Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Tulsa?
- 2 How Does the Water in Tulsa Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Tulsa?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Tulsa?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Tulsa vs Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Tulsa?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Tulsa?
Since Tulsa’s first water pumping station piped Salt Fork’s salty, gritty water into homes and businesses in 1904, Tulsa has worked to improve water quality and delivery. Today, our tap water in Tulsa comes from Lake Oologah, Lake Spavinaw, and Lake Hudson, and after treatment makes its way through over 2,200 miles of underground pipes to reach each faucet in Tulsa. Normally, most of us don’t give our water and plumbing a second thought, until there’s a problem, and some plumbing problems are more common for Tulsa homeowners.
Water Quality Issues
Tulsa’s water has been treated to be safe and uncontaminated, however, it occasionally can have a less appealing scent or taste. These are considered to be aesthetic issues and shouldn’t affect your use of tap water. If water has a musty odor, it is likely from phosphorus in the water which can develop in times of heavy runoff into our water supply, lakes from fertilized fields, or those near livestock housing, especially poultry farms. Water that has a reddish or orange color can be from rust that generally comes from older household pipes such as those in Swan Lake or Kendall-Whittier. Other sources are residential supply lines and rusting hot water heater tanks. Roadwork or heavy construction near water pipes can also loosen rust in pipes, causing discolored water.
When winter storms blow through the area, many household pipes are vulnerable to freezing. As water freezes in pipes, it expands and can cause them to burst. This can also happen as pipes start to thaw when the pressure of water trying to flow through finds the pipe, or a pipe joint, easier to force its way through than the remaining ice. When freezing, rain and ice storms hit Tulsa and knock the power out, if you don’t have a backup generator to keep your home warm enough, you can also create the perfect conditions for your pipes to freeze.
While homeowners across the country frequently have water heater complaints, they can be a more common issue in parts of Tulsa than in some other locations. The problem is harder water, which in Tulsa, is found in the water supplied by the A.B. Jewell treatment plant. Harder water can cause sediment to build up more quickly in water heater tanks, forcing the heating element to work harder and causing tanks to fail prematurely.
Slow Drains and Clogs
Bathtubs that take forever to empty or toilets that require frequent plunging are some of our most common service calls. Occasional slow drains or clogs can be caused by something going down the drain which shouldn’t have, such as when kids experiment to see what’s flushable. If slow drains are more frequent, you likely either have some buildup in your pipes from Jersey City’s hard water, or a sewer line blockage. Both situations need to be attended to sooner rather than later to prevent more serious (and expensive) damage.
Leaks and Dripping Faucets
Dripping faucets and leaky pipe connections can be an annoyance. Even worse, they can easily turn into larger problems, sending water flowing and causing damage to your home and belongings. Jersey City’s hard water can quickly damage faucets, gaskets, and aerators, making this issue more prevalent in the area than throughout surrounding cities.
How Does the Water in Tulsa Affect Your Plumbing?
In general, Tulsa’s water shouldn’t cause major plumbing problems, but this can depend a little bit on what part of Tulsa you live in. If you live in the south or east Tulsa, your water probably comes from the A.B. Jewell Treatment Plant (supplied by Lake Oologah), while homes in north and west Tulsa generally receive water from the Mohawk plant (supplied by Lakes Spavinaw and Hudson). The main difference between water from the two plants is in its “hardness”. The harder the water is, the more it can cause mineral buildup in your pipes and fixtures, showerheads, and faucet aerators. It can also increase sediment in your water heater and cause spots on your dishes and glassware. On the positive side, hard water is less likely to leach metals like lead from your pipes, causes less corrosion, and can help your water heater’s sacrificial anode last longer.
Water Hardness in Tulsa
When water is described as “hard” or “soft”, it is actually a reflection of the volume of dissolved minerals (generally calcium and magnesium) in the water. Hardness is often measured in grains per gallon (gpg), with ratings 3 and below considered soft, and 7 and above considered hard. Around Tulsa, with soil rich in limestone and gypsum, our water tends to lean in the harder direction. Water from the A.B. Jewell plant averages the hardest in the area, around 8.2 gpg, while water from the Mohawk plant averages a softer, 5.2 gpg.
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Tulsa?
