Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Grand Island?
- 2 How Does the Water in Grand Island Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Grand Island?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Grand Island?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Grand Island vs Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Grand Island?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Grand Island?
Grand Island is an oasis in the Nebraskan plains, and as a town, it’s full of history. It was the last refueling stop for gold prospectors on the way to Pikes Peak and is currently the home of the Nebraska State Fair. That said, there are a few common plumbing issues you can find in Grand Island, and most of them aren’t much different from the rest of the Midwest. These can include:
- Backed up, clogged, or slow drains. This can be caused or worsened by mineral build up from the hard water throughout the city
- Leaking or stopped pipes or fixtures. This is also made worse by the city’s hard water, which corrodes pipes, fixtures, o-rings, and gaskets more rapidly than soft water.
- Replacing, upgrading, or reinstalling pipes. This is a common issue in older homes, which are common throughout Grand Island.
- Installing heaters and air conditioners
- Regular inspections and maintenance. This is necessary to avoid mounting issues with hard water deposits and aging plumbing systems, both common in Grand Island.
Neighborhoods with older houses, especially downtown, will be more prone to these problems, as their plumbing is older and has had more time to decay.
Tornadoes are another common hazard in Nebraska, and if you think the wind has no impact on your plumbing, you’re wrong. Tornadoes (and the flash flooding that can accompany them) can back up septic systems and drains, jostle your pipes loose, and generally cause havoc on all parts of your home, even when you aren’t directly in the path of a tornado. After a large storm, it’s a good idea to test your plumbing at each fixture to make sure nothing has lost pressure, as well as checking your septic tank if you have one.
How Does the Water in Grand Island Affect Your Plumbing?
Grand Island’s water is overall very high quality, and all of its storage facilities are covered, so there isn’t much worry about contamination in the municipal tap water. The city gets its water from 21 wells that the Platte River fills, filtered, purified, and stored for your use. There’s one aspect of municipal water that can damage your plumbing, though, and that’s the hardness of the water.
On Water Hardness
“Hardness” of water is a measurement of the amount of dissolved minerals in the water. These minerals (such as calcium carbonate and magnesium) are perfectly normal and harmless to humans. Purified bottled water often has these minerals added back in because we’re so used to the taste. However, the buildup of these minerals in pipes and fixtures can become a problem. Water hardness is generally measured (in the US, at least) in grains per gallon, with anything over 10.5 grains per gallon of calcium carbonate considered “very hard.” As of Grand Island’s 2020 water quality report, the municipal water supply has a hardness between 16.4 and 20.1 grains per gallon, making it extremely hard.
This can cause a few issues in your home. Hard water is more difficult to clean — you’ll often find soap scum on your dishes or having trouble getting the shampoo out of your hair. But more pressingly, hard water can build up in appliances, pipes, and fixtures, leading to limescale and blockages. While it’s possible to have a plumber install a commercial water softener, it often isn’t worth the expense, even in a city with water this hard; it’s often better to deal with the buildup as it happens through maintenance and cleanings. (This is also why they recommend cleaning your coffee maker with vinegar, as the vinegar helps dissolve the limescale blockages that build up.)
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Grand Island?
There are countless types of plumbing repairs and obstacles unique to each one, so giving an exact estimate on a job requires having our experts take a look at the situation. However, in Nebraska, residential plumbing work generally costs between $125 and $900, before the costs of parts and materials. Various factors can make plumbing more or less expensive, which we will detail in this article.
Cost Factor: Type of Service
It can be nearly impossible to determine the scale of a plumbing job without expert guidance: what looks like a tiny, straightforward leaking faucet could hide a larger blockage or a damaged pipe. That said, many jobs (such as replacing fixtures) are inherently simpler than others, and you’re going to pay less for these than you would for a leak repair. Additionally, owners of larger homes will likely have to pay more for plumbing overall just because there’s that much more piping that needs to be worked on.
Cost Factor: Timing
There are always times (such as after tornadoes or flooding) where our plumbers will be in high demand, and being seen by our experts immediately will come at a premium. In general, any urgent work will cost more than work that can be done on your own schedule.
Cost Factor: Price of Materials
You have to pay for the replacement fixture if you install new fixtures. But a lot of people don’t apply that to pipes. Whether you’re repairing a leak or having your pipes insulated, most plumbing jobs will require some amount of material that you’ll likely pay for. If the problem is a 5-cent washer in a faucet, that’s not a major issue. If it turns out your historic home has non-standard pipe sizes, and one of them has sprung a leak, you’ll probably have to factor in the cost of materials in any repairs you have done, especially since we may need to repipe large sections of your system to fix the issue..
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Grand Island?
Improving your plumbing is an investment that starts saving you money immediately, no matter where you are! Whether your goal is to reduce waste or simply optimize your usage, modern plumbing can help you save a lot of money and can often pay for itself in the form of savings. Here are a few ways improving your plumbing can save you money.
Leaks are a particularly egregious source of water waste, accounting for almost 10,000 gallons of water per year in the average household. That’s throwing money down the drain — literally. Getting these fixed early can save your budget and help conserve one of our most precious resources.
Inspections and Maintenance
Our plumbers have specialized tools that can inspect your pipes without needing to open up your walls, so it’s always cheaper to contact us to have an inspection done than to wait for a leak to pop up. The adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies to plumbing. This is especially important considering how hard (and prone to limescale) our water is here in Grand Island: you don’t need to have dropped something down the toilet for your pipes to clog.
One of the single best ways to conserve water (and save money on your utility bills!) is to replace older fixtures with newer ones that reduce flow while still functioning and their older counterparts. The EPA even maintains a WaterSense calculator to show how much water you can save by replacing the fixtures in your bathroom.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Grand Island vs Hire a Plumber?
Most of the time, the rule is that if you own the pipes, you own the leaks (this is one of the reasons why we recommend preventative inspections and maintenance so highly.) But there are a few circumstances where it can be hard to tell whether a plumbing issue is your problem or the city’s. Here are a few ways you can tell who to call for plumbing problems.
One of the problems with finding leaks in plumbing is that we keep our pipes in basements and walls, so they’re hard to see. If a fire hydrant or a water main is spewing water, that’s a problem for the city, and you should call the Grand Island Utilities Department at (308) 385-5461. Press option 1 to be connected with an emergency operator any time of day. If the leak is on your property, though, you should call our plumbers for help. If you are unsure where the leak is, try turning off the water supply to your home and watch your water meter. If the meter’s reading still climbs, you should call us. If not, contact the Utilities Department.
Loss of Water Pressure
It can be challenging to find the root cause of a drop in water pressure, especially when that drop has happened gradually over a few weeks instead of simply stopping overnight. If you suspect something’s caused you to lose pressure, though, first take a look through your home and try to find any obvious leaks or water damage. If you don’t find anything, check with your neighbors to see if they’ve had similar problems. If they haven’t, it’s best to call in our experts. If they have, you should let the Grand Island Utilities Department know.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Grand Island?
Grand Island requires fewer permits for plumbing than many other cities, but some work still requires permission from the city to ensure that the work follows city ordinances. These jobs include:
- Installing or replacing a water heater
- Installing or replacing gas piping
- Venting a gas appliance
- Replacing a furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump
- Anything that drastically changes the plumbing layout of your home
There is no fee for submitting a permit application, and these permits can take up to 15 business days to process. This means it’s important to start early if you’re doing maintenance. These permit applications are available online at Grand Island’s city website, or at the Building Inspection Office in City Hall. If you’re ever in doubt whether you need a permit, contact us for guidance. We’re up to date on local regulations and are glad to answer your questions.