How to Choose the Right Piping for a Repair or Replacement

copper pipes

Most of the time, homeowners don’t worry about their piping as long as it reliably delivers water to the places they need it most, like the shower, sink and toilet. Some even ignore the first signs of plumbing trouble because the problem doesn’t seem serious enough to warrant an intervention.

What many don’t realize is that even tiny leaks, especially if they occur one after the other, indicate a full piping replacement might be in order. Replacement might also be worthwhile if you are concerned about lead from old pipes contaminating your family’s water or simply wish to update your system with a newer, sturdier material.

The following are surefire signs you need a plumber to come evaluate your pipes:

  • Decreased water pressure
  • Damp walls or floors after water usage
  • Mold growth
  • Noises like dripping, gurgling or knocking
  • Discolored or rusty water
  • Slow draining even after using drain cleaner

You should consult with your plumber to decide which pipes will work best for your situation. Here are some of the differences between the most common types of pipe materials.

Copper

There is a good chance your pipes are made of copper, as this has been the standard metal pipe in homes since the 1960s. There are multiple reasons for its popularity, including its durability, resistance to rust and ability to handle both hot and cold water. Copper is durable enough to withstand sunlight, the elements and even high heat like during a house fire. These pipes are safe enough to transport drinking water, as they are lead-free and bacteria-resistant.

Despite the many positives that make copper a go-to choice, there are a few significant drawbacks:

  • The cost – As a valuable metal, copper is relatively expensive at $285 per 100 feet of pipe. Its high valuation also makes copper piping a target for thieves.
  • The installation process – Compared to the lightweight nature of all plastic pipes and the malleable flexibility of PEX pipes, copper pipe installation can be slower and require more demolition.
  • Inability to handle acidic water – If your water supply is particularly acidic, your copper pipes may corrode.

Galvanized Steel

Another viable metal option is galvanized steel. “Galvanized” refers to a process where pipes are coated in zinc in order to prevent corrosion of the pipe. Unfortunately, galvanized steel pipes don’t withstand corrosion forever and may still experience rust buildup and blockages over time.

If you have an older house constructed between 1930 and 1990, it is very possible you have galvanized steel pipes. You should consider replacing them because corrosion can lead to water discoloration or contamination. Galvanized steel may still be appropriate for use when repairing pipes that are already made of the same material.

Nowadays, new galvanized steel pipes have fallen out of popularity in homes and are typically reserved for heavy duty applications, like outdoor and underground plumbing or water line replacement. They are cheaper than copper and can last upwards of 100 years!

Polyethylene/PEX

Polyethylene, or PEX, pipes are a cutting-edge technology in the plumbing world. Made of flexible plastic, these pipes can easily cut around corners and snake through walls, meaning installation takes less time, demolition and labor. PEX also has many other qualities that make it perfect for indoor plumbing:

Cheap cost – PEX piping is currently over nine times cheaper than copper, costing only $30 per 100 feet.

  • Versatility – PEX pipes pair well with many kinds of pre-existing pipes, making them great for repairs and retrofits.
  • Insulation – PEX pipes don’t lose heat quickly and are fairly resistant to freezing and bursting.
  • Color coding – Unlike metal pipes, PEX pipes can be color coded, indicating the temperature of the water that flows through them.

Because these pipes have only recently become popular in the US, we don’t yet know how they will hold up over decades of use or if there are any ill effects of consuming water from aging PEX piping. However, they have met rigorous safety guidelines and are increasingly a plumbing industry favorite.

PVC

Another type of popular and cost-effective plastic piping is PVC pipe. Besides its multitude of DIY uses, PVC pipes are extremely popular for use in homes, pools and irrigation systems. Because they’re plastic, they do not corrode and don’t require soldering or drawn-out installations. They also handle high water pressure well.

The largest drawback of PVC pipes is that, unlike PEX, they are not particularly temperature resistant. High temperatures will cause the pipe to warp, meaning there could be severe pipe damage over time. Thus, they are generally used for drain lines, vent stacks and water supply lines.

An alternative form called CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) piping is sometimes used instead, as it can handle all water temperatures while ensuring the water remains safe for consumption.

