Texas homes come in all shapes and sizes. There are nearly 11.3 million housing units in the state. Some are brand new, while others are quite old.
Texas plumbing is therefore varied. New houses have the latest equipment so homeowners notice few problems. But plumbing in old homes is prone to break down.
What are the most significant old house plumbing problems? What are the signs of a leak or a failing fixture? What can you do to make repairs, and when should you turn things over to a plumber?
Answer these questions and you can make your older house as comfortable as a new one. Here are five typical problems.
Low Water Pressure
Any home you buy should have good water pressure. When you turn a faucet on, water should come out in a consistent stream. When you turn it off, the water should cease.
If you turn on your faucet and little to no water comes out, you may have a pressure problem. Go to different faucets and see if the problem persists. If it does, you have a water pressure problem throughout your house.
This may come from several causes. Sediments may be building up in your faucets or pipes. The pipes themselves may be broken.
Your water heater may have problems. Check the pressure relief valve on it to make sure it is working. It may be going off too early, causing you to lose pressure through your pipes.
You may have a malfunctioning pressure regulator. The regulator is stationed near the intake valve, and it prevents high pressure from warping pipes. If it starts to break, your pressure levels will drop.
You can take certain steps to increase pressure. To clean hard water deposits, pour some vinegar into a bag and wrap it around the faucet. Then secure the band in place and let the faucet soak for at least one hour.
For more extensive plumbing problems, you will need to hire someone. It is essential that you get a broken regulator fixed right away.
Call a repair service and have them come over. Avoid using water until they arrive.
Unfortunately, leaks come in several varieties. Each has its own signs and solutions, so you should learn to distinguish amongst them.
If your faucet drips water, you have a leak. Every faucet contains an internal washer that controls the flow. When it wears down or becomes dislodged, water will leak out.
Take a look at your faucet. Notice how it drips water. If you have a steady flow or constant dripping, you need to replace your washer.
Turn off the supply of water running through your faucet. Then switch the handles on so any pooling water runs out.
Remove the handles and valve stem. The stem will have a screw, and the washer sits beneath it. Take out the washer and insert its replacement.
You can then reassemble your faucet. Once you have, turn the supply of water back on and see what happens. If it continues to drip, you should have someone come in and make repairs.
Before you buy your house, ask for a layout of where the pipes are. You should know how pipes enter your house and where they run through your walls.
The signs of leaking pipes are extensive. You may hear dripping or swirling sounds. You may notice a leak seeping through the wall or floor.
Mold feeds off of water, so mold growing in a room can indicate a leaking pipe. You may detect a musty or strange odor with no apparent source. This is often stagnant water or mold.
Try to shut the supply of water that runs through the pipe. Then put on a respirator and cut into your wall with a drywall saw.
Don’t make too big of a cut. You want to remove a strip between two studs that is a few inches long. Look through the cut and see if you notice a leak.
If you do, you should call a repair service. If you notice mold, you need to call a cleaning crew afterward. Mold can cause respiratory problems and asthma attacks.
Burst Sewer Lines
Sewer lines run beneath many people’s backyards. An old tree can grow roots that damage a line, or an animal can put a hole in it.
Before you buy any home, have a plumber go out and inspect the sewer line. They should notice any roots that could cause damage and remove them. Get their advice on how you can maintain the line through time.
Mold and insect colonies are telltale signs of a burst line. You may notice that spots on your lawn are greener than others. This may be because the line is leaking water into them.
Broken sewer lines can give you substantial bacterial infections. Call someone to repair your line and avoid stepping outside.
Plumbing in old homes can become outdated very quickly. In addition to washers, valves in faucets can break down.
The flapper valve controls the flow of water from the tank into the bowl. A running toilet is usually a sign that the valve is broken. Older toilets may become filled with sediment as well.
The handles for your faucets can break entirely. You may be unable to control the surge of water that comes out.
Most old homes have furnaces to heat water. Furnaces can last up to 30 years, but most homes in Texas last longer. The pilot light may stop working, sending cold water through your pipes.
Previous homeowners may have tried to update these fixtures. Their updates may have caused more harm than good. They may have connected pipes with improper tools, or they may have installed the wrong furnace.
Understand how all parts of your house connect together. When you need to buy a new fixture, make sure it fits with all the old ones.
Be prepared to buy a lot of new fixtures when you buy an older house. Older home plumbing may be functional for a few years. But it will break down with time.
Pipes from several decades ago do not compare with modern pipes. Galvanized pipes contain iron that is coated with zinc. This coating helps water flow, but it breaks down after a few years.
Polybutylene pipes are made with plastic. If you bought a house that went through renovations in the 1980s, you probably have polybutylene pipes. The plastic erodes steadily.
As with fixtures, you need to get a good sense of what your pipes are like. Talk to the previous homeowner about what materials they are made out of.
It is hard to repair a galvanized or polybutylene pipe. You will need to replace it.
Contact a plumber who can put in modern ones that will last for decades. Take note of what materials the new pipes are made from. Give this information to the next occupant of your house.
You can encounter many different kinds of clogs. Thankfully, you can fix most of them by yourself.
Soap scum and hard water can build up in your bathroom drains. In your kitchen sink, you may pour fats and food down the drain, which can solidify.
Run some boiling hot water down your drain. Then sprinkle a little baking soda, and pour in a little vinegar.
Wait for the mixture to sit for ten minutes. Then pour in some more hot water. Keep the water running to see if your drain is unclogged.
You should never throw any items besides toilet paper down your toilet. After you flush, check to see that the water goes down. If it doesn’t, you have a clog.
Take out a plunger and fit it over the hole. Make sure you have a tight fit with your handle over the top of your plunger.
You should then push up and down several times. This creates compression and suction that loosens the clog up.
If the toilet drains, the clog is fixed. If it is not, you can use a mixture of hot water and dish soap.
A toilet will get clogged every now and then. But if you have frequent problems, you may need to get a repair. Get a plumber to come out and inspect the issue.
Schedule a plumbing inspection at least once a year. Have the plumber look at your toilet in particular. Make sure the piping is extensive and solid.
Common Texas Plumbing Problems
Texas plumbing isn’t perfect. You may encounter low water pressure. Your faucets may be clogged with sediment, or you may have a broken regulator.
The washer in your faucet may break, and you can replace it. But you may run into a leaking pipe or sewer line. You may need to swap out an old fixture.
Pipes from just a few decades ago can wear down. But even new pipes can get clogged, especially in your toilet.
Don’t wait for your plumbing to fix itself. L&P Plumbing is a premium Austin plumbing service. Schedule a service today.