It now appears that community lockdowns, sheltering in place and social distancing may continue well into the future as we all work to contain and eradicate the global pandemic of COVID-19. Everything about the way we do business and maintain our homes has changed.
At this point in the crisis, many months in, homeowners may be wondering if it’s safe to work with residential trades, such as renovation contractors and plumbing repair services. As we begin to build on what the new normal might look like, the answer is a cautious yes.
For many of us, sheltering in place has put added strain on domestic infrastructure. With kids out of school and employees working remotely, people are at home for much longer periods than usual, and household plumbing is likely to be getting a heftier work out as a result. The increased use of sanitary and hygiene-related products such as toilet paper alternatives and wipes may also be impacting plumbing systems. And even though many wipes are considered to be “flushable”, domestic plumbing is not really designed to accommodate a barrage of this type of material.
When you’re working from home, distractions such as malfunctioning systems are unwelcome more than ever. A minor plumbing repair becomes a huge problem if you’re juggling deadlines and business meetings in the next room.
Sadly, plumbing does not take pandemics into consideration when it’s preparing to mess up your life. All the things that can go wrong with household pipes and fixtures can still go wrong, stay at home orders or no.
Clogs and blockages, leaking pipes, standing water, failure to flush, weird smells or noises, drips and minor floods – even the best maintained plumbing infrastructure is periodically subject to these types of failures. Some can be easily resolved with the physical removal of the blockage, but in some cases finding and clearing the clog can be much more challenging.
And for certain plumbing emergencies, you will definitely need to call in a professional plumber, regardless of government orders and global catastrophes. In the greater Minneapolis, MN area, that plumbing repair service professional should definitely be Paul Bunyan Plumbing & Drains.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Well, just about anything can go wrong with an intricate household system such as plumbing. Failures can occur at any junction where pipe meets fitting or joint. And there are a number of problems that can crop up over time and use. These are the most common issues that warrant a call from a qualified plumbing repair service professional :
Clogs and Blockages – obstructions can destroy the efficiency and free flow of drains and pipes throughout the home. Blockages can occur over time with the build-up of insoluble materials such as hair, grease, some paper products or food debris. Or they can happen suddenly when foreign objects are introduced to drains, or inadvertently flushed.
Running toilet – a toilet that is continually running is wasting water. This may be caused by parts failure – a dysfunctional flush valve, a corroded handle or a leaking fill valve. Some of these problems are quite easy to fix, but if your toilet continues to run after minor fiddling, you probably need to call in a plumbing repair service expert. A constantly running toilet can cost you big time when your water bill arrives, so don’t put it off.
Lower water pressure than usual – if only one fixture is affected, the fixture itself or the piping attached to it may be the culprit. But lower water pressure can also result from major valves (such as the main shut off valve or the valve that connects your home to the municipal water supply) being not completely opened. There could also be a problem with the water pressure regulator. All of these issues require the input of a plumber.
Leaks – drips and minor leaks and seepages can happen almost anywhere, even behind walls and under floors, where they can silently do damage for a long time before being detected. One tip – if your water bill suddenly spikes for no apparent reason, it can be a hint that water is leaking somewhere in your home. A plumbing repair service specialist will be able to trace plumbing infrastructure to find the source of the leak, wherever it may originate, and make the repair.
Floods – a flood is a catastrophe, no matter what causes it. A basement full of water is pretty hard to ignore, although if a home is not occupied for a period of time, a flood could go undetected. Some homes have security systems that are programmed to identify floods or major leaks. In any case, floods need to be arrested, pumped dry, and then the source of the problem repaired. Any damage that has occurred needs to be tidied up.
Broken fixtures and fittings – plumbing fittings such as toilets, sinks and shower heads are all subject to wear and tear. They can crack or fall apart or simply outlive their functionality. Same thing with pipes, hoses and valves. A plumbing repair service provider will assess what needs replacement and what can possibly be salvaged and repaired. Sure, you can make do with a cracked sink for a while, but superficial imperfections may also affect the performance of component parts down the line.
Older infrastructure that needs replacement – plumbing infrastructure has evolved in the last half century. While new pipes are generally copper or PVC, in some older homes they may be inferior plastics, galvanized steel (which can corrode over time) or even lead (which is toxic). Working with a plumbing repair service, homeowners can identify what needs to be replaced to keep their home up to code, safe and functioning efficiently.
Less Obvious Signs of a Problem
While many plumbing problems are painfully obvious to the naked eye, others may be hidden behind walls, below the floor, or even underground. However, poor performance and a few of the following tell-tale signs make it a pretty sure bet that there’s a plumbing issue brewing:
- Weird smells such as mold or mustiness or (obviously) sewage are a good indication that something is up with the plumbing infrastructure. Standing water is usually full of bacteria and this can cause foul odors.