Repair or Replace Your Pipes with South West Plumbing

No matter which kind of pipes you have in your home, South West Plumbing can assist you with any and all repairs or replacements. We have been in the business for more than 35 years and we are the largest plumbing company in the local King, Snohomish and Pierce County area. There’s a good reason more than 15,000 of your local neighbors have trusted us with their home’s pipes this past year alone. Our plumbers are state certified and available 24/7, providing high quality service no matter when you need it. Give us a call at 206-932-1777 today to schedule your service appointment.

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When to Call a Professional Plumber

Some issues are too dangerous or complicated to tackle alone. South West Plumbing is the 1st to call for the following tasks for your safety and the integrity of your home:

  • Installation of new pipes, sinks or tubs
  • Water heater problems
  • New construction that requires building permits
  • Septic tank leaks
  • Sewer line breaks or leaks

Read more from this article here.

Tips for Conserving Water in Your Home

water conservation

We’ve all heard about how certain regions are dealing with droughts and even enforcing strict local water conservation laws in some cases. Even if you aren’t required by law, adopting a few water conservation strategies is a great way to save a few bucks on your utility bills while preserving an increasingly scarce, life-sustaining resource.

Start with Recycling and Reducing

Before you start tearing up your lawn and replacing your pipes, you can save quite a bit of money and water by utilizing a few simple water recycling methods.

  • If It’s Yellow Let It Mellow – Yes, this is a very old adage, but it still rings true. By only flushing your toilet when it contains solid waste, you can save more than one gallon for every flush you avoid.
  • Recycle Water Where You Can – You can easily recycle gallons of water by placing a bucket underneath the shower faucet while your shower warms up. This water can be used for watering plants, washing dishes, watering pets and many other tasks.
  • Reduce Water Waste – It can’t be overstated how much water you’ll save when you turn off the sink as you’re brushing your teeth, doing dishes and washing your hands. This also applies to taking shorter showers and opting for a broom instead of a hose when cleaning your driveway or walkway.
  • Opt for Full Loads – When doing laundry or using the dishwasher, only run the appliance when it’s unquestionably full. Additionally, try and cut back on washing items like water glasses and towels after just one use.
  • Xeriscape – Impactful water conservation takes place outside the home as well. Reducing the size of your lawn or even transitioning to a xeriscape yard, which features mostly succulents and rock, will save countless gallons of water day in and day out.

Make Some Appliance and Structural Changes

In addition to the quick lifestyle changes you can make around the house to save water, you can also make some long-term and hands-off changes sure to save you even more in terms of money and water conservation in the long run.

  • Consider Dual-flush Toilets – Older toilet models use almost twice as much water as newer, dual-flush toilets, which only use as much water as needed, so you don’t have to worry about “letting it mellow.”
  • Install More Efficient Fixtures – Faucets and other fixtures can have a huge impact on how much water your home goes through. For example, standard shower heads use approximately two and a half gallons of water per minute, while more efficient heads use less than two.
  • Find and Fix Leaks – Installing new faucets can also eliminate potential leaks. Even a small drip can lead to a surprisingly pricey water bill at the end of the month. This extends beyond the faucet though; leaky pipes, hoses, toilets and sinks can all result in surprisingly high volumes of wasted water.
  • Insulate Hot Water Pipes – Warming up your water before a shower or laundry load takes time, and countless gallons are wasted while you wait for it to warm to a bearable temperature. Insulating your hot water pipes can keep water warm and avoid needless wasting.
  • Regular Inspections and Maintenance – Keeping your home’s plumbing up to date and working properly will help you avoid unseen leaks and inefficient usage. Plus, regular inspections can help you make the decision to upgrade older appliances.

Consider South West Plumbing

There are a variety of things you can do to conserve water in your home on your own, but there are even more things you can do with the assistance of an honest, expert plumber. South West Plumbing can help you save money and conserve water by addressing leaks and installing new, efficient fixtures and toilets for a competitive price. Seattle-area residents can contact South West Plumbing online or by calling 206-932-1777 today.

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Revamp Your Kitchen and Save Money While Doing It

refresh your kitchen

Food brings people together, which may be why the kitchen is often the center of the home. Of course, that also means your kitchen gets the most use, and as a result, more repairs and updates may be required than other rooms in your home.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. A new kitchen can add thousands of dollars of value to your home as well as making it more attractive to prospective buyers. If you’re not planning to sell any time soon, a remodeled kitchen can revitalize your home, acting as your family’s main hub and a place to impress guests.

