Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Flint?
- 2 How Does the Water in Flint Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Flint?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Flint?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Flint vs Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Flint?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Flint?
There’s no doubt that water safety is the first issue that comes to mind when plumbing is mentioned in Flint, Michigan. Yet, seven years after the Flint water crisis, the city’s water is considered safe to drink. After thousands of service lines were dug up by contractors and replaced, the line replacement program is almost complete. Even as the outlined project nears an end, this doesn’t necessarily mean that every residence is taken care of. With 9,912 lines replaced and over 26,000 excavations completed, the city has plans in place for about 500 more line replacements. However, homes that haven’t been inspected could still be in danger. The deadline to join the replacement program has been extended, and residents must submit consent forms to participate.
While the service line replacement program provides residents and business owners with an opportunity to have the service line inspected and replaced, it doesn’t solve all potential plumbing issues in the city. A plumbing service line runs from the main water line to your home. For many residents, the plumbing system running throughout the home is aging and outdated. Unfortunately, this means you may face other issues that require the assistance of our plumbers. Here are some of the most common plumbing issues in Flint.
Older water systems like the ones in Flint are more prone to leaks due to normal wear and the use of copper pipes. Copper pipes can deteriorate over time due to natural wear and the use of corrosive water. Leaky pipes can come from breaks, small cracks, and even pinholes. Leaky pipes can increase your water bill, cause irrigation issues when located underground, and severely damage your home.
The most common signs of leaky pipes include:
- Increasing water bills
- Stains from mold or mildew on walls and ceilings
- Musty smelling rooms
- Foundation cracks
- Wet spots ceilings, walls, and floors
Low Water Pressure
Lead contamination in Flint’s water system didn’t originate from the water source. Instead, the corrosive water leached lead from existing plumbing systems. Flint’s water was corrosive during this time because it wasn’t treated properly. Unfortunately, this corrosive water also traveled through the plumbing systems of homes and businesses. Corrosive water causes oxidation in copper pipes, and the resulting debris clogs water systems slowing the flow of water. Sadly, clean water doesn’t solve the problem since the structure of the pipes has been damaged.
A combination of aging pipes and the effects of corrosive water can also affect the way your drains and sewer work. Slow drains, toilets that clog frequently, and sewage backup are all symptoms of clogged pipes. Aging plumbing and sewer systems like the ones in Flint are more susceptible to leaks due to pipe collapse and infiltration from tree roots.
Frigid winters in Michigan can also have adverse effects on plumbing. Frozen water pipes can stop water from running to one faucet or leave you with no running water in your home. Even worse, as the water expands, pipes can burst and flood your home. Since many residential plumbing systems in Flint are older systems, copper pipes are common. When ice expands, these rigid pipes fail to flex and can split from the pressure buildup of ice and trapped water. If you experience frozen water pipes, it’s best to call our plumbers right away to avoid potential damage to your home.
Water Heater Corrosion and Leaks
Your water heater is designed to last approximately 20 years, but it can also deteriorate due to the effects of corrosive water. Your water heater is actually designed to withstand many of the effects of corrosion. However, without proper maintenance, these features can fail. Corrosion can lead to rust on the inside and outside of your water heater. This rust leads to discolored water, rust in the hot water, and water heater leaks.
How Does the Water in Flint Affect Your Plumbing?
The water used in Flint today doesn’t have harmful effects on your plumbing. However, it’s possible your plumbing is suffering from the effects of the corrosive water of the past. Corrosive water can cause irreversible effects on plumbing systems including the deterioration of pipes, leaching of lead from connection points, water heater deterioration, and deterioration of plumbing fixtures.
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Flint?
Like in most areas, the cost of plumbing services in Flint can vary dramatically. For instance, the cost of clearing a drain clog is around $120, while the cost of a bathtub installation is over $1,800.
