Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Columbia?
- 2 How Does the Water in Columbia Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Columbia?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Columbia?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Columbia Vs Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Columbia?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Columbia?
For the most part, houses in Columbia, SC have the same issues as in other buildings. One thing to consider is the age of your home. In historic neighborhoods such as Shandon, Old Shandon, Forest Acres, and Heathwood, there are a lot of older homes. These houses may have older plumbing that is prone to issues because of their age. Additionally, many of these homes have lead pipes. Lead is toxic to developing children, and lead exposure can cause speech delays and other issues.
In some neighborhoods, lead piping is also present under the street, and you might want to get your water tested for lead. If lead is present, you should use a reverse osmosis filter to protect yourself. The City of Columbia provides free lead testing. If only the pipes in your home are lead, then you should flush your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (or until the temperature of the water changes) before using it for drinking or cooking.
While winters are generally mild in Columbia, there are the occasional frosty nights, usually only one or two a year. Frost can cause pipes to freeze and other damage; running a slight trickle of water can help with this.
How Does the Water in Columbia Affect Your Plumbing?
Columbia specifically has an issue with acidic water. This aggravates the issue with lead piping in older areas. The acidic water causes increased corrosion, leaching lead from pipes, plumbing fixtures, and solder. Acidic water and copper pipes can cause green stains on your bathroom sinks and other surfaces, as well as on your laundry. In extreme cases, your water might take on a blue-green tint. A water neutralizer can help reduce the issues caused by acidic water as well as improving the taste of your water.
Acidic water can also shorten the lifespan of your pipes and fixtures, increasing the risk of leaks. If having a plumbing repair done, talk to us about the best materials to use to resist the acid in the water and about acid neutralization systems that can help protect you and your plumbing from the acidic water.
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Columbia?
Plumbing in Columbia, SC generally costs $60 to $65 an hour for standard work, but it might go up to $95 for more complicated projects. The average total cost is around $450. Concerns about costs often get people to delay projects, but in general, the sooner you call our plumbers, the better. Leaving things alone can turn a simple repair into a major project, as well as risking your health and further damage to your home.
There are a few factors that affect the cost of plumbing services:
Cost Factor: Scope of Service
The biggest factor is, of course, the amount of work that needs to be done. For example, our plumbers won’t charge you much at all for snaking a toilet or replacing a faucet. These might be tasks you could attempt yourself if you are particularly handy.
On the other hand, you might be facing a more major issue. You might have a leak that takes considerably longer to locate than it does to fix, for example, and it can be hard to predict how much such a hunt will cost. Or, worse, you might have sewage backing up into your basement. This can result in an extremely expensive repair.
We will generally give a quote based on our estimate. If you need emergency, after-hours service then it will obviously cost more; another reason not to put off repairs until they become a real problem.
Cost Factor: Materials and Supplies
The base cost for plumbing services reflects labor. The cost of materials and supplies can impact things significantly, and can sometimes be hard to predict. We might, for example, give a quote and then see the price of a certain type of pipe go up before we can purchase the amounts needed for your work. Supply chains can be affected by weather and other conditions. Thankfully, Columbia is generally far enough inland not to be particularly affected by tropical storms directly, but a hurricane can impact supply both by making it harder to get stuff and by increasing demand for materials closer to the coast.
Material and supply costs can also be affected by the need to build things to handle Columbia’s highly acidic water.
Cost Factor: Additional Expenses
In addition to permits, which will be discussed later, there are often unexpected expenses with a plumbing project. For example, something may take longer than planned, resulting in increased labor issues.
It’s sadly common for our plumbers to discover that a project has a larger scope than was expected. For example, we may discover while getting to a corroded pipe to replace it that the corrosion spreads further than we thought. We might also find water damage, which can sometimes result in needing to bring in another contractor. These unexpected expenses can result in things going past the initial quote.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Columbia?
Better plumbing can indeed save you money. This is particularly the case if you live in an old building with old plumbing. Upgrading those old pipes can reduce your water bill by taking care of minor leaks that you might not know about but which were, nonetheless, costing you water.
The most important reason to replace lead pipes or install filters is to protect your children. However, removing lead plumbing can also increase the resale value of your home. In South Carolina, sellers are required to disclose certain aspects of the condition of a home to a purchaser, and while lead pipes are not specifically mentioned, “lead hazards” are. This almost certainly means that when you sell your home, you are legally obligated to tell a prospective purchaser about the lead pipes.
The purchaser might then walk away or use this to negotiate a lower price. Thus, removing the lead plumbing can increase resale speed and value.
Another way to lower your water bill is to install improved and updated fixtures. These days, it’s possible to find new fixtures that will fit in perfectly with older decorating schemes. Faucet aerators and water-conserving shower heads can help reduce your water bill significantly and will eventually pay for themselves over time. Modern showerheads will also give you a better experience. Also, while South Carolina has plenty of water, droughts are not unknown. Talk to us about WaterSense-approved plumbing fixtures and landscape irrigation products.
Getting your plumbing inspected regularly is another way to save money. As already mentioned, a minor problem can easily become a major one if it is left untouched and unattended.
Regular inspections are an inexpensive way to detect problems before they become expensive issues, and are particularly important if you have older plumbing that might be approaching the end of its working life.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Columbia Vs Hire a Plumber?
The majority of the time, you should hire our plumbers. Obviously, there are situations when it is clearly necessary to call the utility company, such as if you see a water main issue on your street or elsewhere.
Here are some things to consider:
Water Leaks Near Your Property
Maintenance on your water mains and service lines up to and including your water meter is the responsibility of the City of Columbia. If there is a leak in the line to your home past the water meter, then it is their responsibility. Sewer lines are maintained up to the property line.
In some cases, you might hire our plumbers, and they may discover that the problem is further down in the line. Or, they might search and search for the leak and not find it, meaning that the leak is probably in the line somewhere.
Basically, if you see something like water seeping up through the ground, then it might be time to call them. If you have a steadily increasing bill, then one trick is to turn off your main valve. If the water meter continues to run, you need our services. If it doesn’t, then you need to call the water company.
Water Pressure Issues
If your water pressure drops precipitously, this often means there has been a main break upstream. Definitely call the utility company, although you might want to ask your neighbors first; this can help work out where the problem is.
If none of your neighbors have a problem, then it might be your end, and at that point, you should call our professionals. Most likely you have a clogged or corroded pipe or a leak that you aren’t aware of.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Columbia?
Most plumbing work in the City of Columbia requires a Building Trade Permit. Anything other than a very simple repair is going to need a permit, and that permit has to be fairly detailed. There is an extra cost if you live in a designated flood plain, due to the higher risk of a leak causing problems for others. You will probably need a permit if you are installing new pipes, installing a new toilet, tub, or sink, replacing a garbage disposal, etc.
Additionally, if you live in a Historic or Design District, you may need a Certificate of Design Approval. This is generally not a huge issue with plumbing projects, as they don’t change the appearance of the building, but it can be an extra cost to consider.
The cost of permits is always passed to the customers, but we will make sure that all of the permits you need are in place. Again, you don’t need a permit to replace a faucet or for emergency repairs, but if you are remodeling a bathroom, you are going to need a permit.
Working out whether your project needs a permit and what permits to obtain is complicated, but our professional plumbers will know exactly how to handle it.