Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Abilene?
- 2 How Does the Water in Abilene Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Abilene?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Abilene?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Abilene vs. Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Abilene?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Abilene?
Since its founding in 1881, Abilene has been a cattle town, an army town, and an air force town. Recent decades have brought a revitalized downtown and countless businesses and industries, turning this once-sleepy cow town into the hub of The Big Country. The tremendous growth of recent decades has brought a lot of new people here, and the construction boom to house them and their families. Unfortunately, every home, from the older houses of Original Town North to newer properties such as those in Chimney Rock and around Kirby Lake, can have plumbing issues. Some of the service calls we most frequently make include:
Leaks & Dripping Faucets
Toilets that keep running, faucets that have a slow drip, or a slow leak in a pipe connection are all very common reasons we’re called out on a job. In Abilene, these issues are commonly caused by mineral deposits from the very hard water in the area, which corrode gaskets and o-rings and limit the lifespan of your fixtures and equipment. We’re always happy to fix these minor issues, though, because we know how quickly a small plumbing problem can turn into a big disaster, potentially causing distressing, expensive damage.
Slow Drains & Clogs
Perhaps even more frequently, we are called out to resolve a slow drain or a clogged toilet. Most homeowners try to fix slow drains and clogs on their own with plungers, caustic chemicals, and household drain snakes. For the occasional clog, that’s fine, but if you find yourself with slow drains on a regular basis, it’s probably time to give our plumbers a call. Repeated issues are often signs of a bigger problem further down in your pipes such as a larger clog in your sewer line or a blockage caused by invading tree roots–problems the average homeowner is unequipped to repair. One of the most common causes of these problems in Abilene is the city’s hard water. Mineral deposits inside your pipes can reduce flow through them and catch hair and other debris more easily.
Water Heater Issues
Problems with water heaters are another reason we often receive a call for service. Traditional water heaters only have an average working life of about ten to fifteen years, meaning most homeowners will need to replace one at some point. The majority of water heater problems are caused either by sediment buildup from Abilene’s very hard water or anode failure. Sediment builds up in the bottom of the tank, particularly with our harder water, forcing the heating element to work harder (costing you more), and making your water heater fail sooner. The anode is a rod of metal in the top of your tank, typically made of zinc, magnesium, or aluminum, that corrodes instead of the tank itself corroding, helping your water heater last longer. Flushing the tank to remove sediment and replacing the anode when needed are maintenance tasks that can extend its life. Despite those efforts, though, we usually need to replace rather than repair hot water heaters.
How Does the Water in Abilene Affect Your Plumbing?
Abilene’s water supply is made up of surface water that comes from multiple locations:
- Lake Fort Phantom Hill in North Abilene
- Hubbard Creek Lake between Albany and Breckenridge
- Lake O.H. Ivie near Ballinger
- Lake Abilene (water held in reserve)
- Lake Kirby in South Abilene, reserved for landscape irrigation
After treatment, our water is of high quality, and quite safe for drinking, bathing, cooking, and other purposes. The main drawback of our water, which you’ll likely have noticed if you’ve been in West Texas any length of time, is that we tend to have very hard water.
About Hard Water in Abilene
Water hardness is actually a measure of how much dissolved calcium and magnesium water contains. These are safe chemicals, but the more mineral content your water has, the harder it will be. Those measurements are usually given in grains per gallon (gpg) with ratings 3 gpg and under indicating soft water, and 7 gpg and higher meaning hard water. Measuring on average just under 16 gpg, our Abilene water is extremely hard. For regular, everyday use, this means you probably get spots on your glasses and dishes, and you need to use a little more soap, shampoo, and detergent to achieve the same amount of suds when washing things. For the longer term, harder water can cause mineral buildup in your pipes and fixtures such as showerheads, faucet aerators, and inside appliances like washing machines and dishwashers, shortening their lifespans. On the plus side, harder water is much less able to absorb lead and other toxic substances that may be part of your pipes or connections between them.
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Abilene?
