Hot Summer Days Can Lead to Plumbing Disasters

If spring is a time of growth, then summer is the time life expresses itself to the fullest. Trees spread their foliage and their roots reach further through the soil, people spend more time outside socializing or on shaded patios around the barbecue grill. Pools are filled, bugs are repelled, and sprinkler systems bloom across lawns and landscapes. In fact, residential water use, even in the conservation-conscious Bay Area, doubles from June through September.

Few homeowners realize how much additional impact summer months can have on a plumbing system. Being aware of your plumbing “summer stress points” can give you a good idea of a good inspection and maintenance plan that avoids plumbing disasters.

Broken pipes

Our current weather pattern in the Bay Area seems to be rainy winters and dry summers with record-breaking heatwaves. When the months turn dry and water conservation is highest, the soil dries out and becomes much looser. Loose soil gives ground pipes more room to shift in response to tremors, passing trucks and landscaping changes. Older pipes with weak joints or corrosion can actually burst when flexed too far. Irrigation hoses can cause unseen underground erosion that can collapse the soil supporting ground pipes.

Broken pipes can also occur due to the additional stress put on your plumbing system in the hot weather. Sprinklers, swimming pools, garden hoses, patio misting hoses and water features all put more pressure on your pipes. Pipes that have been in the ground for twenty or thirty years can develop corrosion, often from the inside. When a sewer line clogs, forcing the clog through with air pressure or snaking, weak areas can burst collapsing landscaping and allowing toxic sewage to spread in your yard and further.

Tree root invasion

Tree roots are constantly seeking water and nutrients to sustain their growth. Amazing “conversations” go on underground between tree roots and microorganisms as they exchange micronutrients. Incredible as it may sound, this is the primary way roots find sewer pipes and wind their way into cracks in the pipe. Sewer line tree root invasion is far more common in the summer, when the land dries. Add to this the fact that the sometimes intense heat of the summer accelerates pipe corrosion and cracking and you can see why more sewer lines break in the summer than any other time of the year in the Bay Area.

Garbage disposal repair

Summer is the time for barbecues and all sorts of outdoor parties. These get togethers may have more guests than parties held during the cold and rainy holiday months. More guests using your bathrooms and kitchen puts stress on your plumbing system.

Guests helping to clean off the tables may scrape too much or the wrong things into your disposal. Corn, bones, pasta, watermelon rinds, fibrous vegetables, etc. The word “garbage disposal” misleads many people into thinking food scraps can just be dumped down the drain instead of the garbage can. Nothing could be further from the truth.

And then you get problems:

· Disposal is clogged or jammed. This may be a clog in the unit itself or in the drain line just past the disposal. If it is a jam, something is stuck and will have to be removed. Follow the instructions that came with your unit.

· Disposal is smelly and odor lingers. Your disposal has collected sludgy food and/or grease and needs to be flushed out with ice and rock salt or baking soda and vinegar. The simplest solution may work to eliminate the smell: dump chopped up bits of lemon down the disposal and turn it on while adding water. If you notice sink water draining into the dishwasher, we have some tips for you.

· A clog further down the line.

Toilet clogs

Summer brings guests to your bathrooms who may increase the pressure on your water waste line with disposable baby wipes, paper towels, or other products. Some of these clog-inducing materials may wind up blocking the sewer line outside your house, making a call to your plumber necessary.

Leaking washer

Hot sweaty weather, trips to the pool or beach and a general increase in outdoor activity all contribute to washing machine use that is double the use in the winter. More towels and sheets and bathing suits are thrown into the wash and with them, sand.

Sand can jam filter screens and pump motors as well as contributing to hose connection leaks. But just the increase in traffic through your washer can wear out pipe connections and cause cumulative clogs in the drainpipe from sand, lint, soap and all those items left forgotten in pockets.

Irrigation system issues

Summer is primetime for sprinklers. Each sprinkler head needs to be inspected to ensure it is working correctly. The autotimer may need to be adjusted and care must be taken when mowing the lawn or walking on the landscape that the sprinkler heads are protected. They are easy to damage when impacted.

Is your plumbing ready for the summer?

We’ve had a long and wet winter which included many storms and wind gusts. Summer is the best time for a comprehensive inspection of your plumbing system. No one wants a plumbing disaster during a party or a family gathering – you’d be surprised how often it occurs! We recommend calling Benjamin Franklin plumbing prior to an important party at your home to ensure your plumbing system is in good working order. We are trusted professionals who know your neighborhood and the issues other houses like yours have had.

Our inspection is thorough. Just a short list of what we check:

· Leak detection throughout the house

· Condition of pipes

· Faucets and fixtures and their plumbing throughout the house

· Hot water heater

· Sprinkler system

· Pool plumbing and any water feature plumbing

· Check that the main water shut off valve is working (can be turned) and clearly label it so you can find it

· Check for clogs in the drain line

· Inspect dishwasher, garbage disposal and under kitchen sink plumbing

· Inspect the ground above the sewer line in the front yard for any tell-tale sinkholes or sewage odor.

Our entire Benjamin Franklin Plumbing team of professionals is committed to your community and we have many rave testimonials pointing out our effectiveness, promptness and economy. Summer has begun. Let the good times roll. Give us a call.