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Averting Disaster: Simple Ways to Avoid Plumbing Nightmares

Plumbing problems

There are few things more frightening than the thought of having your plumbing fail during the night and waking to discover that an entire floor of your home has become a morass of raw sewage. The trouble is, most people just don't know to prevent such a nightmare from becoming a reality. Some simple rules can help avert disaster before your home becomes a scene of horror only Wes Craven could dream up.

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Be materialistic

The material from which pipes and fixtures are made has a certain life expectancy, although this can be influenced by a number of factors. Proper maintenance can increase the lifespan of your existing plumbing considerably. Hard water (high mineral content) however, can wreak havoc on your home. If you are unsure of the type of plumbing used in your home, your best bet is to bring in a certified plumber to do an inspection. PVC drain lines have a comparatively short life expectancy at 25-40 years. Copper supply pipes may last 70-80 years, depending on past maintenance. Brass and cast iron pipes and fixtures may serve their intended purpose for a century or longer.

Look out for leaching

Pipes constructed of lead or polybutylene need to go no matter what their age. Lead pipes can leach harmful lead into your drinking water, causing severe and long-lasting health problems. Polybutylene pipes were a cheap alternative often installed between the 1970s and 1990s, but have caused homeowners a myriad of problems related to unexpected breakage.

Beware of the brown stuff

Does the water in your tub or sink basin appear unattractively brown or yellow in color? If it does, rust may be eating away at your pipes. This will most evident when you have been away from home for a period of time because water sitting dormant in pipes will have time to collect a greater number of rust particulates. If you see signs of rust, consider replacing effected pipes ASAP.

Kill two birds with one stone

If you are conducting a remodel, be sure to have a plumber check to see if your system in that area of the home needs to be replaced. Because you may already be tearing away at things, or even expect to have a plumber on site for a time, costs can be considerably less.

Flex your PEX

If an $8000 to $10,000 bill for new copper piping falls outside your home improvement budget, consider using cross-linked polyethylene tubing (a.k.a PEX). PEX can eliminate the need to rip into walls it is flexible enough to snake into position where it is needed. Substituting PEX for copper in a 1,500 sq ft home can save you as much as a whopping $4000 in parts and labor!

The downside: The real life expectancy for PEX is not yet fully known.

Avoid a corrosion explosion

Always be on the lookout for leaks and signs of corrosion such as discoloration and dimpling, which might indicate that your plumbing system is on its last legs. Flaking and stains are also strong indicators that fixture failure may be imminent. Leaks in one area are often predictors that you will soon have then in other places as well. Your best bet is to have them inspected, repaired, and if need be, replaced, before you have to in figure the cost of new walls and flooring.

Get Cozy with a fantastic plumber

(We're talking so cozy you could date them). Find the wrong one and you could be in for big problems down the road. A plumber who is in and out and handing you the bill before you have the chance to blink may be doing a shod job. Your best bet is someone who guarantees both materials and workmanship against future mishaps. Be sure to secure the services of a preferred plumber who offers a 100% guarantee.

Keep a watchful eye on water bills

Watch your water bills closely to see if you detect any unexpected increases. An unexpected uptick in water usage (when your actual usage patterns haven't really increased) can be an indication of a leak (or leaks) somewhere in your plumbing system. Another way to detect possible leaks is to see if water is pooling below fixtures. In addition to leaks, thinks clogged drains and pipes can lead to unexpected bill changes, so if you have a curious toddler who hasn't seen their favorite stuffed cat Chu Chu in a while, it may be time to seek professional help.

Protect your pipes

Even the greediest garbage disposals can be overwhelmed and contribute to clogs if too much of something is thrown in all at once. If you have a large quantity of gunky foodstuffs to dispose of, be sure to do it in your household trash. Better yet, start a compost pile if you don't have one already. Plumbers receive thousands of calls each year to venture out and solve problems caused by once-tasty leftovers clogging up the works.

Posted by: Ahmed Muztaba
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