What to do if You Smell a Gas Leak

What to do if You Smell a Gas Leak

When used and installed correctly, natural gas is convenient and safe. But gas leaks can happen in even the best systems. These leaks can lead to physical symptoms, and carbon monoxide poisoning is a danger if it goes unchecked. Both people and animals can fall victim to gas leak symptoms.

The American Gas Association estimates that there are over 71 million commercial, industrial, and residential premises throughout the United States that use natural gas. Since natural gas is very flammable, gas leaks increase explosion and fire risks.

If you suspect a gas leak, you must take steps to protect yourself and your family immediately. Leave the premises and call the local fire department, 911, or your utility company’s emergency number. We’ll tell you about gas leak symptoms, signs, causes, and what to do if you discover a gas leak on your premises.

gas leaks

Causes of Gas Leaks

Gas leaks can appear unexpectedly and cause a lot of damage to the underlying pipes. These leaks can threaten the well-being and safety of your family and friends inside your house. For these reasons, you must take immediate action if you believe you have a gas leak. The most common gas leak causes include:

Appliances 

There’s a very good chance that you have an appliance or two in your home that uses propane or natural gas to operate. Popular appliances include your gas dryer, fireplace, stove, or water heater. Over time, the seals that connect and hold your home’s piping to these appliances can corrode and wear out. This corrosion and the breaking down of these seals and pipes can lead to gas leaks in your home or business.

Lack of Ventilation

Any appliance that generates heat and is experiencing a malfunction can create and emit higher levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion.

Larger items, like heating systems for your home, may generate carbon monoxide. But these appliances can eliminate it with a chimney or exhaust fan. If the chimney gets clogged or the exhaust fan stops working, carbon monoxide can start to fill up your home. Carbon monoxide is odorless, and this makes it hard to detect. Monitoring for it continually is essential, however, as it can be deadly.

Poor Piping

There is a maze of crisscrossing pipes under your home. These pipes bring gas into your appliances’ pipe connectors. Over time, this piping system can erode or become faulty. The pipes can disconnect and wear out, or they can become disconnected because of external forces like surrounding tree roots. Poor piping is very common in older homes, and this can allow gas to start to seep inside.

How to Detect Gas Leaks

Fortunately, there are several ways you can detect gas leaks. The following signs could be indicators that you have an active gas leak in or around your home. If you’re not sure, you’ll want to call in professionals just to be safe.

Listen 

  • You hear a whistling sound coming from the general area of your gas lines.
  • There is a hissing or roaring noise by your appliances.

Look 

  • You can see a damaged connection leading to your natural gas appliance.
  • Debris, dirt, or water get blown into the air around the gas line.
  • There is a random dry patch of grass in your yard when everywhere else is moist.
  • You see an explosion or fire near the pipeline.
  • An earthquake, flood, fire, or other disasters can cause exposed pipelines.
  • Your gas bill is much higher than normal.

Smell

  • A sulfur-like odor hangs in the air.

Be Wary of Relying on Just Smell

Although many people say gas has a distinctive odor that can make a gas leak easy to recognize, there are reasons why you may not be able to smell it. They include:

  • Having a diminished sense of smell.
  • You’re experiencing a phenomenon called odor fatigue. This is a temporary, normal inability to smell an odor after you’ve been around it for a while.
  • You have a common cold, allergies, or a sinus infection.
  • You routinely use alcohol, tobacco, certain medications, or drugs.
  • Other odors hide or mask the gas odor.
    Soil or pipe conditions have caused a phenomenon called odor fade

Understanding Odor Fade

Chemical or physical processes can cause natural gas to lose its smell, making it undetectable. Absorption, adsorption, oxidation, or a combination of all three can cause odor fade. The following situations are more likely to bring about odor fade:

  • You have natural gas piping systems that use a higher amount of pressure, and the natural gas flow can be intermittent or limited.
  • You have new, steel piping that wasn’t made to handle odorized natural gas.
  • There is mill scale, rust, air, moisture, pipe thread compound, cutting oil, condensates, liquids, or other substances masking it.

Signs of Gas Leaks

While small gas leaks may not come with physical symptoms or a smell, you might notice:

  • Bubbles in water
  • Damaged gas pipe
  • Dead houseplants
  • Hissing or whistling sound near a gas line
  • Smell of sulfur or rotten eggs
  • White cloud or dust cloud near a gas line

Your gas bills may go up because some gas escapes from appliances or gas lines into your home or business.

Physical Symptoms of Gas Leaks

As the gas leaks into the home, the oxygen levels in the air will drop. The reduced oxygen levels are what cause the physical symptoms associated with exposure to gas leaks. These physical symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Blistering or pale skin following direct contact with the gas
  • Chest pains
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
    Eye and throat irritation
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes and swings, including depression
  • Nausea
  • Nosebleeds
  • Reduced appetite
  • Ringing in the ears

Gas Leak Exposure Symptoms in Pets

Your pets are more susceptible to developing symptoms of gas leak exposure. This susceptibility is due to their smaller size and higher sensitivity levels. If you own pets and suspect a gas leak, you should keep an eye on:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Disorientation
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood or behavior changes
  • Red or watering eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting

In extreme exposure cases, your pet could even die from too much exposure to gas.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Although typical gas leak exposure symptoms can be severe, carbon monoxide poisoning is even more deadly. Carbon monoxide poisoning can mirror the signs of a gas leak. You can end up with carbon monoxide emissions when gas doesn’t completely burn.