We often encounter plumbing jobs made more complicated and expensive because homeowners have delayed having work done, fearing it will be too expensive. You may be surprised to know that the average plumbing job in Abilene runs from about $100 to $650, with a mid-range job being only about $375. Of course, one of the challenging aspects of plumbing work is that so many of the things we need to work on are hidden inside your walls or under the ground, making it extremely hard to offer an accurate estimate until we investigate your plumbing issues in person. There are some factors, though, that apply to many plumbing situations, affecting the cost of the work, including:
Cost Factor: Type & Scope of Work
Whenever we do small plumbing jobs, such as a simple toilet clog or dripping faucet, the charges are almost always small, too, since they require only a little time and minimal supplies. As you’d expect, larger jobs normally bring with them larger costs. One of the very good and sometimes disappointing facts about plumbing is that initial appearances can be deceiving. We may come to your home expecting to quickly fix a slow sink drain, only to discover that there’s a blockage in your sewer line, requiring excavation (and substantially more cost). Sometimes, though, the surprise is a good one, such as when we come out expecting a problem in your water supply line and finding it’s only a faulty valve.
Cost Factor: Materials & Supplies
Naturally, we want to do the best possible plumbing work for you, which means we need to use the materials and supplies that best work with your existing plumbing. Prices for necessary materials are often out of our control. For example, copper pipes are one of our most frequently used supplies, but prices for copper have bounced up and down in recent years, making it nearly impossible to predict prices for pipes. Logistics and supply chain issues can also affect the availability and cost of supplies we need. In addition, your preferences about the style, model, and features of the fixtures we use can also have a direct effect on your costs.
Cost Factor: Permits & Other Expenses
Because permits are required for a lot of the plumbing work we routinely do, those costs are part of your total expense. Sometimes the nature of a job will require specialized equipment or more of our workers, which can also add to the price. While we are always ready to come out and get your plumbing running smoothly, it may cost a little more if we need to work outside of normal business hours or on holidays.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Abilene?
Paying for home improvements when things don’t really seem broken can feel a little bit like wasted money. Trust us, if it comes to your plumbing, improvements are not wasted money. Though some plumbing maintenance and upgrades may cost you a little upfront, they will pay you back in money saved and problems prevented. Here are some of our suggestions for improving your plumbing system on your own or with a little help from a plumber:
Fix Small Issues… Before They’re Big Problems
A dripping faucet may not be at the top of your fix-it list, but it should be if you’re looking to save money. The average US household wastes about 10,000 gallons of water each year, sending money and enough water for about a thousand loads in the dishwasher right down the drain. Repairs are often as simple as a new washer or o-ring. Small leaks may require our professional help to fix, but those small leaks can easily turn into large breaks which can send thousands of gallons of water rushing into your home, causing major damage, so repairs–while they’re inexpensive and easy–are well worth it.
Upgrade Fixtures & Appliances
Replacing your old dishwasher, washing machine, toilet, shower head, or sprinkler system with more efficient models can save you a tremendous amount on your water bill, and help conserve precious water. The government’s WaterSense program lists the most efficient, reliable models available.
Do Regular Plumbing Maintenance
Just like changing the oil in your car, a little regular plumbing maintenance can keep it running smoothly. We suggest doing the below:
- Flush your water heater regularly to remove sediment buildup.
- Contact us to take care of small leaks and clogs promptly.
- Watch your bill for unexpectedly high usage—that can be a sign of a hidden leak.
- Have your sewer line inspected by our team on a regular basis to catch cracks and root incursions.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Abilene vs. Hire a Plumber?
If you’re facing a major water problem, be assured that we are always happy to hear from you and will do our best to fix your plumbing issues. Sometimes, it becomes clear when we first talk to you that the problem may be better addressed by the Abilene Water Department, and we can work with you to make that decision and contact the utility if needed. As a rule of thumb, though, if you and your neighbors are experiencing the same water issue, it is probably on the city side, and you will likely need to contact them. You can call them during regular hours at (325) 676-6419 or emergency, after-hours reporting at (325) 676-6000. If you find that a problem is isolated to your house, give us a call, as the problem is likely on your side of the water meter or sewer connection.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Abilene?
It can feel like a hassle to get a permit for plumbing or other work being done in your home, but they are an important part of helping to make sure installations and repairs are done in a reliable and consistent manner to protect everyone’s safety. In Abilene, we will need to get a plumbing permit to do any substantial work for you. That generally includes installing or replacing pipes or fixtures, such as water heaters and sprinkler systems. According to the city’s ordinances, that means plumbing work involving: