Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Merced?
- 2 How Does the Water in Merced Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Merced?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Merced?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Merced vs Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Merced?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Merced?
Merced is a fantastic city, with all the best things central California has to offer. It’s the gateway to Yosemite, it has the first American research university to open in the 21st century, and it’s just generally a wonderful place to live. But you can still have plumbing issues if you live here. Some of the most common issues we see are:
- Leaking or slow fixtures (especially faucets)
- Clogged drains, often caused by mineral build-up from the city’s hard water
- Inspections and maintenance of pipes
- Removing fixtures and installing new ones
Historic neighborhoods such as Old Town Merced tend to have older plumbing, which means an increase in service calls due to leaks and general wear.
One of the significant environmental issues in Merced is flooding. In unusually wet years, the Merced River is at risk of overtopping its banks and flooding the nearby buildings. The floods can cause drains and sewer lines to back up, on top of the damage from the flood itself. Paradoxically, another common concern in the area is drought — while Merced County isn’t one of the driest parts of California, it is at risk from drought, which can cause soil to dry out and put excess pressure on pipes. The added pressure on pipes can age them rapidly and cause leaks, which waste water and make the drought much more challenging to live through.
The other major thing to consider about your plumbing in Merced is earthquakes. While Merced isn’t on any significant fault lines itself, its position close to the San Andreas Fault line means that when the Big One hits, it’s a good bet your home will be at least a little shaken up as well. Earthquakes can dislodge plumbing, break connections or pipes, and destroy equipment like water heaters. This is why it’s a good idea to have an earthquake shut-off valve installed that can cut off your gas service in the event of a significant quake.
How Does the Water in Merced Affect Your Plumbing?
The Water Division of Merced controls more than 500 miles of pipes that handle more than 35 million gallons of water on a single day in the summer. The Water Division of Merced pumps most of this water from underground wells, where it’s cleaned and treated. While tap water is perfectly safe to drink, it can affect your plumbing in unexpected ways.
On Water Hardness
The “hardness” of water isn’t measured by how frozen it is but by the amount of dissolved minerals such as calcium carbonate and magnesium. These chemicals are typical in water, and even purified bottled water adds some amount of these minerals back in because we’re used to the taste. There are a few problems with hard water, though: it can make washing your dishes and your hands more difficult by creating soap scum, and it can cause limescale buildup in pipes and fixtures. The hardness of Merced’s water is on average 123 milligrams per liter of water, which makes it only slightly hard. Its hardness means limescale is a concern, but not too much of one. If your fixtures start flowing less, you may want to consider the limescale as a cause.
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Merced?
Many factors go into the plumbing cost, so it’s impossible to give an exact estimate without our experts looking at the specific job they have to do. However, the average plumbing repair in California costs about $450. Most jobs fall between $125 and $975 in the city.
Cost Factor: Type of Service
The more complicated and difficult any service is, the more you can expect to pay for that service. That’s true in any industry, but especially in plumbing. What seems like a simple pinhole leak at first may lead to a more significant, systemic problem that you need to address. Many simple jobs do remain straightforward and stay at the cheaper end of the cost spectrum. These jobs can include unclogging drains or replacing fixtures. More intensive projects, such as remodels or installing large fixtures such as bathtubs, can be more complex. This is why having regular plumbing inspections done by our team can be such a lifesaver: you can find hidden issues before they start causing systemic problems or damaging your home.
Cost Factor: Cost of Parts and Supplies
The cost of parts may seem obvious, but many people don’t think about them when pricing their plumbing work. However self-evident, replacing your toilet does mean buying a new toilet. Many people ignore the idea of paying for replacement pipes or repairs to the walls and ceilings if a leak is challenging to access.
