Photo By monkeybusinessimages at istock
When you’re buying a home for the first time, there are a lot of things you might not think about. One thing a lot of Arlington, TX, homeowners overlook is how important it is to know a little bit about plumbing. Not only do you need to know how to keep an eye on toilets and faucets, but you also need to know about the major parts of your plumbing system, particularly water and drain lines. If you want to know more about the water lines in your home and water line repair, here’s a quick guide.
What Are Water Lines?
Every home consists of two different types of pipes: water lines and drain lines. Drain lines are designed to take any water that goes down a drain (your toilet, sink, or shower, for example) and send it to the main sewer system. Water lines, on the other hand, are responsible for delivering fresh water to your home. This is why water line repair in Arlington, TX is such an important thing to know about.
Water lines are generally much smaller than drain lines, and they’re also made of different materials. This means that you need to be careful about different things when it comes to your water lines vs. your drain lines. This can be especially problematic in older homes, as outdated water line materials can lead to the need for more frequent repairs.
What Are Water Lines Made Of?
One important thing to understand is what water lines are made of and how that affects them. Some water lines are more likely to need frequent water line repairs, plus the lifespan of a water line is very dependent on what it’s made of. If you want to be a responsible homeowner, you also need to know what kind of water lines you have in your home and how old they are.
Water lines today are generally made of either copper or PEX. Copper has been in use for quite some time and is great when it comes to preventing frequent water line repairs. However, copper is also a lot more expensive than other water line materials, so the water line repair savings often aren’t enough to coerce homeowners to install copper lines. Instead, PEX has been the most popular alternative in recent years. PEX is a type of polyethylene that makes a great water pipe, particularly due to the affordability and ease of installation.
Older homes often used galvanized water lines, which are prone to several problems. Galvanized lines tend to react with water and soil, causing them to corrode and fail quicker than other types of lines. Plus, these pipes don’t last as long as copper despite them still being an expensive option.
Where Are Water Lines Located?
Another thing that’s good to know is where the water lines in your home are actually located. The tricky part about water lines is that they run all throughout your home to deliver water to all the fixtures. This is one of the things that can make water line repair such a complicated task.
The main water line runs from the water meter out near the street to your home. This main water supply typically enters your home near a hose bib, where you may also find a valve for shutting off your water supply. From here, lines are run throughout your home depending on the configuration.
This is where things get tricky. If you live in a standard single-story home, your water lines will be primarily located in the floor and the walls. However, two-story homes often have water lines run through walls from one floor to another, which can make things a little trickier to access.
Essentially, you’ve got a water line running from any fixture in your home (toilets, faucets, and showers) to your main water supply. Again, this is part of what can make the water line repair process so difficult to figure out.
How Long Do Water Lines Last?
As we mentioned previously, the type of water lines you have has a big impact on how long you can expect them to last. Some materials are notorious for requiring frequent water line repairs, while others tend to last quite a while without any major problems. If you’re not sure what kind of water lines you have in your home, you can always have a plumber perform an inspection to give you a better idea of what you’re working with.
Galvanized water lines are the oldest of the bunch, and they also tend to present the most problems. These pipes can have bad corrosion on the inside that causes waste to get snagged and create clogs. Plus, these pipes only tend to last about 40 to 50 years, and that’s if you take the time to keep up with water line repairs.
Copper lines are a more modern choice, but they’re still not the most modern. The great part about copper lines is that they’re tough and they last a long time; if all goes well, your copper water lines can last as long as 70 years. However, the pinhole leaks that copper lines are known for can leave you spending quite a bit on water line repairs. Plus, copper pipe is a lot more expensive than the alternatives, so it’s a bigger investment upfront, too.
PEX water lines are the most common today due to their unique combination of affordability, durability, and ease of use. PEX water lines don’t require frequent water line repairs, and they have simpler repair options such as SharkBite fittings. While PEX water lines only last 40 or 50 years, they’re still the best option on the market in Arlington, TX today.
Replacing Water Lines
If you recently purchased an older home or have been living in your home for a long time, it could be time to replace the water lines in your home. However, there are a few things you should know if you’re considering replacing your water lines rather than hiring a water line repair company.
