into them underground.
So, what can you do about it? First, you should call a plumber to inspect your pipes. It could be that the pipes are deep enough that they’ll be unaffected by tree roots. It’s also possible that the tree is a type that doesn’t have a wide root spread.
Depending on the nature of the problem, the professionals will respond in different ways. If the roots are worming their way into the pipes themselves, a problem common to clay pipes, then they’ll likely bore out the pipes to clear the roots. If the pipes are crushed or cracked by the roots, they’ll likely cut the roots and replace the pipes. They might also coat the pipes in something that kills roots. It won’t kill the entire tree, but the roots will die when they come into contact with the pipes.
The pipes can also be coated in cement to prevent the roots from breaking through. This has been popular for years with commercial lines and has just begun to be used for residential lines.
These are a few of the options you have to remedy pipes endangered by tree roots. The first step is calling a professional.
Home water purification systems have been growing in popularity for homes as well as businesses. There are dozens of different kind s systems. There are systems that are just filters attached to your faucets to run your water through some activated charcoal. These filter out whatever solids might remained in your treated water. There are systems that use electrolysis, activated charcoal, and UV light to filter solids, remove chemicals, and kill microbes. A plumber can walk you through the different types of systems. However, the basic question remains concerning who needs which systems.
Municipal Water Supply
If you are on a trustworthy municipal water supply, you likely don’t need a complex water purification system. The water coming into your home should be free of toxins, microbes, and dangerous solids. There are some cases in which the pipes leading into your home might be old enough to have lead and might be leaching lead into your water. In that case, you’ll need fixtures that filter out lead. In some cases, the water coming into your home might be safe but just taste funny. If you want something a little more permanent than the filters that attach to faucets, you could have a system installed by a plumber.
In those cases, the plumber will install a system that is basically a charcoal filter but on a larger scale. All of the water coming into your house will run through the system. It will remove solids that might make water taste or smell funny.
If you live in a rural area, you might get your water from a local well. In that case, you’ll need to have a full water filtration system. That system will basically have three functions. When water is piped from your well, it will need to have solids removed. It will need to have chemicals removed. Lastly, it will need to have microbes killed. To remove solids, the water will likely be run through a multi-step filter. The filter might begin with clean sand, then work down to activated charcoal. That will remove most solids. Then, it might undergo electrolysis which passes the water through charged particles. The charged particles will be designed to react to chemicals suspended in the water but not to water itself.
Finally, the water will be treated with UV light. The UV light will kill any virus or bacteria in the water. That will leave you with pure, filtered water.
A plumber will be able to install that type of system for you.
Plumbing emergencies are some of the most unfortunate events that can occur for a homeowners. A plumbing emergency can be disgusting, disruptive, and expensive. It can even force you out of your home for a few days while a professional addresses the root problem. Fortunately, plumbing emergencies are often signalled before they become full-blown emergencies. There are signs that you are nearing an emergency.
1 — Odd Bubbling
Your plumbing exits your house via several different pipes. The pipes then converge into a main sewer drain. When there are blockages, leaks, or air bubbles in those converging pipes, it can cause some odd consequences. For example, you might run your bathroom sink and see water bubbling in your toilet bowl. That would be a case of odd bubbling that indicates something has gone wrong. It likely indicates that something has gone amiss in your main sewer drain. You should call a professional immediately. The alternative could be sewage running into your backyard.
2 – Weak Water Pressure
If you have weak water pressure in one fixture in your house, it could indicate a leaky pipe or a blocked pipe. It could also mean the fixture itself needs some work. If that’s the case, you need to have it addressed but it’s not an emergency. However, if you have several fixtures with weak water pressure, it could indicate a problem from the water main or something else systemic. In that case, you’ll need to call a plumber before the problem escalates into something drastic.
3 — Multiple Clogged Drains
As stated earlier, your pipes drain in individual pipes and then converge onto the same sewer main. If you have several drains clogged, it means that something has gone wrong at or near the sewer main. That could mean that you will have sewage backing up into your house or your yard soon.