Before You Start

The first thing you’ll want to consider before renovating your kitchen is your home’s future. Whether you’re planning on renting it out, living in it for a few years or settling down for life should influence your remodeling decisions. Think about your return on investment and the average cost of living in your neighborhood if you plan on selling or renting your home within a short period of time. Keep in mind sellers often see better returns on minor remodels than full renovations.

Cost is another major factor to consider before starting a project. Once you get the design ball rolling, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of remodeling and splurge on cool items like built-in coffee machines or elaborate mosaic backsplashes. These can certainly define your kitchen space, but you should try to be realistic about your budget and time constraints. Even partial kitchen remodels are an expensive undertaking. If you’re spending thousands of dollars and giving up weeks of comfort during installation, you want to be sure you’ll be happy with the outcome, not regretting the price tag. A clear, immutable budget is especially helpful for people who recognize their own tendency to overspend.

Cabinets

Cabinets are often the largest expenditure during a kitchen renovation, but they can really upgrade the feel of your home. If you want to refresh your kitchen’s look without breaking the bank, you can reface existing cabinets by repainting, refinishing or adding veneers. Or, if you already like the overall look of your cabinets but want to give them more flair, opt for a new metallic knob or handle.

Consider that you don’t necessarily need cabinet doors – you could leave your shelving visible for a uniquely refreshing look. It’s a bolder choice in a family home, but if you’re a cook or you like to display your beautiful dishware, this could be the way to go.

One place where you shouldn’t skimp? Functionality or storage. If your cabinets are made of poor quality material, if they have significant wear and tear or if there simply isn’t enough space for all your pots and pans, additional cabinets or a complete replacement might be the best way to go.

Counters & Islands

When it comes to counters, there are nearly endless choices, and your decision should be dictated by daily use. Some counters are scratch, stain and heat resistant but may not have the look you want, and vice versa. Granite and other natural stones remain a popular choice, although authentic designer stone may strain your budget. If you’re looking for a less costly renovation, laminate and tile are both viable options. Wood, concrete and stainless steel are less common but can contribute to a unique and consistent aesthetic, whether warm and homey or modern and sleek.

Islands, while optional, can be one of the most helpful and functional additions to the kitchen, especially if you’re used to cooking for many people or throwing parties at your home. They provide durability and storage that a table might not. However, an island is only an asset if it’s an appropriate distance from the counters and appliances. It shouldn’t be so large that it closes off an otherwise spacious kitchen or becomes cumbersome to walk around. For a smaller kitchen, try a custom sized island or peninsula.

Walls, Backsplashes & Flooring

Other than knobs and handles, walls are one of the cheapest ways to spruce up your kitchen. While neutral colors always help with resale value, don’t be afraid to add a pop of color like a warm red, muted yellow or light blue if you plan on enjoying your room for a long time.

Backsplashes aren’t required, but they certainly add an element of sophistication to your space. Make sure that your backsplash matches your countertops, but don’t be afraid to use this space to highlight some accent colors. If you really want to emphasize this area of your kitchen, go with a glass or stone backsplash.

For flooring, aim for something that can withstand spills and foot traffic. Porcelain tile is a beautiful and sturdy option, while hardwood flooring is timeless and easier on the feet. If you’re looking to save money, you can’t go wrong with vinyl.

Appliances

Appliances are truly what makes or breaks a kitchen. While the other parts are primarily about appearance, appliances are all about function. Many homebuyers are looking for stainless steel or integrated appliances disguised as cabinets, but don’t let that stop you from considering functionality. Convection ovens, quiet dishwashers, new fridge styles and powerful, easy-to-use sink faucets might be more appealing than lavish looks if they make daily life simpler.

Regardless of style, investing in energy efficient appliances is a win-win. Eco-friendly buyers will appreciate the sustainability, and in the meantime, you can enjoy lower water and electric bills.

South West Plumbing

If you need plumbing services for your new kitchen sink, dishwasher or refrigerator, South West Plumbing can help. We will give you your quote up front so you know what to expect ahead of time. When we’re finished, we’ll make sure your home and newly refreshed kitchen show no trace of us being there. Call us at 206-932-1777 or contact us online to schedule your service appointment today!