Exposure can be fatal if you don’t treat it. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found that 5,149 people died in the United States between 1999 and 2010 from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. There are several symptoms to look for, and they include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Muscle control loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pink skin and bright red lips

What to Do if You Suspect a Gas Leak

If you suspect your home has a gas leak, it’s critical that you immediately evacuate every person and all of your pets from the building. You want to leave the doors open to keep the gas from building up in the home. Call the local fire department, 911, or your utility company’s emergency hotline number. Make sure you’re outside the house before you make this call. Using your phone can ignite the gas and set off an explosion.

Animals and people displaying symptoms of gas exposure require immediate treatment. If the symptoms are severe, make sure you detail this in your 911 call. Ask if the operator will dispatch an ambulance, or take them straight to your local emergency department. If you’re taking your pets to the emergency vet, call ahead and tell them why you’re coming.

You may suspect a gas leak but have trouble confirming it right away. If this is the case, you should make a note of any symptoms you experience when you leave and enter the property. Symptoms that come back when you go into the house and disappear when you leave could indicate a gas leak. It could also indicate carbon monoxide poisoning or mold poisoning.

If you go into your home or building and you can smell gas, turn off your gas pilot light right away. Go around and open all of your windows. Step outside and call your utility company. The utility company will most likely dispatch a certified technician to inspect your home. They’ll bring equipment that monitors the gas levels in the air.

Things You Should Never Do If You Suspect a Gas Leak

There are things you should do in the event of a gas leak, and there are things you should never do. Even if you haven’t confirmed the gas leak in your home yet, you should never:

  • Allow the situation to go unreported
  • Attempt to repair the leak
  • Keep the doors and windows closed
  • Search for the source of the leak
  • Switch lights or household appliances on or off
  • Use a phone inside the home
  • Use sources of ignition like candles, lighters, or matches

What to Do After You Have a Gas Leak

A certified technician will usually confirm a gas leak using an adjusted electronic gas analyzer. The technician will check your outside gas lines and appliances for leaks or faults. When they find the leak, they’ll repair it right away. Once they fix it, you should:

  • Air out the house for a few hours before going back inside
  • Install or check your carbon monoxide alarms
  • Wait until you get the official notification to go back into the building

Typically, gas leak symptoms won’t impact your health if you had low exposure levels and had someone fix it quickly. However, having long-term exposure to a gas leak can result in symptoms that won’t go away, including respiratory problems, depression, or mood-related issues. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor after you have exposure to gas, especially if you have long-term problems. With the proper treatment, your symptoms can resolve or improve.

Preventing Gas Leaks

Fortunately, it’s possible to prevent gas leaks from happening. All it takes is a little time and dedication, but it’s worth it to keep everyone safe. Top prevention tips include:

Educate Yourself 

People should make a point to learn about the symptoms that come with gas leaks. You want to teach your children and family members about staying safe around natural gas. Everyone should know what to do if they suspect or confirm a gas leak. You may even want to write down a plan and what to look for with gas leaks.

Ensure Good Ventilation 

You want to keep the areas around your gas equipment and gas-burning appliances unobstructed and clutter-free. This ensures the natural gas doesn’t build up in these spots. It’s also a good idea to air out your house or building regularly.

Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors 

A carbon monoxide detector looks like a smoke alarm, and you can plug it into an outlet or install batteries. You want one on every floor of your home. Ideally, every bedroom in your home will have one installed too.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher Inside Your Home 

Gas leaks are highly flammable. You can ignite natural gas by a spark, and even making a phone call is enough to set it off. Have a least one fire extinguisher in your home, and have routine inspections. This fire extinguisher will help you react quickly if there is a fire.

Schedule Routine Inspections 

Every year, schedule routine inspections of all of your gas pipelines and gas-burning appliances. This service is usually free, and your utility company will send a certified technician out. Mark it on the calendar so you don’t forget to call.

Store Your Chemicals Carefully

Store all of your household chemicals like paint and cleaning supplies away from your gas lines and appliances. Make sure these chemicals are in a well-ventilated space that is clean and dry. Go through them once a year and get rid of any expired cleaners or chemicals you find.

Contact Best San Diego Leak Detection Today!

If you suspect that you have a gas leak in your home or business, contact us. Our certified technicians can come out, assess your property, and help fix any gas leaks we find.

November 19, 2019 Categories:

How to Find a Water Leak Underground

How to Find a Water Leak Underground

Nearly every homeowner has to deal with a water leak at some time or another. It’s one thing to deal with a water leak that happens inside your home, but a slab leak is a different matter. This happens out of sight and deep underground, beneath your home’s foundation.

If your home has a basement or crawl space, your plumbing is fairly easy to access. These areas provide a foundation for your home while also creating a place for your plumbing. If your home doesn’t have either of these, it’s probably built on a concrete slab.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of structures. Homes built on slabs are less prone to flooding, mold growth, and gas leaks than those with basements or crawl spaces. They create a safer living environment. At the same time, concrete slabs are vulnerable to damage from natural events such as tree roots or earthquakes. Damage to the slab and the surrounding area can lead to damaged pipes or vice versa.

How Does a Concrete Slab Work?

When a builder begins home construction, they dig a trench and place the pipes for the plumbing in either gravel or sand. Next, they pour concrete into a mold to create the concrete slab. The concrete cures into a solid foundation that will support the house. The slab encases the plumbing lines, creating a formidable barrier between any leaks and the plumber who wants to repair them.

