Contents (Click To Jump)
- 1 What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Newport News, VA?
- 2 How Does the Water in Newport News Affect Your Plumbing?
- 3 How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Newport News?
- 4 Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Newport News?
- 5 When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Newport News vs Hire a Plumber?
- 6 When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Newport News, VA?
What Are the Most Common Plumbing Issues in Newport News, VA?
Most of the plumbing issues in Newport News are typical of those found elsewhere. The climate is generally temperate, with warm summers and mild winters. It is sporadic for the temperature to drop such that pipes freezing become a genuine concern for Newport News homeowners. Average lows in January can get down to freezing, but seldom much below.
Newport News does have several historic neighborhoods which contain older houses. For example, Hilton Village was built as a planned development in 1918 through 1920 to house wartime shipyard workers. Many of these older homes have aging plumbing that can cause issues. The plumbing might include lead pipes both in the home and in the line to the street. Lead in drinking water is a genuine health concern, and if your home has lead pipes, then you should flush the pipes by running the water until the temperature drops, which prevents you from drinking water sitting in lead pipes. You should also consider getting a reverse osmosis filter, which can remove lead from your drinking water. If in doubt, you should have your water tested for lead. The city of Newport News will provide each customer with one free tap water lead test. Homes built after 1986 do not have lead pipes.
The humid summers in this part of Virginia can sometimes cause your water pipes to “sweat.” This happens when condensation collects on the outside of the pipe. Improved insulation can help stop this from happening and potentially causing water damage. If you have a sweating pipes issue, consider talking to a plumber to get some advice on how best to keep it from happening. Some sweating is typical in this kind of climate.
Clogged pipes are more common than in some places due to the hardness of the water.
How Does the Water in Newport News Affect Your Plumbing?
Because Newport News is so coastal, some of your water comes from a desalination plant that treats brackish groundwater using reverse osmosis. The desalination plant mixes treated groundwater with treated surface water. In theory, there should not be enough salt left in the water to affect your plumbing (or the taste of your water). However, desalinated water causes more corrosion, especially of steel pipes. Additionally, the ocean air itself can contain enough salt to cause issues for outdoor spigots and other outdoor pipes. The salt can cause pipe corrosion, leading to leaks, wasted water, and potentially expensive home damage. Saltwater can also get into your plumbing system, affecting the taste and odor of your water.
Water in Newport News is considered moderately hard at 4-6 grains or 70-120 mg/L. Hard water buildup can eventually clog your pipes, reduce water flow, and increase stress on your pipes and fixtures. Drinking hard water is not considered a health hazard, but it can affect soap and detergent performance. Treatment cannot manage water hardness, and while the water is hard, it is not as hard as it is in some places. (Most of the U.S. does have hard water).
How Much Does Plumbing Usually Cost in Newport News?
Typically, the cost to hire a plumber in Newport News is between $80 and $90 per hour, plus parts and materials. The rate is a reasonably average cost, neither at the high end nor the low end. More complex services will cost you more, especially if you are looking at pipe replacement or a remodel. The cost can be affected by several factors.
The scope of your project is a primary determiner of cost. Plumbers will give an estimate based on how long they think your work will take. The assessment might be more than you were expecting, as it’s not always obvious how complex a project is.
A simple faucet replacement, however, is not going to cost you very much. In some cases, we might discover after we do a deeper look and start work that the project scope is considerably larger or smaller than we initially thought, resulting in a change in your estimate. Prices, sadly, are more likely to go up than down. While we do our best to provide an accurate estimate, it’s entirely possible that we will find, for example, pipe corrosion that is better fixed now than later.
Emergency services, especially after hours, are going to cost more. If we need to get a plumber out to your house quickly at 1 am, you can expect to pay a premium.
In most cases, we will be able to do the basic emergency rate and then return later to fix the rest of the problem at a more affordable rate. We will, however, always come out, 24/7. Burst pipes, drastic drops in water pressure, and broken water heaters tend to happen at the least convenient time imaginable, after all.
Repairs to plumbing in older buildings tend to cost more. The plumbing itself is more likely to have hidden problems behind the walls, and we need to make sure that we put back things the way they should be. It’s worth noting that the Virginia Department of Historic Resources offers tax credits for repairs and rehabilitation of older buildings; these can be an effective way to help finance a significant project. It’s worth talking to their office if you own a historic building.
Newer properties tend to have more straightforward repairs.
Can Better Plumbing Save You Money in Newport News?
In the long run, better plumbing will always save you money. This is particularly the case if you have an older building, which can be cost-effective (especially with those tax credits) to rehabilitate your plumbing significantly. Removing lead pipes can improve the resale value of your home significantly. If you are not sure when the pipes were last replaced in your historic home, getting a plumbing inspection done is worth getting. An assessment can also help spot issues before they become problems.
Better plumbing also reduces your water bill. Leaks waste water and thus money, in addition to risking damage to your home. Suppose you don’t fix a leaky faucet. In that case, you can waste thousands of gallons of water a year. In an area where much of the water is brackish and water treatment is more expensive, not wasting water can provide significant financial benefits.
Conserving water also means that you should consider upgrading to water-saving fixtures and appliances. Installing a shower flow control can also save significant amounts of money without compromising your ability to stay clean.
You should constantly monitor your water meter and act if you notice you are using more water than usual. Higher water usage can indicate a leak somewhere inside your walls, which a plumber will be able to find. If you suspect something, then stop using water for two hours. If the meter moves at all, you have a leak somewhere.
When Should You Call the Water Utility Company in Newport News vs Hire a Plumber?
In general, you are responsible for any leaks that are on your side of the meter. If you suspect there is a leak in your line or the mainline, then it is time to call the City.
Additionally, Newport News has a water leak adjustment policy. If you have an exceptionally high bill due to a leak, then you can get up to 50% relief on charges above your 12-month average usage (for both water and sewage). However, you have to request this relief within 14 days, and you have to make reasonable efforts to locate a leak and initiate repairs. You can only request relief once every 36 months. Because of this, it’s essential to call a plumber right away. Calling the City for a leak that affects your water meter is a waste of time. Another issue in Newport News is that they may disconnect your water if you are “willfully” wasting water, including if you have a significant leak and don’t fix it within a reasonable amount of time.
You should call the City if your water pressure has dropped suddenly, especially if you are not the only person affected. You can call Newport News Waterworks, and they will tell you if they know of anything causing it or investigate further. Low water pressure often indicates a burst main somewhere that needs to be reported and fixed as soon as possible. If you see standing water in your yard or driveway, turn off all of your water valves, then check the meter. If the meter is still moving, the leak is on your side, and you need a plumber. If not, call the City. You may also need to contact the city if you call a plumber and can’t find the leak.
When Do You Need Permits for Plumbing Service in Newport News, VA?
In general, you need a permit for most plumbing work that is not a simple repair. If you are replacing pipes or entire fixtures, then you may need a permit. We can tell you if you need a permit or not and take care of it for you, but you will be responsible for the cost.
For significant projects, you will also need to get a plumbing inspection done, which will be performed by a city plumber. Again, we will be able to tell you when an assessment is needed.
Permits are generally not needed for basic pipe repairs, simple faucet replacements, etc. However, if in doubt, check with your plumber or the city on your specific project.