- Similarly, weird sounds such as gurgling, whining or choking coming from sinks, toilets or pipes can point to blockages or clogs. Any sound other than the distant rush of freely running water can be cause for concern.
- Water where it shouldn’t be – in the basement, in a puddle on the floor, or running down the outside of a wall – is perhaps the most obvious sign of a plumbing problem. Water in any household is mostly confined to pipes. This control is essential because water can so quickly damage the construction materials, such as drywall, wood or flooring materials, that it comes in contact with.
- Even if you don’t have a septic field on your property, problems in the yard can point to plumbing infrastructure. Pipes distributing water and taking waste out of the home can fail due to intruding tree roots, misplaced digging, construction vibrations or earthquake. When this happens the ground becomes saturated with water or waste, creating sinkholes and damp areas. A qualified plumbing repair service provider may need to coordinate with an excavation contractor and municipal officials in certain scenarios within suburban or urban settings.
Why Calling In a Professional Plumber Is Always a Good Idea
Making the argument for DIY is usually not difficult when it comes to minor household repairs. But plumbing may be the biggest exception to that rule. Not convinced? Here are just a few of the strongest reasons why you should always leave plumbing repairs to the pros:
Experience and knowledge always tell. A skilled plumber is trained to understand how the entire plumbing system works, and knows how to run diagnostic tests, troubleshoot and precisely pinpoint the source of the problem. Paul Bunyan Plumbing & Drains of Minneapolis, MN supports a team of experienced, certified plumbers who can stay cool in a crisis, and fix the problem right the first time. DIY is simply no match for this kind of seasoned knowledge.
A professional plumber always has the right tools for the job and the skill to use them effectively and safely. Whether it’s a plumber’s snake, specialty size wrenches or video diagnostic equipment, the professional plumbing tool kit is designed specifically for pipes, fixtures and plumbing equipment. The more experience a plumbing repair service professional has, the better he or she is equipped to tackle plumbing issues effectively.
Issues of safety and hygiene are more important than ever. Even at the best of times plumbing repair service can be hazardous. The gases that circulate in sewer pipes, bacteria-laden standing water, combustibles that fuel pumps and compressors – all of these things have the potential to harm you and your family, especially if one of you is attempting a repair when you don’t really know what you’re doing. A professional plumbing repair service provider knows the dangers of the domestic plumbing infrastructure and will work to rigorous safety standards to keep everyone safe.
Working with a pro will save money in the long run. Some half-baked DIY repairs can result in further damage and the increased costs incurred when a professional plumbing repair service needs to be called in to set things right. Save yourself some money by letting a plumber handle the job as soon as the problem is identified. In the long run, it’s the smart and economical thing to do.
In an emergency, a professional plumbing service provider will back up their work with certifications and guarantees. If an insurance claim is involved, having a professional plumbing repair service provider do the work makes all the difference. In an emergency, don’t mess around with unlicensed contractors or DIY solutions – contact a certified professional fast.
Safety for Service Calls
Doing any kind of business will require new safety protocols during and post-pandemic. Any reputable business springing back into action, including trades such as plumbing, will have them in place, so don’t be afraid to ask before a service call. Here are a few things to consider:
- If work can safely be put off, consider delaying repair calls as long as possible. But in many jurisdictions, plumbing repair services and other home repair contractors are exempt from stay at home restrictions. So there is no reason to live with a potentially disastrous situation out of fear. Only you can know whether the situation is serious enough to invite a professional repair person into your home.
- When you book an appointment, ask the plumbing repair service provider about the company-wide hygiene precautions being taken. And quiz the individual technician making the call as well. Are they healthy? What is the company doing to ensure everyone stays safe? How many other households have they visited before arriving at yours?
- Prepare for someone coming into your household from the outside. Remind everyone in your family that they must keep 6 feet of distance from the plumbing technician at all times. Encourage family members to not watch the work, but to stay in another part of the home when a plumber is making a call. Open doors and generally clear a path so the plumber touches as few surfaces as possible.
- Some plumbers will now install temporary barriers of plastic around their work area. But you will still need to clean and disinfect the area once they leave.
- Provide access to soap and water for proper hand washing. Your plumber will appreciate the gesture.
If you’re in the great Minneapolis, MN area and your household is experiencing issues with plumbing, don’t hesitate to give the experts at Paul Bunyan Plumbing & Drains a call, even if government restrictions remain in place in your neighbourhood. From emergencies such as flooding and sewer backups to less urgent scenarios involving minor clogs and leaks, professional plumbing repair service providers can get your home’s water and waste infrastructure flowing smoothly again, safely and quickly. Even during a pandemic, they’re on your side.