4 — Noisy Pipes
Some old houses have pipes that clang and clank when you run the water. That could indicate that some clamps have rusted or corroded and need to be reaffixed. It could also indicate that your pipes are hitting one another and could eventually work loose. If a pipe fractures, it could lead to flooding that grows tragic very quickly.
5 — Wet Spots
From time to time, you should look under your sinks and around your fixtures where you might not normally look. You should look for signs of wetness. Those could be indications of persistent leaks that have been building for some time.
In most cases, your home will have gutters that run along the roof to catch rainwater that hits the roof. It will usher that water away from the house via a drain pipe. This is important to prevent water from pooling up around the foundation of your house. That could cause your foundation to begin to erode; it could also lead to flooding of your first floor. Typically, you’ll go to a roofing expert for your guttering needs, but some plumbers will do that work as well. Plumbers might do the work, especially if it relates to your plumbing needs. Here is how your gutters and your plumbing could relate.
Ponds and Rainwater Collection
Many homeowners have been emphasizing using as much rainwater as possible in their day to day lives. Rainwater costs you nothing and also reduces the amount of resources used to treat water. Water that you use for filling your pond or watering your garden doesn’t need to be treated and transported by municipal sources. So, many people have rainwater collected in cisterns and actually piped into their house for different purposes. It can’t be used for drinking but it can be used for flushing toilets and washing clothes.
If you have a plumber doing work on your pipes, they might need to work on your rainwater collection as well. A common way to collect rainwater is for the gutters to run into a rainwater collection tank or into a pond. The gutters lead to a downspout. The downspout can run into a channel drain that culminates in the pond.
Basement Sump Pumps
A sump pump is a pump in your basement that sits inside of a small cistern. Water that flows into the basement for any reason will run into that cistern and then be pumped out of your house. There are several reasons this can experience problems. Many plumbers, especially those in rural areas, are trained to repair sump pumps. During the repair process, they might clean or repair your gutters as well since functioning gutters should reduce the amount of water flowing into the basement. That will reduce the workload of your sump pump.
Some rural homes are serviced by a well instead of a municipal water supply. Effectively diverting rainwater is essential to the functioning of a well. Typically, rainwater is redirected away from a well so that it does not contaminate the groundwater coming into your home. In some areas, the rainwater is actually directed into the well to create a sort of hybrid collection system.
Every industry has been affected by the move towards more green and more sustainable practices; plumbing is no different. Many homeowners are looking for ways to make their plumbing more efficient and eco-friendly. The greening of plumbing has the added benefit of saving you money. You’re charged for every gallon of municipal water that flows through your pipes. So, reducing the amount of municipal water through your pipes will reduce your plumbing bill each money. High-efficiency toilets and showers is one way to reduce water consumption. Using rainwater is a way to reduce the municipal water you use.
Using Rainwater With Your Plumbing
You’ll need to talk to a professional about using rainwater. Rainwater is not potable in its natural state, so it can’t be used in all of your plumbing. You’ll need essentially a separate plumbing system to keep the rainwater sequestered from your drinking water. However, it’s perfectly fine for every application that you won’t drink purposely or accidentally; basically, it can be used for anything that won’t touch your face or your food.
The first step to using rainwater with your indoor plumbing is to collect the rainwater. A dedicated rain barrel is a good choice since they’re designed to catch as much water as possible while also keeping out bugs and other pests. The rainwater cistern can be connected directly to your pipes as well. The pipes will then run to your toilets, your washing machine, and your garden hoses. You’ll likely need to have a pump installed to drive the water to those applications.
You’ll also need a filter. Water used for washing your clothes does not need to be drinking water quality but it does need to be clean. A professional plumber can install all of these things for you to get you up and running.
How Much Money?
