Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Los Angeles?
- 2 How Does the Water in Los Angeles Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Los Angeles?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Los Angeles?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Los Angeles vs. Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Los Angeles?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles homeowners and their properties are vulnerable to many of the same plumbing concerns that affect homes across the country. Most commonly reported problems include:
- Clogged, backed-up, or slow drains
- Leaking faucets, toilets, water and gas pipes, and other fixture leaks
- Changes to pipes, including replacements, upgrades, and new installations
Historic neighborhoods, such as Lincoln Heights or Angelino Heights, and areas where homes may have seen fewer plumbing updates, such as Inglewood or Watts, are more likely to have older plumbing which can be more prone to leaks and other problems. Of course, the Los Angeles area is well known for its seismic activity, leading to some unique issues, particularly for older, more inferior quality, or less frequently maintained plumbing. Common plumbing projects related to earthquake-related preparedness and repairs include:
- Installation of earthquake shutoff valves for gas lines
- Repair of damage to gas and water lines and fixtures caused by earthquake movement
How Does the Water in Los Angeles Affect Your Plumbing?
Water supplied by the Department of Water & Power in Los Angeles (LADWP) is generally of good quality and should cause few, if any, problems for your plumbing. However, there may be minor issues in some areas that can affect residential plumbing, primarily water hardness.
About Water “Hardness”
One way to measure water quality is to measure its “hardness,” or the volume of minerals, mainly calcium carbonate, dissolved in it. The greater the dissolved mineral content, measured in grains per gallon, the “harder” the water is. In the Los Angeles area, municipal water supplies average from 5.6 to 6.9 grains per gallon, placing it in the average hardness range (4 grains or under is soft and 7 grains and above is hard). While most of our water falls in the average range, it can vary to some extent. The softest water in our area is in West LA and the Valley, while you can find the hardest water around East LA and the Harbor. Harder water can cause mineral buildup inside pipes and fixtures over time, noticeable in clogged showerheads and aerators, and earlier water heater failure. Softer water can leach more chemicals from pipes and cause them to fail earlier than expected occasionally. Generally, though, our Los Angeles water isn’t likely to cause any plumbing problems.
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Los Angeles?
One of the most common concerns people have when anticipating, or dreading, a call to our plumbers is what it will cost. Worries over cost can encourage some people to delay making repairs until more minor problems become major issues. Naturally, there’s no way to make an accurate estimate that would apply across the board. Still, you may be pleased to know that the cost of our labor and materials for plumbing services in the Los Angeles area generally ranges from about $120 to $800, with an average of $450. Of course, several factors can affect whether your plumbing costs fall in this average range or extend beyond it. These factors may include:
Cost Factor: Scope and Nature of the Service
As with any project, the more complicated and extensive it is, the more likely it is to be more expensive. For example, simply unclogging a toilet or replacing the faucet on a sink or bathtub will likely fall in the lower end of the cost spectrum. On the other hand, determining and remedying the cause of a sewer line backup or a difficult-to-find water leak will almost certainly push expenses beyond the average range. Emergency plumbing service is often more expensive than scheduled service, too. Finally, one of the big problems with plumbing repairs is that so much is unknown — hidden with the pipes inside walls and underground, meaning until our professional inspection is done, it’s hard to know what to expect.
Cost Factor: Additional Expenses and Labor
While our labor costs are pretty standard, the amount of labor required for a job can be as variable as the problems that plumbers may encounter, which can directly affect how much your plumbing project will cost. In addition, Los Angeles requires permits for the vast majority of plumbing work beyond unclogging drains and fixing minor leaks, which adds to the overall cost.
Cost Factor: Cost of Materials and Supplies
Among the many unknowns when evaluating a repair or remodeling project is the varying cost of materials and supplies needed to complete the work. Prices are constantly fluctuating, particularly if weather or other conditions have affected supply chains and logistics.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Los Angeles?
