Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Corvallis?
- 2 How Does the Water in Corvallis Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Corvallis?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Corvallis?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Corvallis vs Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Corvallis?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Corvallis?
Since houses started popping up here in the 1850s, our corner of the Willamette Valley has grown into a wonderful place that has ranked in the top 100 cities to live in and start a business in the United States. Corvallis has such a variety of housing, from 1940s bungalows near downtown and mid-century ranch homes around Griffith Park to more recent homes built closer to the outskirts of town, but any of them – especially the older homes with older piping – could experience plumbing issues at any time. Here are some of the most common plumbing issues we deal with.
Slow Drains and Clogs
Whether it’s a toilet that’s clogged or a bathtub that takes forever to empty, drains that don’t work properly can be anything from an annoyance to an omen of major problems to come. If your efforts with a plunger or household drain snake haven’t yielded results, calling in our plumbers may be a smart next step to take care of your plumbing issues before they become larger ones. Slow drains can be a more frequent problem in some of our older neighborhoods, such as College Hill West, where pipes have been around for longer, vulnerable to the accumulations of food, grease, hair, soaps, and shampoos that can build up in them.
Leaks and Dripping Faucets
Most homes have some sort of small plumbing issue, from a faucet that drips or a toilet that keeps running after you flush it, to a shutoff valve with a slow leak for an outside spigot, or a leak in the trap under your sink. Leaks like these in drain lines can expand over time and can result in major headaches. Such problems can be even worse in supply lines if a drip or leak turns into a steadier flow which can not only wastewater, but can grow into a catastrophic household water disaster. Taking care of leaks and drips promptly can help keep your home and its plumbing safe.
Water Heater Issues
Stepping into a relaxing shower can be a major disappointment if there’s no hot water. Problems with water heaters are another of our frequent service calls. Water heaters typically last only 10-15 years, especially if you don’t perform regular maintenance on them — and let’s face it, water heater care is pretty low on most household to-do lists, but pretty high on our plumbers’ frequent service list. Corvallis’s soft water can contribute to water heater problems.
How Does the Water in Corvallis Affect Your Plumbing?
Corvallis’s water comes from the Willamette River and the Rock Creek Watershed to our two water treatment plants before it makes its way through over 250 miles of pipes to reach homes and businesses across our city. Our water is usually considered to be good tasting and of high quality. One drawback can be that it is rated “soft”. Water hardness describes how much-dissolved calcium and magnesium are in the water. It is measured in grains per gallon (gpg), with ratings 3 gpg and under-considered soft, while 7 gpg and above is hard water. Our water averages between 2 and 3 gpg, making it decidedly soft.
Effects of Soft Water on Corvallis Plumbing
Many people enjoy the benefits of soft water — as witnessed by the countless homes which have installed water softeners in areas with naturally hard water. Luckily, with naturally soft water, we don’t need the added equipment or hassle to enjoy more moisturized skin, fewer spots on dishes, and less soap, shampoo, and detergent. Unfortunately, soft water’s main drawback is that this more acidic water can corrode pipes more quickly. That same chemical action can leach hazardous metals, such as lead, from pipes and the solder that connects them, potentially making your water toxic for children. While water supplied in Corvallis has never tested positive for lead, it may be present in the household side of the water meter in some fixtures and pipe solder. Lead wasn’t banned in pipes and connections until 1986, and with the average house in Corvallis having been built in 1980, there is plenty of housing stock that may have such pipes. If you suspect you may have water quality issues, contacting the water department or our master plumbers can set you on the path for testing and resolution.
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Corvallis?
Corvallis home prices are a little above average, and if you’re already paying these higher prices, you may be reluctant to arrange for plumbing service, especially if it’s not an emergency. You may be happy to know that average plumbing costs in Corvallis fall around $375 with jobs in the low end averaging about $150 while jobs in the high-end fall close to $600. Unfortunately, we can sometimes only speculate about what we’ll encounter when plumbing problems are hidden inside walls or underground. Multiple aspects of a plumbing job come into play when figuring the cost of work.