Cost Factor: Urgency of the Work
The concepts of supply and demand apply just as much to our plumbers as the rest of the world. If you have a slow leak in an exposed pipe at 10 PM, you may be able to put down a bucket and call us during regular business hours. If that same pipe is spewing water, you don’t have that luxury. Calling our plumbers outside business hours (or on weekends or holidays) will come at a premium. Likewise, a significant event (such as a flood or earthquake) will mean that every one of your neighbors also needs our assistance, and you can expect to pay extra if you want our plumber to come right away.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Merced?
Better plumbing can not only save you money in Merced, but it can also help you save the environment. The good thing is that preparing for drought years will save you money even when it’s pouring rain. Here are a few ways you can save money by improving your plumbing.
Finding and Fixing Leaks
Not every leak is evident. Sometimes the only sign of a leak can be an unusually humid area of your home. Even the most minor pinhole leak can waste 90 gallons or more of water every day — that’s more than a shower — and can account for up to 14 percent of a home’s total water usage. Gaskets and pipe fittings are common points of failure, and these are easy to replace. Finding leaks like this early also reduces the amount of damage done in your home and can help you prevent a costly repair and homeowner’s insurance claim. Never underestimate the destructive power of water.
Updating Fixtures and Appliances
When updating your plumbing, make sure to choose water-efficient fixtures, especially ones with the EPA’s WaterSense logo. WaterSense fixtures and appliances perform to the same standard as their high-flow counterparts but use a fraction of the water, meaning you start saving immediately after installing them. Even simply replacing the aerators on your faucets can save hundreds or thousands of gallons a year, depending on your household’s usage patterns. If you’re installing larger fixtures such as a sprinkler system or water heater, the savings can be even more significant. Even simple improvements like insulating your hot water pipes can reduce waste by reducing the amount of time you wait for your water to get hot.
Preventative Inspections and Maintenance
Finding leaks before they cause damage can save you vast amounts of money, not only in water use but also in repairs. Our professional plumbers have minimally-invasive video inspection systems that go through your pipes like a drain snake, helping you spot weak points and outright leaks without needing to disrupt your life. The old cliché that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies double when water is involved. Not only can preventative maintenance help you find leaks and other problems before they become catastrophic, but they can also prevent water damage to the rest of your property.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Merced vs Hire a Plumber?
The Water Division of Merced is responsible for all municipal plumbing in the city. Their responsibility ends where your property begins, however, and sometimes finding the source of water leaks can be a challenge. Most of the time, you’ll find that problems are on your property and are your responsibility, but there are a few times when contacting the Water Division can be the best move.
Leaks can be sneaky things, and finding exactly where they are sometimes requires our experts. Other times, it’s easier to find out. One step to follow if you suspect a leak but don’t know its location is to turn the water supply off to your home and watch the water meter. If the meter is continuing to run, the leak is on your property, and you should call us. If the meter stops, contact the Water Division’s emergency line at (209) 385-6500. Likewise, if you see a fire hydrant or water main pouring water into the street, call the Water Division, as that’s a problem for them to fix.
Most of the time, if you lose water to your home, it’s for an apparent reason (such as a completely burst pipe), and an emergency call to our plumbers is in order. If you don’t see one of these in your home or yard, check with the neighbors to see if they’ve lost water. If they have, call the Water Division to report the outage.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Merced?
The City of Merced requires plumbing permits for “the installation, alteration, repair, replacement or remodeling of any plumbing system.” This permit requirement encompasses most plumbing work in the state. This may sound like all plumbing work down to replacing the aerators in your sink, but the Building, Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical Codes allow for exceptions. These exceptions are:
- Clearing stopped drains and fixtures
- Repairing leaks in existing pipes or fixtures
- Replacing fixtures as long as no change in the plumbing configuration happens (If any part of the pipe needs replacement, you need a permit.)
- Emergency gas leak repair, as long as you apply for a permit on the next working day
If the list above doesn’t include the work you need to be done, it requires a permit application, which you can fill out on the City of Merced’s website. Because Merced uses combined permits for building and plumbing work, choose the “Building Permit Application” page.