Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Berkeley?
- 2 How Does the Water in Berkeley Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Berkeley?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Berkeley?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Berkeley vs Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Berkeley?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Berkeley?
Berkeley, CA is a truly unique city. With its world-renowned university, it attracts residents from all over the world who come to the area to learn, teach, and research. The city, with a population of approximately 121,000, is nestled between the beautiful San Francisco Bay and the East Bay hills. Its residents enjoy the sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge as they walk through the university campus or surrounding neighborhoods.
Of course, despite this idyllic setting, Berkeley homeowners and business owners are not immune to many of the same plumbing issues that affect buildings all over the States. Most commonly reported problems include:
- Backed-up or slow drains
- Leaking toilets, faucets, and other fixtures
- Issues with water pressure
- Tree roots in pipes
Some historic neighborhoods, such as Elmwood and Claremont, as well as neighborhoods where homes may have seen fewer plumbing updates, such as South Berkeley or Southside, are more likely to have older plumbing which can be more prone to leaks and other problems. And of course, as a city in California, Berkeley experiences its share of earthquakes, which can contribute to certain plumbing issues as well, especially if the plumbing has not been properly maintained. Common plumbing projects to prepare for earthquakes or deal with their aftermath include:
- Installation of earthquake shutoff valves for gas lines
- Repair of gas and water lines and fixtures damaged by earthquakes
How Does the Water in Berkeley Affect Your Plumbing?
Berkeley’s municipal water is supplied from water that travels from the Sierra Nevada foothills to the East Bay. The Sierra Nevada snowmelt is an integral contributor to the drinking water of every Berkeley resident. In years when snowfall is scarce, Berkeley residents will take note when the level of their reservoirs begins to drop.
Berkeley’s water consistently meets all federal standards and is tested frequently. Water treatment for Berkeley residents takes place at the Orinda treatment facility, which is located on the other side of the beautiful Berkeley hills. The Orinda Water Treatment Plant is one of six plants operated by EBMUD. Together these plants can filter and process more than 375 million gallons of water every day, bringing clean drinking water to residents throughout the East Bay.
About Water “Hardness”
While Berkeley does have high-quality water, it also has water that is considered slightly hard. Water that is considered hard contains a high level of dissolved calcium and/or magnesium. Berkeley city water has a hardness ranging from 16-36 ppm, which qualifies as slightly hard.
The slightly hard water in Berkeley may have no immediate effect on your plumbing. But over time, you may begin to notice its effects. Beyond the nuisance of finding it difficult to shampoo your hair or wash your dishes effectively, it may lead to mineral buildup that can clog pipes, limit the lifespan of your water heater, and create other plumbing difficulties.
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Berkeley?
People often put off calling our plumbers because they are worried about what service might cost. This procrastination can backfire, however, if one lets a problem continue to grow. In such cases, expenses can easily rise if problems are not dealt with when they are small. Of course, it’s impossible to predict with any certainty what our plumbers might cost in Berkeley because so much depends on the services that you need. Nevertheless, it is possible to get a general idea of a range of plumbing charges that Berkeley residents could expect to incur. Most jobs we complete in the area fall between $150 and $800. As mentioned above, though, there are a number of factors that go into determining how much you ultimately pay for your plumbing service. These factors may include:
Cost Factor: Type of Service
Plumbing service can range from simple repairs, such as unclogging a toilet or sink, to more involved endeavors, such as installing a water heater or even locating an underground leak. Expenses will of course rise along with the complexity and length of the project. Should you have an emergency, you can expect costs to rise even more. Off-hours or rush service come with premium price tags in most cases. Finally, there’s always the unexpected to contend with. In doing one project, our plumber may discover unknown, hidden damage to pipes, perhaps caused by an earthquake or simply age. These surprises can lead costs to rise even more.
Cost Factor: Permits
As mentioned above, the amount of work that must go into a plumbing job will vary greatly by the nature of the project. What can also vary are the additional expenses of any possible permits required for the project. Should a permit be required for your work, that will of course end up coming out of your pocket, even if our plumber is the person who files for the permit. As discussed further below, Berkeley requires permits for much plumbing work beyond unclogging drains and fixing small leaks, which adds to the overall cost.
Cost Factor: Cost of Materials and Supplies
Costs of materials are becoming harder and harder to predict these days, thanks to fluctuations in price resulting from supply chain challenges. This is true as much in plumbing as in any other industry. Thus, you will need to be prepared that any research you do on pricing for your project today may no longer apply should you decide to wait another few months or even weeks before asking our plumber to undertake the work.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Berkeley?
Whether you’re new to Berkeley or are a lifelong East Bay resident, you’re sure to be aware of how critical it is to conserve water. In addition to being good for planet Earth, though, the benefits of conserving water also extend to our wallets. Read on for some ways in which making a few adjustments now can continue to save you money over the long run.
Here’s a statistic that may surprise you: American households can waste up to 10,000 gallons per year as a result of water leaks. Just imagine what else you could do with the extra money you’re spending on your water bills. Even the smallest leaks should be repaired because they can create water damage to flooring, ceilings, and other fixtures over time.
As a resident of Berkeley, you will want to make sure that you are following the guidelines of Berkeley’s Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance. This will involve replacing older faucets and toilets with newer, low-flow models, among other necessary tasks. Low-flow fixtures aren’t terribly expensive, and they often more than pay for themselves over their lifetime.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Berkeley vs Hire a Plumber?
Most minor plumbing problems are appropriate for our professional plumbers. Fixture installations, leaks, and problems of that nature don’t require the big guns. There are times, though, when it is likely a better idea to reach out to a utility company such as EBMUD. Read on for some examples of situations where it is better to choose one or the other.
Water Leaks Outside the Home
If you see a suddenly soggy patch of ground in your yard, or your driveway is beginning to mysteriously crumble, or your water bill is shooting up for no apparent reason, you may begin to suspect that you have a water line break somewhere outside your home. But if this is the case, who do you call? The answer depends in large part on whether the leak is in a water line on your property or in a line owned by the utility company. If the leak is in a line owned by the company, you’re in luck: EBMUD will need to perform the repair at their own cost. If it is in a line on your property, however, you may be in for a significant plumbing bill. If you’re not sure where the leak might be occurring, you will likely want to call our knowledgeable plumbers who can locate the problem point before proceeding further.
Water Supply Issues
If your water pressure drops suddenly, or you have no water at all coming into your home, it’s time for some investigation. Start by checking with your neighbors: are they experiencing similar issues? If so, your best bet will be to contact EBMUD. They can send a service professional to inspect and repair their lines as needed.
If yours is the only household on the block experiencing a lack of water, however, you’re probably going to want to call us. You most likely have a leak somewhere on your property. Before calling our experts, make sure to check whether you have any partially closed valves that could explain the problem. If not, our plumber would be your best choice for identifying the problem and rectifying it. The problem may stem from clogged or corroded pipes, clogged aerators, or even something like tree roots invading your pipes.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Berkeley?
While obtaining a permit for your plumbing project may seem like a hassle, construction-related permits are some of the main ways in which local governments can ensure that structures remain safe for their residents. They exist to make sure that contractors follow all applicable building codes. This is especially important in a city such as Berkeley, which can be earthquake-prone. Common plumbing projects for which a permit must be obtained in Berkeley include:
- Installing or replacing a water heater
- Building a home addition
- Installing new fixtures
- Adding a water meter
- Installing lawn sprinklers
- Installing swimming pool filtration systems
An advantage of hiring our knowledgeable plumbing professionals is that he or she is familiar with the municipal permit requirements, saving you the time and effort of sorting through the bureaucracy.