The pipes might be made of copper, galvanized steel, or cast iron, depending on the age of the home. Although these materials have different lifespans, all of them are prone to decay over time. Homes built since the 1980s are likely to have a moisture barrier to protect the slab in case of leaks. Any home built before that time probably can’t defend itself against the moisture.

slab leak

Most Common Causes of a Slab Leak

Your home doesn’t have to be old for a slab leak to occur. There are several causes of damage to the pipes and/or the concrete slab. Some of the most common are:

  • Improper Construction – If the pipes aren’t of good quality or they aren’t installed correctly, it can result in a pipe leak. The flow of water is abrasive and leads to corrosion, especially in copper pipes. In older homes, copper pipes have more corrosion and often have more severe damage. Never assume that the only option is to jackhammer through the concrete and replace the damaged pipe. Today’s trenchless pipelining technology makes it easier and more affordable to replace the damaged pipe with a new one without disrupting your property and your life.
  • Abrasion– Abrasion doesn’t just happen from the inside; it can happen on the outside of the pipes, too. If they rub against gravel or concrete, or other pipes, the abrasion can eventually lead to leaks.
  • Poor Water Quality– Water that is either hard or soft can lead to pipe corrosion. Acidic water typically leaves blue/green stains in the shower or sinks, emitting a chlorine-like smell. Hard water often causes mineral build-up on your water fixtures, makes your skin and clothes feel dry and itchy, and leaves water spots on dishes and glasses. The normal pH of water is 7.0 and it shouldn’t vary much in either direction. It’s a good idea to check the pH of your water regularly.
  • Shifting Soil– The soil under the concrete slab can shift due to normal erosion, underground water, or events like an earthquake. If the change in the soil causes your house to move even slightly, it can cause enough pressure on the pipes to cause a leak. Often, the damage is extensive and results in severe water leaks.

All of these causes have one thing in common. They all lead to a slab leak over time. In some cases, the damage is limited to one area of a single pipe. In others, it might extend to multiple pipes and the integrity of the concrete slab.

Although the damage is underground and out-of-sight, there are signs that you can look for inside and outside of your house.

  1. Damp Spots on the Floor

This is usually the first sign that you have a slab leak. You might find water or damp spots on your floor. If the hot water is leaking, it can also create warm spots on the floor. A barefoot walk through your home is a good way to discover where you might have leaking hot water lines.

  1. You Hear Rushing Water

If you hear the sound of rushing water beneath the floor and you don’t have a faucet downstairs, it’s probably coming from a leaking pipe.

  1. Mold and Mildew

Leaks can cause damp spots on the floor or in the ceiling. They result in mold and mildew that might give off a musty odor.

  1. Low Water Pressure

When water is leaking in one spot, it takes water away from other outlets. If the shower or sink doesn’t have the same pressure it used to, it might mean the water is going somewhere else – such as a leak.

  1. Soggy Spots Near the Home’s Foundation

Water that escapes from pipes encased within the slab might find its way out from under the slab and pool near your home.

  1. Cracks in the Foundation

It’s normal for some cracks to occur in the foundation over time as a result of the house settling. Cracks caused by leaks occur suddenly. A slab leak that isn’t fixed can weaken the foundation and cause cracks in the foundation and walls.

  1. A High Water Bill

If your water bill suddenly goes up a lot for no known reason, you’re probably losing water somewhere in your home. You need to find out the source right away. Some causes of a high water bill are easy to explain. Others are due to an out-of-sight leak that is getting worse each day. Don’t wait until another month passes to see if things change. The problem might get worse and end up causing a lot more damage and an increasingly higher water bill.

Leaking Sewer Lines

Leaky sewer lines present an even more challenging issue. There aren’t as many clues to sewage leaks until there’s already damage to the foundation or the leak causes raised sections in your flooring. Sometimes a leaking sewer line leads to a phenomenon known as “heaving”, during which the slab swells and lifts the entire house.

What to Do If You Suspect a Slab Leak

When leaks occur under your home’s concrete slab, pinpointing the location isn’t always easy. Plumbers have modern tools that let them “see” the source of a leak without disrupting the foundation. Sonar listening devices, helium detection, and infrared cameras are valuable tools that pinpoint the site and the extent of damage to the pipe.

Once the plumber identifies the leak, they can determine whether re-plumbing or replacing the pipe is the best option. If the damage to the pipe is severe or if it is old, galvanized plumbing, you might need to replace the entire pipe. That means removing the finished flooring, jackhammering the concrete slap, and accessing the pipe. This process is expensive, and it makes a lot of mess.

Of the materials used for water beneath slabs, copper is the most common, especially in older homes. Copper often wears thin over time, resulting in pin leaks. Although there might only be a few pinholes in the pipe, the rest of the pipe is probably in a similar condition. Repairing the area with the leak is only a temporary fix. Eventually, other leaks will develop in the pipe. Re-piping provides a more lasting solution and prevents the need to break through the concrete slab when a future leak occurs.

If you do decide to repair the pipe instead of replacing it, the plumber will use a hacksaw or tubing cutter to remove the damaged area. They will then replace the pipe with new tubing and copper couplings and solder it into place. Next, they bury the pipe, replace the concrete, and repair the floor.

Repairing Sewer Lines

Like detecting the source of leaks, repairing leaks in a sewer line is more difficult than in a water line. It isn’t a job you should tackle yourself. It requires expertise about the types of pipes used and how to deal with issues involving exposure to human waste.

Sewer lines are also made of different materials depending on the age of the house. They might be cast iron or clay, while modern homes often have pipes made of PVC. The same types of couplings used for different types of sewer pipes aren’t recommended for use on sewer pipes under concrete slabs.

