When it comes to the modern conveniences included in homes, water and sewer services top the list. Despite this, most homeowners don’t pay nearly enough attention to water pipes and sewer lines, either when they’re choosing houses or maintaining their homes — and that can lead to big water and sewer problems down the road. If you own a home, you can save yourself a lot of grief (and money on plumbing contractors’ bills) by asking yourself five questions before your pipe-related problems spiral out of control:
- How Old Are the Pipes?
If your pipes were installed soon after WWII, as most in the nation were, then they’re essentially a time bomb. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, show that water mains break after an average of 47 years.
- What Are the Pipes Made Of?
If your home was built prior to 1980, it’s very likely that your pipes are made of clay. The problem with clay pipes is that they’re prone to deterioration, meaning you’re likely to end up with cracks or full-blown ruptures.
- How’s the Surrounding Soil?
In estimating how close to failure you pipes might be, it helps to know more about the soil conditions in your area. Certain types of soil, such as clay soils, are very corrosive and can cause pipes to degrade very quickly. If you have loose, sandy soil in your area, however, your pipes will likely have a longer lifespan.
- What Are the Seasons Like?
If you live in an area with an annual freeze-thaw cycle, you’ll want to pay attention to your water lines both in the ground and in your home. Not only can pipes burst in freezing temperatures (since water expands when it freezes), but pipes become brittle and more prone to damage at 40 degrees and below.
- Are There Trees Near the Lines?
Tree roots are one of the major culprits when it comes to broken water and sewer lines, so you should watch out for any mature trees planted near lines or septic tanks. If you don’t have such trees removed, you could end up needing some major plumbing services at some point.
Do you have any tips to share on avoiding common problems with water and sewer services? Join the discussion in the comments.