The Most Common Winter Plumbing Issues

When people agree to purchase a home, they also agree to assume all the expenses that come with such an investment, and it certainly does seem like more things go wrong in the dead of winter than at any other time of year, especially when it comes to plumbing. Here at Garvin’s Sewer Service, we field a lot of phone calls during the colder months of the year, and we obviously are happy to help how we can. Still, considering how in-demand a plumbing repair service technician is from November through March, it is worth knowing what may be going wrong with your plumbing so you can keep an eye on it throughout winter.

The following are four of the most common winter plumbing issues our professionals deal with during the colder month:

Frozen Pipes

Far and away the most common problem in the winter months is frozen pipes, which obviously happens when the weather gets so cold that your pipes (and the water therein) freeze. The first thing to do if you feel like this may be the problem is turn off your water at the supply to keep any more water from clogging up and bursting the pipes. After that, it’s best to call a plumbing repair service right away so they can diagnose and correct the problem, which can be significant if left unattended.

Water Line Break

Another side effect of standing water in freezing pipes is the potential for a water line break. When water freezes inside a line, it can cause blockages that can grow and eventually cause major leaks that can be expensive to repair. There are pressure relief valves that can be installed in your water line in certain areas to help make sure these blockages don’t occur, but that typically requires professional help.

A Lack of Hot Water

We also get a lot of phone calls about water heater problems, which happen this time of year because the water being pulled in travels through very cold pipes, meaning it takes longer for that water to heat up. While this itself is more inconvenience than major problem, it is true that water heaters work harder in the winter and that people use more hot water when it’s cold outside, so more problems do occur with these this time of year.

Clogged Drains

Interestingly, we also get more calls for clogged drains during the holidays, likely because people are cooking and hosting parties so much more often than at other times in the year. With more cooking comes more sink and garbage disposal use, and with increased use comes the higher potential for something to go wrong. If and when that does happen, a professional plumber can help clear up the problem and get your drains unclogged for even more holiday cheer.

An Experienced Englewood, Co Plumber

If any of these issues rear their ugly heads in your home this winter, give us a call here at Garvin’s Sewer Service. Our skilled professionals will have you up and running in no time, even if Jack Frost makes it harder than ever to make those repairs!

Why do plumbing contractors charge the way they do?

If you have ever tried to call around to get a plumbing quote, you have likely discovered some frustrating information. Overall, there are a few ways plumbing contractors charge, and understanding it may help you be a better informed consumer and hopefully less discouraged.

Here are the industry standards for how plumbing contractors charge, along with some pros and cons of each. Finding a plumber who charges in a way that makes the most sense for you should be your objective.

First, it is important to note that some plumbing contractors won’t quote over the phone and therefore may charge a nominal fee to come to your home to see the work and provide a quote. Some do offer it for free as well. The service call fee, or the quote fee, is usually just enough to cover their time to drive over and give an estimate. Most plumbers will apply this fee to work performed when the bid is accepted by the homeowner.

The Flat Rate Plumber: “We charge an upfront fee”

Plumbing contractors who use flat rate pricing allow you to know what you will pay upfront. They may use a range rather than a specific quote, ie. $150-$200.

Pro: You know what your invoice total will be when the job starts. They will likely add charges for unexpected changes from unseen problems such as removing a p-trap and discovering rust, or pulling a toilet and finding the subfloor has disintegrated.

Con: While you may know the price upfront, you may not know how long they will be there. The price isn’t hourly, so it depends a lot on the skill of the technician. Plumber A could take 1-2 hours for a job that Plumber B takes 3-4 on. Because you pay the same price either way, it doesn’t matter, unless your time does. Additionally, flat rate plumbers have the reputation for higher prices because very often they build the “worst case scenario” into their price.

Our suggestion: Ask how long the job should take and what parts are included so you know you are getting a fair price. Please don’t compare part prices to retailers as the quality is not the same and therefore can be deceiving.

The Traditionalist Plumbing Contractor: “We charge parts plus labor”

Plumbers traditionally have charged an hourly rate plus parts. Again, they may or may not quote over the phone, and if they do, it is a best estimate and may not be fully accurate until they see the job.

Pro: After seeing the job at hand, experienced plumbing contractors should still be able to give an estimate for the time and materials the job will take. Again, additional costs can come up from unforeseen problems.

Con: If you get a slow or unskilled plumber you could pay more for the same job as another customer with a faster or more experienced one.

Our suggestion: Find out how long the job takes on average. Let the plumber know if you prefer parts to be fixed rather than replaced as that will affect the pricing and without your stated preference plumbing contractors will do it the way they are accustomed.

Most of us will need to call a plumber at some time in our homeownership experience, but not enough to be experts on the matter. Garvin’s hopes to be a trusted resource for you, so please call if we can help. Depending on the needed service, we will quote you over the phone, and charge in the way that best serves the customer. If you have the need for plumbing contractors, give Garvin’s a call today!