Hiring a professional to diagnose, locate, and repair or replace a slab leak is often the simplest and cheapest approach. They will explain your options including pipe relining when replacing the entire line isn’t necessary. They will help you find the best solution based on the specific situation and your budget.

How Much Does Slab Leak Repair Cost?

Cost is an important factor for most homeowners. When dealing with a slab repair, it’s important to consider the immediate costs and the potential future costs as well. Several factors determine the cost of repairing a slab leak. Different methods of repair involve a range of labor and expertise. One method requires excavations and the installation of a slab pier to raise the foundation. This method costs an average of $1,000 to $3,000. Another involves pouring a mixture into the space under the slab to restore its original position, and costs an average of $500 to $1,300. There’s may also be damage to the home flooring, walls, baseboards, and cabinets, all of which will contribute to the overall cost.

One of the first questions homeowners often ask about slab leak repair is whether it is covered by their homeowner’s insurance. Many homeowner insurance policies cover the repairs to flooring and other parts of the home caused by the leak, but not for the leak itself. Many people don’t foresee the probability of developing a slap leak that can damage the very foundation of their home. The time to see whether your insurance covers leaky pipe repairs of any kind is before they become a reality.

What You Need to Know About Slab Leaks

The most important to know about a slab leak is that the leaky pipe needs replaced as soon as possible. Over time, the area around the slab can erode and allow the concrete to crack or separate between the layers. A damaged foundation is a lot messier and expensive to deal with than a single leak.

The extent of the damage not only determines how extensive the job is; it also determines whether a non-invasive method of pipe repair will work. In the past, breaking through the slab was the only way to get to the pipe for repair or replacement. Sometimes the plumber could dig from outside the home. More often, they made the repair from inside the house causing a great deal of damage to the floor.

Today, modern methods of slab leak repair reduce the expense of labor and the time it takes to make these repairs. Trenchless slab leak repairs don’t cause damage to the foundation, the landscaping, or other areas of your home.

Pipelining replaces dig and replace methods by allowing the pipelining company to access the interior of the pipe through small access holes. You can use it with different repair methods for a homeowner friendly and environmentally-friendly solution. The new pipe cures in place and the process only takes a matter of hours. Once the plumber inspects the damaged pipe, they will advise you on whether pipelining is a viable solution for you.

Pipes that carry fresh or potable water are smaller in diameter than sewer pipes. Sometimes only portions of a pipe require repairs instead of an entire pipe replace. If pipe re-lining is an option, the plumber will need to remove existing debris. Also, corrosion or tree roots that narrow the pipe opening must be removed. Pipe bursting is another process used to replace pipes. The plumber will tell you whether either of these options will provide you with the best solution.

Contact Best San Diego Leak Detection Today

The first step to a successful slab leak repair is determining where the leak is located and how extensive the damage is. Best San Diego Leak Detection offers a 24-hour response team to provide an immediate response to signs of a leak at your home. We’re experts at detecting leaks and offer you the best options for your situation.

A slab leak is a serious situation that will only grow worse over time. Don’t risk letting a leak turn into more damage before you call for a repair. Contact us today by calling 800-738-5325 or emailing us to schedule an appointment or for more information about our services.

October 16, 2019 Categories:

Why Trenchless Pipe Lining is a Better Option

Why Trenchless Pipe Lining is a Better Option

One of the biggest property-owning headaches settles in when aging water pipes start causing problems.  They can develop gradually as pinpoint leaks expand into larger problems, or can dramatically burst, flooding your property.

San Diego, in particular, has an issue with outdated and degraded water pipes. Older neighborhoods may have miles of pipes composed of iron or clay that could date back a century or more. Other properties may use PVC pipe that also breaks down over time. Tree root growth, ground shifts, and normal wear and tear can create serious problems in pipes.

Property owners should check over the pipes for which they have the responsibility to make sure that they still can perform their task.

Even small leaks should get repaired quickly because they can add up to major costs over weeks or months. Some may find that the water lost in a year would have more than paid for repairs.

More importantly, in a state that often strains to provide safe drinking water during occasional droughts, leaky water pipes lose significant amounts of this most precious resource.

If a checkup discovers leaks or other problems, the property owner has an important decision to make. How should he or she choose to get the job done?

A property owner has two choices when it comes to pipe repair and replacement. Either go with the traditional method of excavating and replacing the pipe or use the latest and least invasive technology that could save residential and business owners like hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of dollars.

trenchless pipe lining

The Old-Fashioned Way

Laying water pipes in trenches serves as the traditional way to install or repair a water pipe system.

How traditional?  Underground water delivery systems date back at least to the time of the Roman Republic, possibly as early as 200 BC. Just because a method is millennia old, however, does not mean that it serves as the best method in the 21st century.

In this method, the contractor must dig deep into the ground along the entire length of the affected pipe. This procedure will involve the use of expensive heavy equipment and the moving of tons of dirt.

Finding the pipe, digging to reach it, and then repair or replacement consume a lot of resources, making this a complex way to restore optimal water service.

Problems With Trench Dug Pipe Laying

The traditional method of repairing or replacing pipes involves transforming part or all of a property into a major construction project. Large areas of the yard will require digging up, regardless of any landscaping or hard surfaces encountered.

Even outside of the area that requires digging, heavy machinery tracks can grind into grass or other property features. Backhoes, trucks, and other specialized equipment may be necessary to complete the job. Each has the potential to tear into lawns, gardens, and other features on your landscape.

