Ways to avoid the most expensive plumbing repairs

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Major plumbing problems are generally rare, but—when they do happen—they can take a serious bite out of your household budget. Pipe leaks, slab leaks, sewer line repairs, and other projects can run in the thousands of dollars. Your priority, when possible, should be preventing these problems from happening or, at the very least, taking fast action and bringing in a professional when they do.

Pipe leaks

No matter what their origin is—deteriorating pipe material, a home shifting, improper installation, or damage from a kitchen or bathroom remodel—water leaks are bad news for your home. Water damage can destroy floors and harm your home’s foundation, structure, and walls. 

Left untreated, water damage presents an opportunity for mold growth behind walls, in basements, and in other places. The costs of repairing water damage can vary depending on the scope of this damage: at its worst, pipe leaks involve hidden leak detection, extensive pipe repair, structural repair, and mold remediation.

While not every leak is avoidable, there are some things you can do to protect your home. Many leaks originate from a frozen pipe that has burst open under the pressure. To prevent your pipes from freezing, keep your home’s furnace in proper condition and talk to your local plumber about insulating your pipes in exterior walls. While they’re at your home, ask about the overall condition of your pipes: if you own an older home, it might be time for whole-home repiping. Fixing individual leaks when the overall pipe integrity is failing might be akin to playing a game of whack-a-mole.

Sewer line cracks and clogs

Your home’s sewer line plays an irreplaceable role in your home, carrying wastewater away from your sinks, showers, and toilets to the municipal sewer. Buried under your front or side yard and connected to the street, your sewer line mostly works as intended. Problems with this line, however, can lead to disaster. Two of the most common issues sewer lines face are cracks and clogs.

Sewer line fractures

Over time, a sewer line might crack or fracture due to shifting earth surrounding it, intrusive tree roots reaching around it, or the line material deteriorating. These cracks start small, but can lead to big problems. First, any leak in the line will attract nearby tree roots thirsting for water and nutrients. These roots can quickly break into the line and start to obstruct it. Most homeowners first notice a sewer line leak when they see a perpetually wet spot of earth above the line or smell the problem in their front yard.

Sewer line clogs

We’ve already mentioned how sewer lines can clog due to tree root intrusion. However, far more sewer line clogs are accidentally caused by homeowners. Many kitchen staples are considered “high-risk” items for sewer lines: they have a tendency to adhere to the interior walls and start forming a clog. Infamously, this includes cooking grease, but cooking oil, eggshells, uncooked pasta and rice, coffee grounds, and flour can also be dangerous to the line. Never dispose of these in the kitchen sink: throw them in the trash bin instead.

As a sewer line starts to partially clog, you may notice your drains working more slowly than usual. When the clog completely restricts movement through the line, all of your drains will clog simultaneously. This is the final warning of an impending sewer backup. Immediately turn off the water supply and call a local, certified plumber.

Trenchless repair

If your home’s sewer line does need repairs, ask your local plumber about the potential for trenchless repairs. Apollo Drain specializes in this less intrusive and less expensive method of line replacement. 

Here’s how it works: the plumber either inserts the new line into the old one, or uses the old line to “guide” a new line—all without the need for any excavation or physical access to the line. Trenchless repairs are safer, easier, faster, and cheaper. These days, this makes them the preferred method for replacing a sewer line.

Other expensive plumbing repairs

Slab leaks, water heater replacement, and pipe scaling round out the list of the most pricey plumbing repairs. Here’s what these plumbing issues have in common: you need to act fast and call in a professional. No plumbing problem repairs itself. Never procrastinate when faced with an emergency. Be decisive and call a local plumber for emergency service. This will help limit the extent of the damage—and your repair costs.

Ready to learn even more about the plumbing projects described above? Be sure to check out this infographic below. It contains a detailed breakdown of the typical costs of pipe leaks, sewer line repair, and other projects.

pamphlet explaining most expensive plumbing problems

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