However, at some point, most homeowners will face a serious plumbing issue in their home. In this article, we’ll review three of the most expensive types of plumbing repairs and how an alert homeowner can avoid them or limit their damage through preventative maintenance.
Water leaks and damage
A significant water leak can not only lead to damage to your home, but also can result in expensive cleanup costs. There are three common causes of residential water leaks:
- ⬥ Aging pipes and plumbing
- ⬥ Roof leaks
- ⬥ Water heater tank failure
No matter what the root cause of the leak is, water damage is bad news for your home. Not only can it weaken your home’s physical structure and undermine its foundation, but it can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
Avoiding water leak damage
If you own an older home, be on the lookout for leaking pipes. You may want to consult with an expert about the state of your home’s plumbing and whether or not a re-piping project makes sense in the near-future. To prevent roof leaks, keep your roof in good condition by having a professional roofer fix or replace your tiles or shingles. If there are roof problems, fixing them sooner rather than later can prevent an expensive catastrophe down the road.
Sewer line issues
About 80% of American homes are connected to a municipal sewer via their home’s sewer line. This pipe carries wastewater away from your toilets, showers, sinks, and every other drain of your home. Problems here can lead to dire (and costly) consequences for your home. There are two common types of sewer line issues: cracks and blockages.
Sewer line cracks
Depending on the age of your home and the materials used during construction, your sewer line may be vulnerable to cracks or fractures. Homes built before 1980 generally used clay piping, which has an average lifespan of 50-70 years. Many newer homes have PVC sewer pipes, which can last a century or more. However, this doesn’t mean that these homes are immune to sewer problems: many cracks are caused by tree roots wrapping around or breaking into the line. If you have a large tree above or near your sewer line, your home might be at risk.
You’ll often smell a leaking sewer line before you see it. A cracked sewer line will begin to release wastewater in your yard leading to the municipal sewer. Most sewer line issues are often self-compounding: the presence of water attracts nearby tree and plant roots to further grow into the line, causing a partial or full blockage to form.
Sewer line blockage
A blocked sewer line means big trouble for your home. All the water used in your home—from your kitchen sink to your showers and toilets—now has nowhere to go but back up. The unfortunate result is a sewer backup that can flood your home, causing significant water damage.
Most sewer line blockages are caused by the long, slow buildup of a clog inside of the pipe. Grease, oil, coffee grounds, and more can all start to form a clog inside of a sewer line. In other cases, a blockage starts with a sewer line crack that then attracts tree roots. The root grows into the line in an attempt to monopolize the water, eventually obstructing the flow of wastewater away from your home.
Avoiding sewer line issues
Homeowners can prevent clogs from forming by disposing of grease, oil, and coffee grounds in the trash instead of the sink. If you have trees or plants above or near your sewer line, consider moving them to another part of your property.
Water heater tank failure
All water heater tanks are eventually susceptible to corrosion. This typically starts when the sacrificial anode rod inside the water heater is used up, about 8-10 years into the life of the water heater. The corrosion that the rod once attracted now begins to attack the tank walls. As a result, the tank may begin to leak at the seams. It is also vulnerable to an event known as a “tank burst.” This is caused when the pressure-relief valve fails and the weakened water heater tank can no longer handle the pressure of the rapidly heating water. The tank then bursts open, releasing water into your garage or home, depending on where the unit is located.
While the water heater itself is relatively inexpensive to replace, any water damage to your home will cost much, much more to repair.
Avoiding water heater issues
If you have a standard water heater in your home, keep tabs on the state of the anode rod, especially as the unit gets older. If you notice corrosion symptoms—rust-colored water, visible leaks or rusting on the tank exterior, or a spent anode rod—make plans to replace your water heater as soon as possible.
You should also talk to your local plumber about having an automatic shutoff valve installed for your water heater. In the event of a leak or burst, this type of valve will turn off the water supply to the water heater, greatly reducing the impact of flooding.
Take care of your home’s plumbing
Your home is your most important investment. Remain vigilant and on the watch for leaks, water heater issues, or anything else with the potential to lead to water damage. When in doubt, consult with a professional and certified plumber in your area. They’ll be able to provide you with an assessment of the situation and let you know what your next steps should be.
About Author: Victoria Sanders is the communications director and writer at Reimer Home Services, a professional home repair & plumbing company servicing Western New York. She has been working within the home repair industry for almost 15 years and enjoys sharing her insights on home repairs with homeowners and real estate professionals. At Reimer, we understand that being invited into a customer’s home to perform a service is a privilege, and we take this responsibility very seriously.