Once the contractors perform their work and fill in the holes, they have no obligation to restore the property. Unless otherwise specified, the responsibility of returning the property to its original look lies with the owner.

Imagine your well-tended grass, flowers, walkways, and other landscaping features demolished and replaced by large barren spots, unusable sidewalks and driveways, or a destroyed garden. Depending on where the pipe runs, you could be responsible for restoring or replacing landscape features destroyed by the construction process.

If you own a business, the inconvenience caused by digging and demolition could make your business less accessible. This demolition could block vital customer traffic for your business while leaving you stuck with the bill for replacing items such as sidewalks.

Repairing areas affected by the digging process could entail a cost of  hundreds or even thousands more dollars over and above the pipe repair job. It could also take days to complete, leaving your household with no water for an indeterminate period.

What Is Trenchless Pipe Lining?

With the traditional method used since Roman times a threat to create substantial costs, endless headaches, and a demolished landscape, the time has come to consider an alternative.

Technology advances in the past two decades have led to a less expensive, less time-consuming, and less destructive way to resolve water pipe problems.

Trenchless pipe lining represents a revolution in repairing or replacing sections of water pipe. It employs the latest equipment and techniques to solve ancient problems.

Two Types of Trenchless Pipe Lining

Trenchless pipe lining can take two forms. One emphasizes repairing the existing pipe while the other eliminates its use and replaces it entirely.

The first step lies in determining the extent of the damage to figure out which process would best resolve the problem. Water bubbles in the soil or a persistent wet spot on the ground during both wet and dry weather could indicate a water leak issue.

Once the problem area is found, trained professional pipe repair teams can perform examinations to determine the scope of the damage to the pipe. These examinations will direct the team in deciding which technique to use to restore proper water service.

Lateral Pipe Lining

This form serves as the most common method of repairing damaged water pipes.

Lateral pipe lining only requires the digging of a small access hole located near the affected length of pipe. From that access point, a pipe repair crew canrun small cameras into the aperture to determine the size and scope of the damaged pipe.

Next, the team will use precision equipment to clear away blockages such as clogs, roots, dirt, or other debris preventing water flow.  After the team confirms that they have cleared the pipe, they will take measurements to determine the size of the liner needed to repair the pipe.

The crew then mixes a resin compound to fit the measurements taken by the crew. At this point, the crew will pour the resin into the liner and work the material to ensure complete impregnation of resin into the liner.

Liner and resin both get loaded into an inversion machine. This will push the liner inside out into the existing pipe.  It then inserts the liner into the pipe, inflates it with compressed air, and allows the resin-coated exterior of the liner to bond with the former “host” pipe.

This simple method of repairing pipe requires a smaller crew, does less damage, and incurs fewer costs than the old-fashioned way.

Pipe “Bursting”

Lateral pipe lining provides best results when the affected pipe has minor to moderate levels of damage. The original pipe retains enough structural integrity to allow the lining to take its shape and replace its function.

Pipe bursting serves as the best solution when a pipe has little or no remaining structural integrity. Like lateral pipe lining, a contractor crew only needs to dig a small access hole to get to the pipe.

Once the crew gets to the pipe, they measure it to determine the needed size of replacement pipe. They then install a pull rod propelled or hydraulic powered device with a solid cone tip. The cone either gets pushed or pulled through the original pipe.

The cone tip allows access into the pipe and the wider shaft and base have a wider diameter than the front. It breaks up the original pipe and burrows a wide cavity through which to run the replacement pipe.

Many property owners use this as an opportunity to install wider pipes that can deliver higher water capacity to their home or business.

Benefits of Pipe Lining Over Traditional Methods

Both forms of trenchless pipe lining and replacement offer considerable advantages over the traditional method of digging, including but not limited to:

  • Minimal digging and damage to the landscape
  • Pipe relining using this technique almost always requires less than a day of work, helping you get water service and your life back faster
  • Almost any type of pipe, iron, clay, PVC, or other material can accommodate trenchless pipe relining techniques
  • The material used for pipe relining lasts over half a century.
  • If you have small children or outdoor pets, construction work and open pits can be dangerous. No dig solutions are best for such households
  • No exposure to harmful materials, such as the ground’s natural gases, asbestos, and other potential toxins.
  • No need to dispose of old pipe materials. Either way, they get left in the ground.
  • A traditional job may require dealing with more than one contractor, making getting the job done less convenient.

The most crucial difference, however, lies in the reduced cost over traditional methods.

Using trenchless pipe lining also provides several water quality benefits as well. A relined pipe can better resist persistent root intrusion. It also helps to maintain better water quality by preventing the intrusion of dirt, rust, biological hazards, and other contaminants that can affect water quality.

Trenchless Pipe Lining Costs Less

Despite using advanced technology and well-trained crews, trenchless pipe repair and replacement almost always costs significantly less than traditional methods after all factors get added in.

The direct costs of traditional versus trenchless pipe repair and replacement cover the actual job of accessing and resolving the pipe issue. Direct costs of both services are comparable.

Traditional pipe repair or replacement can cost between $50 and $250 per foot. The price depends on the material in the original pipe, its location, and other factors.

Lateral pipe relining, by comparison, generally costs between $80 and $250 per foot. Pipe bursting’s price range extends from $80 to approximately $200.

Much of the difference in cost between traditional and modern choices in pipe repair and replacement comes through indirect costs.