Whether you’re new to Los Angeles or are a lifelong Angeleno, you’re sure to be aware of how critical it is to conserve one of our most precious resources, our water. The good news is that almost all of the ways you can conserve water are also ones that will help you save money, and doing so involves a combination of good choices and good plumbing. Here are just a few of the ways that taking care of your plumbing can help you save.
Fixing leaks will ensure you use less water, but did you know the average household can waste up to 10,000 gallons per year due to leaks? That can add up quickly. You’ll also save when you fix even the most minor leaks because those little leaks can quickly turn into big problems with the risk of water damage and other much more expensive repairs. You’ll also help ensure you don’t violate some of our area’s many water conservation ordinances and regulations.
Regular Inspections and Maintenance
Most of us resent the time and expense of doing regular inspections and maintenance, whether it’s for your plumbing or an annual trip to the dentist. However, having regular sewer line inspections and drain augering is a reasonably inexpensive way to detect and prevent more extensive problems from developing.
Replacing or updating older, less efficient fixtures with newer versions is an excellent way to save water and save money. Low-flow fixtures don’t even have to cost you a lot since LADWP offers some free water conservation equipment such as faucet aerators and water-conserving showerheads. They also guide you on taking part in various rebate and reward programs, which can help offset any plumbing update costs you may have.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Los Angeles vs. Hire a Plumber?
You can deal with plumbing-related issues by hiring our plumbers unless you see a water main spouting in the street. However, a few times when contacting the LADWP may be the better choice. Here are some ways to figure it out.
In nearly all cases, leaks in municipal lines are the water company’s responsibility, while leaks on your property are your responsibility. Whether you spot a leak because there’s standing water seeping up from the ground or you notice a steadily increasing water bill despite no significant changes in your usage, you may want to do a little detective work. One quick and easy way to check is to call our plumbers who can come out and determine the cause of your unusual water usage or situation. If you’re ready to do a little sleuthing first, you can try turning off the water supply to your home using the main water valve in your house. If the water meter continues to run while you have turned off the water supply, you’ll want to call us to investigate the most likely problem on your property. If the water meter doesn’t move, it’s likely a water company problem, and you should notify them instead.
Water Supply Issues
Some water supply issues are best solved with the help of our plumbing specialists, while others may require a call to LADWP. If you notice a sudden drop in water pressure, the most likely culprit is a problem with the municipal supply, such as a water main break. Start by checking with neighbors to see if it’s just you or if others who share your street’s supply are having problems, too. If it’s only your home, and you’ve ruled out any obvious leaks or partially closed valves, it’s a good time to call in our professionals. Our plumbers can determine the problem and how best to fix it. Typical water supply problems include clogged or corroded pipes, leaks, and clogged aerators.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Los Angeles?
Building permits and inspections are an important way governments help ensure the quality and safety of homes and other structures by ensuring they follow proper building codes. The local government carefully designs building codes to maximize your safety in your own home and among neighbors, particularly in an earthquake-prone area like ours. In general, Los Angeles ordinances require permits for nearly all plumbing projects where any pipes or fixtures are installed, replaced, or rearranged. Common plumbing projects that require a permit in Los Angeles include:
- Installing new water or gas pipes or drains
- Installing a bathtub or shower pan
- Installing a new garbage disposal or replacing one (unless you are removing and reinstalling the same disposal unit)
- Installing a new drain trap
- Installing new shower, bathtub, or gas valves
- Installing a new toilet or replacing one
- Replacing the subfloor under bathroom fixtures, including bathtubs, toilets, and shower units
- Installing or replacing a water heater — including the installation of earthquake strapping for it
It can be complicated to figure out what projects may require permitting and, which permits to request. Working with our professional plumbers can simplify things. You’ll also have the confidence and satisfaction of knowing our plumber has been thoroughly tested and passed the examination required of all professional plumbers by the Los Angeles County Board of Examiners of Plumbing. The exam is necessary for plumbers, gas fitters, and plumbing and gas fitting contractors.