Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Alexandria?
- 2 How Does the Water in Alexandria Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Alexandria?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money In Alexandria?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Alexandria vs Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Alexandria?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Alexandria?
Alexandria is one of the most desirable, livable cities in the D.C. metro area, and this is partly because of our eclectic mix of neighborhoods. There’s the elegance of Old Town, the quirkiness of Del Ray, and everything in between. Alexandria residents have the typical plumbing issues that are common everywhere else, as well as extra headaches from living in a floodplain near the Potomac River. Some of the most common plumbing repairs that we tackle throughout Alexandria are:
Sump Pump Installation and Repairs
Like many other regions in Virginia, Alexandria deals with recurrent floods throughout the year. Around 20 percent of the city is mapped as a floodplain, including low-lying areas close to the Potomac River that get affected by overbank flooding. Many neighborhoods outside of these areas also deal with flash floods caused by tropical storms with intense rain that overwhelms the city’s stormwater systems. In short, sump pumps are indispensable for Alexandria homeowners that have below-ground foundations. These hardworking devices are the only thing that stands between your home and serious flood damage, but they can often malfunction or wear out. Once a sump pump is more than three to four years old, or if it’s already had to manage several serious floods, it may need some repairs.
You can help your pump last longer by cleaning it out once a year and making sure to remove any gravel or other debris that may have gotten stuck inside. We also recommend you contact us to inspect the sump pump annually to make sure it will be there for you when you need it the most.
If you notice that your water bill’s getting way too high, even with no major increase in the water usage in your household, you may be dealing with a leak. Another symptom of leaky pipes is having low water pressure, especially if it gets worse when you have more than one tap open throughout your home.
Older homes are much more likely to have this problem since pipe materials don’t last forever and need to be maintained. Corroded or aging pipes are common in Alexandria. They can waste an incredible amount of water, and it’s both taxing to the environment and your wallet. Depending on the scale of the problem, it’s possible to resolve the issues by replacing just those affected sections of piping. For those extreme cases where the system is practically a sieve, then it may be time for a complete pipe overhaul.
We get a lot of calls for slow-moving drains in kitchens and bathrooms or even drains that are completely blocked by an obstruction. Many clogs and slow drains in Alexandria are caused by the city’s hard water, which leaves mineral deposits inside the pipes, contributing to blockages. There are products that supposedly unclog your drains at the hardware, but they often don’t work well and can even cause damage to your pipes. Our professional plumbers have the tools and experience to restore the normal function of your drain safely and efficiently. If you’re dealing with this problem regularly, it’s a good idea to focus on prevention, such as by installing a hair catcher in your shower drain or a water softener.
How Does the Water in Alexandria Affect Your Plumbing?
Alexandria sources its water from both the Potomac River and the Occoquan Reservoir, which then gets treated by two state-of-the-art treatment plants. Residents get to enjoy excellent drinking water, but one of the downsides for your plumbing is that the city’s tap water is moderately hard, which means it naturally contains calcium and magnesium. Moderately hard water is better than extremely hard, but it’s still not ideal for the longevity of your pipes and plumbing appliances. These minerals can accumulate over time and then harden up as a substance called mineral scaling. Try to imagine a rock-hard coating inside your pipes or any appliances that handle water, and that’s essentially what can happen. You can also notice these minerals as a white film on your shower glass doors or clean water glasses.
Hard water is especially tough on water heaters, and it can cause them to malfunction or break down prematurely. This is why many Alexandria homeowners get a water softener installed as a measure to protect their plumbing and get better water quality overall. The water softener filters these minerals out before the water gets a chance to interact with the rest of your plumbing system. Ironically, water softeners are themselves very susceptible to getting damaged from mineral scaling over time and will sometimes need repairs.
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Alexandria?
There’s no “usual” when it comes to plumbing because projects can vary so much depending on the situation, but the average in Alexandria is around $460. Most jobs fall between $120 and $900. Here are some main things we’ll consider to give you an estimate:
Cost Factor: Complexity of the Issue
Straightforward problems like faucet repairs or clogged drains are something that we can handle in a jiffy, often in less than an hour. Installing a water heater costs more because it’s a much more technical and time-consuming job that requires specialized skills. Fixing a leak can vary quite a bit in terms of the price because it depends on how easily we can access your piping and how extensive the problem is. Overall, you can expect the cost of your project to reflect how much effort we’ll have to expend to resolve the situation.
Cost Factor: Emergency Services
The urgency of the problem can also have an impact on the cost of plumbing services, especially if it happens after our regular business hours. Some plumbing issues are emergencies, like sewage backups, burst pipes, or a sump pump that starts malfunctioning right in the middle of a flood. These issues are always going to cost more than scheduled maintenance services. Partly because they’re generally not an easy fix, and also because we have to make a special effort to send out our master plumbers as soon as possible.
Cost Factor: Materials
There are some cases where the cost of the materials we use for your project will have a major impact on the total bill. For example, copper pipes would be much more expensive than standard PVC pipes. If you’re replacing an entire system, then the cost difference would be pretty substantial. The square footage of the home will also affect the overall cost of the materials since there’s a big difference between plumbing for 1500 sq ft vs 5000 sq ft.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money In Alexandria?
Quality plumbing is like so many other things in life where you might pay a higher initial cost, but then end up saving money in the long run. If you’re dealing with recurrent problems, it’s better to fix the underlying issue for the long term than continue hiring our plumbers to make piecemeal repairs.
Better plumbing is also more efficient in terms of water and energy use, which means you can potentially see a reduction in your utility bills. This is especially true if you haven’t made any updates to your fixtures or appliances for a long time. The EPA’s WaterSense program has some great recommendations for products that can help you consume less, while still getting everything you need from your plumbing system. Replacing an older water heater or washing machine with an EnergyStar model is the kind of upgrade that can give you a major bang for your buck. These newer appliances are extremely efficient and likely to pay for themselves in the long run.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Alexandria vs Hire a Plumber?
In most cases, issues with plumbing in your home would require you to call our plumbers. Alexandria’s tap water is provided by Virginia American Water, which also handles all the maintenance for our municipal water lines. Homeowners are responsible for everything “on your side of the meter”, which is to say the plumbing system that only affects your home or apartment. Common issues like low water pressure or an unexplainable increase in your water bill are both often caused by a water leak somewhere within your pipe system. That means you would have to call our plumbers to help you investigate and fix the problem.
The scenarios where you would call Virginia American Company would have to do with issues within the city’s communal plumbing infrastructure. For example, if you completely lose water to your home then that’s very likely to be an outage caused by problems with a municipal water line in your area. Some of your neighbors would probably have the same problem, and you would need to call Virginia American Company so they can send a team to restore your service. You should also definitely alert the water utility company if you see a burst pipe in your street, which is something they will want to fix right away.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Alexandria?
All plumbing work in Alexandria, and throughout the state of Virginia, is subject to the Uniform Statewide Building Code. While you don’t need a permit for a superficial problem like a clogged drain, you do need to go through the permitting process for pretty much any major type of plumbing work. Any type of pipe replacement is definitely on the list, including changes to the hot and cold water supply, septic tank connections, or connections to the municipal water and sewer lines.
These regulations exist because all homes in Alexandria are connected to the same water distribution system. There’s a chance for some structural projects to have an impact on your neighbors or the city’s plumbing system. Permits are also about making sure all of this highly technical work is done by a Virginia licensed plumber with the skills and knowledge to do the job safely. At Mr Blue Plumbing, we always go over any of the permits required for your project and take care of that step before even getting started. Luckily, the plumbing permit is very simple, and we can apply online via APEX (Alexandria Permit & Land Use System).