The first major additional cost could come from the digging of the trench in the traditional method. Many traditional pipe repair contractors do not factor excavation into the cost estimate, often because they do not perform the actual work.  Digging a trench can cost between $4 and $12 per foot, which by itself could add hundreds to the overall cost.

Objects on a piece of property rarely conform conveniently to the placement of water pipes. Moving heavy objects, removing trees, or breaking through other barriers, such as driveways, will cause your cost to increase as well.

Digging a trench and replacing pipe will take at least two days, in most instances, to complete. If more than one contractor is involved, it could take longer. Disruption to home life presents enough problems. If a business needs pipe repair or replacement, the costs incurred will include customers who avoid coming to the business when construction makes access difficult.

The most expensive added costs, however, come from restoring the property once the pipes are repaired, the holes filled in, and the backhoes carted away.  A property may still have broken sidewalks and driveways, unsightly bare patches of ground, uprooted bushes or even trees, and piles of debris.

Restoring your property’s original look could cost thousands.  This alone gives the best reason why trenchless serves as the better option for home or business.

Reach Out Today

Contact us today to learn more about what Best San Diego Leak Protection can do for you. We have a 24-hour response team always ready to respond to leaks and damage to water pipes, gas lines, plumbing leaks, sidewalk and slab damage, and more.

Check out our amazing deals, including free leak detection with repair, a $67 drain cleaning special, 20 percent savings with key account pricing, and more.

Our professional and friendly staff will be happy to answer any questions that you may have about lateral pipe lining, pipe bursting, or any of our other services. We can also schedule you for an appointment for service.

If you have leaks and need help, call us today at 1 (800) 738-5235, send us an email to customerservice@brinksservices.net, or stop by our convenient location in Carlsbad.

Don’t pay too much for vital repairs. Call Best San Diego Leak Protection today. Let us put over 35 years of proud, effective, and efficient customer service to work for you.

September 26, 2019 Categories:
high water bill

Why Is My Water Bill So High?

Why Is My Water Bill So High?

If you are like most people, your water bill is about the same each month. Suddenly getting a high water bill might seem like a mistake on the part of the utility company or it could be that your usage went up. There might be a simple explanation for the discrepancy. If there isn’t, then it’s time to start looking for the source of the water loss.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, a high water bill can end stretching your budget. It’s even worse when it keeps getting higher each month. If a leak is the cause of the price hike, it also means a precious resource is going to waste. It’s important to find the cause of the increased cost of water as quickly as possible. If there’s a leak in your water delivery system, fixing it sooner instead of later could prevent losing even more precious water.

9 Possible Causes of a High Water Bill

  1. Changes in Water Use

It only takes one change in how you use water to add up to a lot more usage. Also, since the water bill is usually for the previous month, people sometimes forget that they had a reason for using more water. For instance, you might have filled up a swimming pool, installed a new lawn sprinkler, or had a house guest.

Have the kids been home for summer break? If so, that’s about 40 more hours of showers, hand washing, and toilet flushes than there would be during a school week. Plus, any time they spend topping off the swimming pool or playing with the water hose adds to your water consumption too. Sometimes it’s the small things you don’t think about that add up to a lot of water use and cost.

During cold weather, homeowners often let their faucets drip to prevent their pipes from freezing. Letting multiple faucets drip adds up to a lot more water use than one dripping faucet. Talk to a plumber about other solutions to freezing pipes that don’t end up wasting water.

Think about any new water-consuming appliances you’ve installed, too. Larger capacity washing machines, a new dishwasher, or other equipment might take a lot more water than your older ones. Maybe you’re just using them more often for some reason. To minimize this kind of water usage, look for energy-efficient models that use less water. They may cost a little more initially, but they’ll end up saving you money and saving water in the long run.

  1. Outdated Fixtures & Toilets

There are lots of historic homes throughout San Diego, and a lot of outdated plumbing to go with them. While these homes offer a lot of charm with their historic architecture, outdated plumbing often contributes to the problem of water loss. When new buyers purchase these homes, they don’t consider the old fixtures and toilets as problematic. If they seem to be working, they assume everything is fine. If you buy a historic home, you might be paying high water bills from the start.

If you purchased an older home, find out if the faucets, toilets, showerheads, and other fixtures have been replaced. If not, opt for new water-saving toilets and fixtures and watch to see if your water bills go down.

  1. Leaky Toilets

Toilets get used a lot in the average household, making them a primary cause of water leaks. A toilet that runs longer than normal or that has a leak can lead to a significant loss of water each month. One simple way to tell if yours is leaking is to listen closely when it shouldn’t be running water. Any sounds like water dripping, hissing, or other sounds can mean there’s a leak inside the tank.

Another test that is often used by plumbers is the dye test. You can run the test using food coloring or a dye tablet from the hardware store. Put the dye in the tank and wait for about 15 or 20 minutes to check the toilet bowl. If there’s any dye in the bowl, it means there’s a leak letting the water flow through.

  1. Leaky Faucets

A high water bill might be a clue that the leak in your faucet isn’t as minor as you thought. Those tiny drips add up, wasting gallons of water each day. Fortunately, a leaky faucet is easy to spot and, often, easy to fix. Check all the faucets and showerheads in your house including those in guest rooms, the basement, or other areas you don’t use daily. In most cases, replacing a rubber washer will take care of the leak. At most, you might need a new faucet or showerhead. It’s a minor repair in comparison to the money you will pay in wasted water over time.

