The Dangers in Delaying Plumbing Repairs
They say that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. When something begins to go wrong with any mechanical object, machine or system, it is always better to fix the problem right away: if you leave it unattended, it will only get worse, eventually causing you real problems and great expense. This applies to everything from your car to your your washing machine. And it certainly applies to your plumbing. You can’t delay plumbing repairs – it will only end up costing you more money in the long run.
Let’s take a look at some common plumbing issues that can develop into major problems if not taken care of as soon as they begin.
A water heater has a limited life. A better one will last longer, but they all eventually wear out. If you hear a noise coming from your water, or if it starts leaking from the top, have it attended to immediately by a professional plumber. Ideally, you should flush out your water heater every year to prevent rusting and other problems. This will prevent your water from becoming discolored. If your water heater is leaking from the bottom, it will have to be replaced.
If you do not attend to a water heater as soon as a problem develops, at best you will then need to replace it, or it could explode and cause injury to people or water damage to your property.
A worn out washer is the principal cause of a leaky faucet. Washers are cheap to buy and easy to replace. If you don’t replace the washer, it will end up costing you money in increased water bills, and if you don’t replace it, it will eventually wear out completely and cause you increased expense. You can replace a washer yourself, or call a plumber to do it for you.
A leaky shower head is another place that will cost you money in increased water bills and will eventually cause you serious and expensive problems. Here’s a handy tip from one of our master plumbers: to keep your shower head free of blockages, take a plastic baggie, fill it with vinegar, and tie it around your shower head. Leave it overnight. This will unclog all the holes in your shower head and allow a better flow of water when you shower.
Drain stoppages are caused primarily by materials that should not have gone down the drain in the first place. In bathroom drains, this means hair and soap. In kitchen drains it means food scraps, peels of fruits and vegetables, and grease. In floor drains, it can mean leaves or paper or any other debris that was left on the floor when it was washed. The best way to prevent all drain blockages is to have a strainer of some sort over the mouth of the drain. These strainers should usually be screwed down, and they should be cleaned frequently or the strainer itself will become blocked up, preventing the flow of water into the drain.
The most common causes of toilet stoppages are excess paper like paper towels, and also those wipes – which are not flushable – and feminine hygiene products.
Sometimes, throwing down a chemical solution like Drano, bleach or even Coca Cola can eat through the clog and wash it away. A plunger often works too, but make sure you have the right type – there are some plungers on the market that are totally useless on any serious clog. If the cause of the toilet stoppage is something like a child’s toy, a toothbrush, or similar physical object that has been put into the toilet, neither chemical solutions nor a plunger will do the trick.
In these cases you will have to use an auguring or cabling device, often called a “plumber’s snake”. You can buy a hand-powered cabling device at your favorite hardware store. Professional plumbers have electric-powered cabling devices which are far more effective. It’s your choice. But when a toilet gets stopped up, you have to have it attended to or you will soon have a serious problem on your hands.
When all your sinks and toilets start backing up at the same time, it almost always means you have a stoppage in your main sewer line. This is a serious problem, will not fix itself, and if not attended to, it will cause dirty water to spill onto your floor, causing water damage and potential health problems for you and your family. Sewer line stoppages can be caused by buildup of excess paper – especially paper towels and other non-flushables which people have flushed down the toilet, or the sewer stoppage may be caused by invasive tree roots, which have managed to get into the sewer line through cracks, breaks or holes in your sewer.
Sewer line stoppages may sometimes be cleared by a powerful cabling device, but these devices sometimes only succeed in boring a small hole through the obstruction rather than clearing it completely. And if the stoppage is more than 100 feet into the line, most cabling devices will not be able to handle the problem.
The best way to completely clear a main line sewer stoppage is to call in a plumber who has a hydro-jet machine. These devices generate a powerful jet of water which literally blasts away any obstruction in the line. It also scours the insides of your pipes and cleans them.
Before hydro-jetting a line, most plumbers will first insert a video camera and take a look at the exact nature of the obstruction and also exactly where it is located. After he has cleared the line, the plumber will then again insert the camera to make sure the stoppage has been completely removed. Sometimes, more than one pass with the hydrojet is required to completely remove the most stubborn stoppages. And the video camera will also show you the condition of your pipes. If you notice damage or deterioration, the damaged part must be replaced or it’s going to cost you a fortune down the line when you have to replace your entire sewer line.
Hydro-jetting a line may cost you about $750.00: replacing your entire sewer line can cost you up to $50,000.
So as soon as you notice even the smallest problem with your plumbing, get the right tools and fix it yourself, or call a professional plumber and resolve the issue before it becomes a major health hazard, or causes injury or property damage, and becomes a major expense. To end with another old proverb: ”A stitch in time saves nine”.
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