Many homeowners want to know how much money they’ll save. That depends obviously on your personal use but a washing machine alone uses about 50 liters of water every time you use it. That’s about 13 gallons. Depending on how large your washing loads are, you could save a few dollars every time you run your washing machine.
You can also water your plants or fill a fish pond with your collected rainwater. A pond that is about ten feet by ten feet can hold as much as 3,000 gallons of water. Using rainwater for that can save you hundreds of dollars each year.
Imagine trying to fix a problem you haven’t seen with your own eyes? You know it’s there, but you just don’t know how bad it is or what it may take to fix it. That’s the problem many plumbers have when trying to diagnose serious clogs. A difficult situation becomes even more difficult because they don’t have the proper equipment to KNOW what the problem is before trying to fix it! That’s where camera inspections make a big difference!
Interestingly enough, sewage has a fairly distinct smell. Even though it is made of dozens of different components and each household produces different components to make that sewage, it always smells somewhat similar. That means that you can instantly tell sewage when you smell it. A couple of places you might not expect to smell it is in your bathroom or kitchen sink. However, many homeowners know that particular smell. Plumbers say there are several different reasons why this might be the case.
If you’re like many Boise homeowners, a septic tank system often suffers from being out of sight and out of mind. You want your septic system to stay that way though! Many people don’t know they have a problem with their septic system until sewage starts backing up into the yard. To prevent that, you need to keep the septic tank drained. How often should you do that?
A cold winter is the mortal enemy of your plumbing. Water is one of the few substances that actually expands as it freezes. That means that water in your pipes will expand when it freezes and seek out the path of least resistance. Far too often, that means that the ice will actually burst through the pipes. When the water thaws, you have a gushing burst pipe. If you’re fortunate, the water will expand through the faucet, and you’ll just have damaged faucet components.
The quick solution is to allow the water to drip all night; moving water, even if it’s moving slowly, will not freeze as readily. However, dripping your pipes for an entire winter is simply not practical. That’s why homeowners with exposed pipes need to winterize their pipes. However, many homeowners forget their outdoor pipes. Outdoor pipes can be garden faucets, outdoor showers, sprinklers, pools, and ponds.
Winterizing Garden Faucets
Oftentimes, the faucet fixture for your garden hose is mostly contained inside the house or the crawlspace. The simplest solution here is to shut off the water to that pipe. Turn on the fixture to allow the last bits of water to drain out. Turn the water back on when the temperature is consistently above freezing.
If you have other outdoor fixtures such as outdoor showers or built-in sprinkler systems, there can be water trapped in the pipes. Showers and sinks often have drain systems that hold onto water to trap gases; the same is true of some septic systems. In those systems, you can pour a little bit of antifreeze in the drain. The antifreeze lowers the freezing point of the water to far below what most people experience during the winter.
Outdoor Pools and Ponds
Since water expands when it freezes, it can actually crack your pool or pond in the same way that it cracks your pipes. The first step is to lower the water level of the pool or pond; lowering the water level gives the water room to expand. Cover the pool and detach the pump as well. If water is trapped in the pump, it can freeze and damage your pump.
Typically, a pool or pond pipe is buried about four feet in the ground. Unless you live somewhere that the ground will freeze that deep, the pipes will probably be insulated by the ground itself.
Sprinklers and Irrigation Systems
The first step is to shut off the water to the irrigation system. Next, remove the timer from your sprinkler or irrigation system. The timer can be susceptible to power surges during the winter. Then blow the water out of the lines with an air compressor. Finally, remove the valves and backflow preventer. Any bit of water kept in these delicate parts can cause damage.
There are several different ways to heat your home, and a plumber can walk you through several of them. Plumbers are often responsible for some electrical and gas work, which oftentimes includes heaters. Also, they’re obviously responsible for anything involving water. That means that they’ll handle your hot water heater. There’s a type of heating that has grown in popularity that you need to ask your plumber about; that’s hydronic heating.