  1. An Irrigation Leak

This type of leak isn’t as easy to spot as a dripping faucet. Irrigation systems used during the hot summer months take a lot of additional water even when they work efficiently. When they aren’t, they could end up using a lot more water than needed. All it takes is a small crack or a loose joint to cause major water loss. The problem is that the water can leak out even when the system is turned off. If your irrigation system is buried, it may take some detective work to find the source of trouble.

Signs of an irrigation leak are similar to those of a lateral line leak; damp patches or areas of lush grass growth are common indicators that a leak exists. You might need to contact a professional plumber to determine the source and type of the leak and to replace the damaged lines.

Another common problem with irrigation systems is that the timers don’t always work properly. They may turn on more frequently and/or wait too long before cutting off. Monitor your system to see if it needs re-programming or if the timer needs to be replaced.

  1. Lateral Line Leaks

Lateral lines are the pipes that feed water from your incoming water to your home. A leak can occur in any place where there is a crack, a hole, or a loose joint. Sometimes older pipes decay with age and develop cracks or holes. Tree root intrusion is another common cause. These types of leaks are usually much more severe than irrigation leaks. A really high water bill might be an indicator that you need to call a plumber. They can tell you your options for traditional trench pipe replacement or trenchless pipe lining. The latter offers several advantages in those situations where it is an option.

  1. Sump Pump with Water Powered Back-Up

Some houses need a sump pump to keep water from flowing into the basement or crawl spaces. But the type of sump pump you use could result in you using a lot of water to keep your home dry. A water-powered pump doesn’t require electricity or a battery backup. Instead, it connects to your water source and requires more water pressure to pump out the water. Homeowners looking for an energy-efficient sump pump might choose one powered by water. But the cost of city water that it takes to operate is more expensive than the electricity that an electrical one uses. Plus, it wastes more water.

  1. You Have a Water Softener

Sometimes a water softener will cause a high water bill when it gets stuck in the regeneration or backwash cycle. These systems use water to clean the filter and discharge the wastewater into the ground. When the system gets stuck and repeats the cycle, it results in higher water use.

  1. Inefficient Water Use

Sometimes it isn’t the equipment or the plumbing that causes a waste of water. Sometimes it’s the way the homeowner misuses water that causes the problem. We take appliances for granted without thinking about whether they are water-efficient. Some ways you might be overconsuming water include:

  • Washing laundry when you don’t have a full load
  • Using a top-loading washing machine instead of a modern front-loading style that uses about half as much water
  • Over-watering lawns and landscaping
  • Use of water-consuming recreational toys and pools
  • Washing dishes by hand
  • Running water over frozen meat and other frozen foods to thaw them
  • Taking longer showers than necessary
  • Running water while shaving or brushing teeth
  • Repeatedly running out cold water while waiting for the hot water to reach the faucet

What to Do If You Get a High Water Bill

Your first instinct is to think the water company made a mistake on your water bill. Most of the time, that isn’t the case. Sometimes there are some strange reasons that water disappears, like a cat flushing the toilet to play with the water or your neighbor hooking up a hose to your outdoor faucet to fill their pool while you’re at work. These things do happen, but it’s more likely to be one of the issues listed above. The next step is to figure out which one.

– Start by checking all the faucets, showerheads, and toilets inside your home. Listen for the sound of running or dripping water. Also, note if there are any wet spots on the floor including around your water heater. Notice if there are any spots of mold on the walls or ceiling.

– A leaky water heater often goes unnoticed until it gets severe or stops working. Check yours at the top where the water enters and leaves the tank. These tubes are the most vulnerable to leaks due to high water pressure. Check the pressure relief valve near the top and see if it’s leaking. An older, worn valve might be leaking and need to be replaced.

Check the bottom of the heater. Look at the drain valve for escaping water. If there’s a puddle around the bottom, there’s probably a leak inside. Sometimes the only way to detect a leak is by sound. Listen to see if there is a hissing sound or the sound of water dripping or running. Even if there is no sign of a leak on the outside, there could be a break inside the tank. You might need to replace your water heater tank.

If you confirm that your water heater is leaking, shut off the breaker that supplies the power (if it’s electric) or shut off the supply switch if it’s gas. Turn off the water supply to the water heater and call a plumber. If you need to replace the entire water heater, invest in a modern, energy-efficient model that uses less water.

– Turn off all the water in and outside your home and look at your water meter. It should have a triangle-shaped dial or silver wheel that rotates when water flows through the meter. If the indicator is moving, you probably have a leak.

– If there aren’t any signs of a leak indoors, go outside. Look for damp spots on your lawn or areas where the grass is greener.

Even if you can’t find any signs of a leak, call a plumber who specializes in leak detection. If the meter test indicated a leak, it could be anywhere in the pipes running beneath the ground. Plumbers have special equipment that allows them to find the source of leaks without digging.

You shouldn’t wait to see if you get another high water bill next month before finding the source of the problem. Often, water leaks result from damaged pipes that have gotten worse over time. Letting them go will only lead to more damage and greater water loss.

Contact Best San Diego Leak Detection for Expert Services

Best San Diego Leak Detection is an award-winning leak detection company serving all of Southern California. We use the most advanced techniques and tools to diagnose the source of your leak and provide you with all of the options for repair, replacement, or maintenance. If a high water bill has you worried about a leak, contact us today. We are San Diego’s most trusted and reliable leak detection company.

August 26, 2019 Categories:
hot water recirculating pump

What You Should Know About a Hot Water Recirculating Pump

What You Should Know About a Hot Water Recirculating Pump

Hot water is a modern convenience that most of us typically don’t think much about. However, if you have ever had to wait several minutes for the water coming out of the faucet to heat up, you may be interested in learning more about hot water recirculating pumps. Rather than only sending hot water to your faucet when you call for it, these types of systems ensure that there is always a steady supply of hot water ready to come out of the tap right away.