Homeowners frequently delay plumbing service, especially for issues that are annoying but not emergencies, such as slow drains or dripping faucets, fearing it will be too expensive. If you fall into that group, you may be pleased to know that the average cost for our plumbing services in Tulsa ranges from about $175 to around $625 with the average job costing about $400. In some cases, you may even be able to get a grant or loan from the City of Tulsa to help with emergency plumbing costs, depending on your income level. Of course, pipes and connections are tucked away inside walls and under slabs, making a lot of plumbing unknowns. That, and some other aspects of plumbing work can influence how much your service or repair may cost.
Cost Factor: Type and Scope of Work
As you would expect, smaller, more straightforward plumbing repairs, such as replacing a faucet or unclogging a toilet, are generally much less expensive than complicated work like replacing a bathtub with a shower unit or excavating for a slab leak. Sometimes, what seems like a simple repair turns out to be a more complicated issue requiring additional work and materials, so it’s rarely a cut and dry situation.
Cost Factor: Materials and Supplies
Between logistical issues, supply availability, and shipping interruptions and delays, the prices of many common plumbing supplies and materials can vary widely. For example, the price of copper has fluctuated dramatically in recent years, greatly affecting the cost of pipes and connections needed to install, repair, or replace the plumbing in your home. In addition, your preferences about some plumbing materials, such as size, style, or specific model of toilet, faucet, water heater, or other fixture can certainly influence your costs.
Cost Factor: Permits, Inspections, and Other Expenses
Because the City of Tulsa requires permits and inspection for the majority of plumbing work, those expenses will add to the overall cost of plumbing work. If your plumbing work requires additional labor hours or a larger crew, that can also affect prices, as can emergency service outside of regular business hours.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Tulsa?
Taking care of your plumbing is like taking care of your car or anything else that requires regular care and maintenance, the better you keep up with it, the more efficiently and longer it should work. Some ways you and our plumber can work together to save with improved plumbing include:
Fixing Leaks and Drips
More than an annoyance, small drips and leaks can add up over time and literally send your money down the drain. In fact, the EPA estimates the average US household wastes up to 10,000 gallons of water each year with these minor problems. That can be up to 2 years’ worth of laundry or a shocking 3,000 loads in the dishwasher! In addition, if small leaks expand, they can result in major water damage that can run into the tens of thousands of dollars to repair.
Clearing Drains and Pipes
Slow drains and clogged pipes are usually a sign of bigger problems — or bigger problems soon to come. Instead of adding caustic chemicals, arranging for our plumber to clear the lines with professional equipment can ensure free-flowing water for years to come.
Replacing older appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines can cut your water usage (and your bill) in half or more. Changing out your old showerheads and faucet aerators for low-flow versions can give you the same great service with lower usage.
Adding just a few regular plumbing maintenance tasks to your to-do list can result in some worthwhile savings. Some you might add to your routine include:
- Flush your water heater — This removes sediment, helping it last longer and heat more efficiently.
- Check your water heater’s sacrificial anode — This metal rod “sacrifices” itself by rusting instead of the tank itself, and it should be replaced on a regular basis to protect the tank.
- Sewer line checks — Arranging for regular examinations of your sewer lines with our experts — who use a special camera on a flexible line — allows your pipes to be inspected for cracks, breaks, and blockages, so they can be taken care of while small and manageable.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Tulsa vs Hire a Plumber?
Most of the time, when people have water problems, they call us instead of the water company, and that’s usually the right choice. There are some cases where contacting the Tulsa Water and Sewer Department should instead be your first choice. The trick is to try and figure out whether your water problem is your responsibility or the city’s. In general, if you and your nearby neighbors are having the same problem, it is likely to be on the city side of things, and you should contact them. If the problem is limited to your home, it is likely on your side of the water meter or sewer main, and our plumbers are a better bet. You can also check current water main breaks to see if there are any known water problems near your home.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Tulsa?
Most plumbing work in Tulsa requires a permit and must be performed by a licensed plumber like Mr. Blue Plumbing and inspected by the City of Tulsa except for basic repairs. Specifically, permits are required except that a homeowner may “perform water supply and drainage plumbing work only, on the homeowner-occupied residence and property, provided all permits required pursuant to this code are obtained, without requiring the homeowner to possess a plumbing license.” This can be a complicated determination, so contacting either the permitting office or our plumbing experts can help you figure it out.