The typical cost of plumbing repairs overall in Flint is between $102 and $743 with an average of around $420. While this includes the cost of labor and materials, it leaves out other potential costs like permits, inspections, and sales tax. The average cost of labor for residential plumbing repairs is around $68 and the cost of labor for commercial buildings is about $88. These costs don’t include emergency or after-hours pricing.
Cost Factor: Free Line Inspection and Replacement
While the line replacement program doesn’t replace the plumbing system inside your home, it can save you a significant amount of money that property owners are typically responsible for. Your supply line is the line that runs from the public utility system to your home. Since the actions of the city caused damage to these private lines, they are required to replace dangerous lines at no cost to residents. Whether you’ve had your home plumbing system replaced in the past, or you’re considering a new, safer system, you can have your supply line inspected by the city at no cost. If the inspection reveals that your line contains lead, you will be eligible for a free replacement of your service line.
Cost Factor: Permits
Many plumbing services in Flint require a permit. The costs of these permits aren’t typically included in plumbing price quotes. The costs of plumbing permits in Flint vary widely and some require an inspection with a base cost of $75. Depending on your needs, a permit might increase your plumbing repair costs considerably. For instance installation of 1″ distribution lines requires a permit costing $84, while 4″ lines cost $213. Failure to get the required permits can lead to a substantial fine that would quickly outweigh the permit cost.
Cost Factor: Materials
Since many older homes in Flint have aging plumbing systems, these systems typically use copper pipes. If you’re having your system replaced with another material, the copper won’t be an issue. However, if you’re completing routine repairs, you can expect to pay more. When replacing part of a copper line, you can’t use a different material to replace part of the pipe. Since copper is 58% to 68% more expensive than PEX pipes, you can expect a higher cost for repairs to cover the increased cost for materials.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Flint?
Yes! If you haven’t been included in Flint’s line replacement program, your plumbing system could still be experiencing issues related to aging lead and galvanized pipes. More importantly, your water might not be safe. If your supply line hasn’t been inspected, a replacement could still be necessary.
While replacing supply lines is a valuable upgrade, it’s important to remember that your home contains many plumbing materials as well. Many homes with aging supply lines also have aging plumbing systems. These systems are often composed of copper pipes connected with lead solder that experienced the same effects of corrosive water as supply lines during the water crisis. This could mean the pipes within your home were damaged which can lead to leaks, clogs, and other damage. Replacing your aging plumbing system in Flint can save you money in these ways.
- Eliminate constant repair costs due to aging plumbing components.
- Limit frozen pipe damage since modern materials aren’t as likely to split when the ice expands.
- Remove pipes that may rely on lead connections that have been exposed to corrosive water in the past.
- Include water conservation features in your new system that will save you money on your water bill.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Flint vs Hire a Plumber?
Typically, water issues that exist between the public service line and your home are the responsibility of the property owner. However, unique circumstances in Flint mean you can call the utility company for inspection if you have issues with your service line. Additionally, the Flint Water Service Center suggests residents should contact them “if you have any problem with your water, if your water is dark, if you see water leaking out of the ground, or see a fire hydrant running.”
Conversely, plumbing issues in your home typically require the assistance of our plumbers. This may include leaks, running toilets, clogged drains, frozen pipes, water heater replacement, and other common plumbing issues.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Flint?
A variety of plumbing services in Flint require a permit before work begins. Failing to get the proper permit can lead to fines up to $825. If you’re unsure about whether you need a permit, it’s best to contact the city utility division and determine whether an inspection and permit are required. Please note that inspections and the issuance of plumbing permits are required before work begins, not during or after. These plumbing services in Flint require a permit.
- Water line installation
- Sink installation
- Garbage disposal installation
- Water closet
- Backwater valve
- Subsoil drain inside
- Sewage ejector
- Sprinkler system
- Water softener system
- Floor and roof drains
When you contact our plumbers for a quote in Flint, be sure to ask about permitting procedures and the additional cost for a permit. If you’re unsure about whether a permit is required, contact the city water division for clarity. When a permit is required, we always obtain the permit before work begins.