First off, you shouldn’t replace water lines too prematurely unless they have major problems. As tempting as it may be to repipe your home after 20 or 30 years to prevent problems, there’s a good chance you can get at least another decade or two out of your pipes if you wait.
When you do have new water lines installed, make sure you opt for PEX or copper. These are your best choices when it comes to durability, and chances are you won’t be replacing your lines again for another 50 years at least.
Finally, ask your plumber if you need to change the size of your water lines for futureproofing. While your lines may be fine for your current needs, it could be that you need a larger water supply line running to a portion of your Arlington, TX, home if you want to add more fixtures at some point.
Water Line Corrosion
If you have galvanized or copper water lines in your home, there’s a decent chance you’ll end up dealing with corrosion at some point. Water line corrosion is a problem for several reasons. When the inside of a line corrodes, it can create snags that catch things you flush down your toilet. When the outside of a line corrodes, it can lead to leaks that require expensive water line repairs.
Galvanized water lines are the worst when it comes to leaks. If you have galvanized pipes in your home, you should at least have somebody run a camera through them to check on the condition of the line. If you want to be particularly diligent about preventing problems, you can upgrade your galvanized pipes to PEX.
Copper lines aren’t quite as bad as galvanized for corrosion, but it can still happen. The bigger worry with copper pipes is that corrosion will lead to a small leak that’s hard to spot and only gets worse with time.
What’s a Slab Leak?
You might have heard the term “slab leak” before, but do you know what it means? A slab leak is a leak in your water lines that occurs beneath the slab (or foundation) that your home was built on. The big problem with slab leaks is that they require more extensive water line repairs, sometimes involving the removal of a portion of the slab to access the pipe.
The best way to know if you’ve got a slab leak in your home is to install a smart leak detection system. Because you can’t see underneath your home, you need another set of eyes to help you spot problems that require water line repairs. A smart leak detection system monitors changes in water pressure to determine when there’s a leak in your home, then notifies you via a smartphone app that you have a leak. While these systems may not be 100% accurate 100% of the time, they’re a good first line of defense.
What’s a Pinhole Leak?
Copper lines are known to wear down and develop very small leaks, also known as pinhole leaks. These leaks get their name from the fact that they’re so tiny. If you didn’t know any better, you would think a pinhole leak was the result of a small, sharp object puncturing your water line.
Pinhole leaks generally occur in walls and ceilings, which means they’re a little easier to deal with. But even though these leaks are small, they can still cause a lot of water damage if you don’t handle them appropriately. As soon as you notice you have a pinhole leak, call a repair company to have them check it out. Simply replacing a section of copper pipe is enough to solve a pinhole leak, and that’s a lot cheaper than paying for water damage cleanup.
Leak detection systems can also be helpful for pinhole leaks. The earlier you spot a small leak, the less damage it will cause and the easier water line repair will be.
Frozen & Burst Water Lines
If there’s one problem you never want to deal with when it comes to your water lines, it’s a frozen or burst pipe. Water lines are susceptible to freezing during the winter when temperatures drop, even in Texas where it doesn’t typically get that cold. When a water line freezes, the water inside expands and busts the pipe, leaving a gaping hole for water to pour out of when the pipe thaws.
Water line repair isn’t a big concern when it comes to a burst water line. Not only can these burst lines cause a significant amount of water damage in your home, but they also pour out enough water that it can have a large impact on your monthly water bill, too. If you ever notice a burst or frozen pipe in your home, make sure you call an emergency plumber as soon as possible.
Fortunately, preventing frozen water lines isn’t the most difficult process. As long as you make sure pipes in exterior walls are properly insulated, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. For added protection, you can install heat tape on pipes that are susceptible to freezing, which keeps them warm enough that the water inside won’t freeze.
As helpful as this information may be to you, there’s no replacement for having the number of a good plumbing company you can count on. Whether you need water line repair, replacement, or just some simple advice, the team at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Fort Worth is here to help. We know all about the latest plumbing trends in Arlington, TX, and how important it is to protect yourself against potential plumbing disasters. To find out more about water line repair and replacement or schedule a service appointment today, give Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Fort Worth a call at (817) 478-4119.