Cost Factor: Type and Extent of Work
Not surprisingly, small and less complicated jobs generally cost less than major repairs or renovations. While we generally know what we can expect when we come to your home on a service call, we also have the experience to know that we should expect the unexpected. What seems like a small leak may turn out to be a serious imminent failure, while what sounds like a blocked sewer main may, in reality, be a simple pipe clog.
Cost Factor: Materials and Supplies
When we do plumbing work at your home, we are responsible for ensuring the quality of our work to meet code requirements, safety guidelines, your expectations, and our own satisfaction. This can affect the types of materials we need to do a job properly. Logistics and supply issues can influence prices as well. For example, the cost of copper has fluctuated wildly over recent years, greatly affecting the price of one of our basic supplies, copper pipe. Your preferences about the work we do can also play a role in what you pay if your plumbing work involves selecting a replacement fixture or appliance.
Cost Factor: Permits and Other Expenses
Most plumbing work, outside of small repairs, requires a permit in Corvallis. That can add to the cost of your plumbing service. Emergency service outside of standard business hours can also affect prices, as well as the need for additional workers or specialized equipment to complete your work.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Corvallis?
Better plumbing can save you by reducing the amount of water you waste, as well as by conserving the water you intentionally use, lowering your water bill on both counts. Reliable, well-maintained plumbing can also save you by helping prevent major disasters which can be caused by plumbing failures, sending hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water into your home from broken pipes or fixtures. Here are several more specific ways to save with better plumbing.
Fix Leaks and Drips
The EPA estimates that the average home wastes about 10,000 gallons of water each year due to large drips and small leaks sending dollars right down the drain. While that may not sound like a lot, it is the equivalent of about 2 years worth of laundry or half a year of daily showers. Fixing these minor problems can result in savings on your water bill, and help the environment.
The Corvallis Public Works Department estimates the average resident uses nearly 70 gallons of water each day. Upgrading your home with more efficient fixtures and appliances can reduce that by over a third. The water department also offers free in-home audits to inspect your plumbing system and fixtures for efficiency, as well as a self-audit program if you prefer that option.
Of course, plumbing upgrades can save on your total water usage, but you can even save money when you make the upgrade. For example, the Corvallis water department offers one-time rebates for purchasing certain high-efficiency toilets.
You probably change your furnace filters and the oil in your car on a regular basis, but did you stop to think about doing the same types of tasks for your plumbing system? Many homeowners either aren’t aware that these are important tasks, or they fall to the bottom of the chores list. Some of the tasks you should consider to care for your plumbing include:
- Flush your water heater — Even with soft water, sediment can build up in hot water tanks, making the heating element work harder and burn out sooner.
- Check your water heater’s anode — The “sacrificial anode” is a metal rod designed to corrode in your water heater instead of the tank itself, helping prolong its life. Having our experts replace the anode regularly can delay water heater replacement substantially.
- Care for your pipes — Fix leaks, tend to slow drains and clogs promptly, and arrange for sewer line inspections on a regular basis to prevent bigger issues.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Corvallis vs Hire a Plumber?
Homeowners (and their plumbers) are responsible for water issues on their side of water meters and sewer mains, while the city is responsible for the other side. In general, if you and your neighbors have the same issue, it is likely on the city side, while problems isolated to just your home are probably on your side. If you suspect a problem on the city side, you can contact the Corvallis Public Works department for issues such as a water main break or sewer line backup.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Corvallis?
In order to help ensure the safety and reliability of plumbing systems in Corvallis homes, most plumbing work requires homeowners and plumbers to obtain a permit. This work includes “the construction, installation, alteration, or repair of any plumbing system or plumbing fixture associated with any building or structure”. While that sounds very broad, some plumbing work, considered to be minor repairs, can be exempted from permitting requirements. Some of this exempted work includes “repair, replacement or maintenance of existing and accessible fixtures, parts, appliances, appurtenances, related water supply, and drain attachments; or emergency repair or replacement of freeze-damaged or leaking concealed piping not exceeding 3 feet in length”. Deciding whether a permit is needed can be complicated, so you may want to contact our plumbers or the Corvallis Development Services department, so you can do things the right way.