While waiting a few minutes to get hot water is more of an inconvenience than anything else, it can also be quite wasteful. Unless you collect that unused cold water in a bucket to reuse in your garden or elsewhere around your home, it all just goes straight down the drain. With a hot water recirculating pump, cold water sitting in your pipes will go back to the water heater, bringing new hot water to the faucet so that it is ready whenever you are.

Because of frequent drought conditions and water restrictions here in California, the state’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards now require all new homes to include hot water recirculating pumps if they have any faucets that are farther than 50 feet from the water heater. The goal of this policy is to prevent water waste as homeowners wait for the hot water to arrive. Even if your home is older and not required to follow this new rule, it can still be a good idea to make the switch. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Cold Water Comes Out of a Hot Water Tap

When you have separate handles for hot and cold water, you expect hot water to come out of when you turn the hot handle and vice versa. So, why is it that you get a stream of cold water from your hot tap before the water heats up? The answer is that leftover water in the pipes has cooled over time.

When you operated the hot water tap the last time you needed it, the water shuts off as soon as you turn off the tap. However, the hot water had to travel from your water heater to the faucet for you to use. When you turned the tap off, there was still plenty of hot water in transit. With the faucet turned off, there is nowhere for that hot water to go, so it just sits there in your pipes. Over time, it will gradually lose its heat, leaving cold water behind in your hot water pipes.

Then, the next time you turn on the hot water, that cold water in the pipes has to make its way out before fresh hot water can come through. This is the cold water that you feel for the first minute or so after turning on the tap. Once the hot water has had enough time to make its way from the water heater to the faucet, forcing all of the cold water out along the way, you’ll get the hot water you need. The farther the distance between your water heater and faucet, the longer it will take for the hot water to reach you, and the more water you will waste in the process.

Hot Water Recirculating Pump Styles

To minimize water waste while waiting for hot water, you can have a recirculating pump installed on your water heater. These pumps return any unused hot water to your water heater to maintain its temperature while also sending fresh hot water to your faucets so that you don’t have to wait for the water to heat up. Hot water recirculating pumps generally fall into two primary categories.

Full Recirculating Pump System

In this type of system, your plumber will install additional hot water pipes in your home. These pipes can then return the unused hot water to the water heater. As the cooling hot water makes its way back to the water heater, new hot water can take its place so that it is always ready to go when you need it. The hot water flows through a continuous loop throughout your system so that there is a steady supply of hot water, minimizing your wait time and water waste.

If you are concerned about how this constant operation might affect your energy costs for heating the water, there is no need to be. While the system is capable of running continuously, it doesn’t always do this. Most hot water recirculating pumps come with sensors or timers to regulate operation. Sensors can detect the temperature of the hot water in the pipe, only running the recirculation pump when the temperature drops below a specified level. This way, the water won’t keep circulating when the water is already warm, typically stopping itself after one complete cycle.

Timers give you even greater control over when your system operates. For example, you can program your system to automatically turn off after a specified time in the evening so that it isn’t running while you are sleeping. You can also program the schedule to turn the system off when you are at work or go out of town on vacation.

Even if the hot water recirculating pump you choose doesn’t come with a sensor or timer, your plumber can easily install one for you. This way, you’ll get all the benefits of having more control over your system without having to select an entirely new pump system.

During the installation process, your plumber will need to install additional piping throughout your home to carry the unused hot water back to the water heater. This can add to your installation cost considerably, especially if the pipes in your home are difficult to access. If you don’t want to weather the added cost, or if the installation would be too complex, you do have another option.

Recirculating Pump Comfort System

To avoid having to install new pipes, you can opt for a hot water recirculating pump that sends unused water back to the water heater through your cold water pipes rather than through a separate pipe system. This option is much more cost-effective and easier to install, making this style of system accessible to a wider range of homeowners. However, you’ll still get the benefit of fast hot water when you need it.

Comfort systems do come with one major drawback, though. Because the hot water will flow back to the water heater through the cold water pipes, the water that comes out of the cold tap at first will likely be warmer than you are used to. It may also take a few moments for the water to get truly cold. In most cases, this won’t be much of an issue, as lukewarm water is perfectly fine for many applications around the house, like cleaning and cooking. However, if you use your tap to provide drinking water, you may have to wait until the water is cool enough to be palatable.

You can combat this issue when you know you are going to need cold water by turning off the pump temporarily. This method is particularly effective during the summer. Because the weather is warmer during this time of year, you won’t need to run the pump as frequently to get hot water anyway, as the water already in the pipes will stay hot longer.

Saving Water with Hot Water Recirculating Pumps

While the most obvious benefit of hot water recirculating pumps is that you’ll have access to virtually instant hot water from every sink in your home, you’ll also be saving a lot of water. Because there are so many factors that go into calculating the water savings, it is difficult to quantify exactly how much you’ll conserve, though some estimates place the amount as high as 15,000 gallons per year. However, certain factors can increase or reduce your savings.

For starters, the size of your pipes plays a major role. Pipes with larger diameters can carry a lot more water than their narrower counterparts, so you’ll see the greatest savings if you have pipes that are on the wider side. The distance between your water heater and faucets is important as well. If your hot water previously had to travel a long way to reach the tap, your savings will be higher than if your faucets were closer to the water heater.

Choosing Your Hot Water Recirculating Pump System

When choosing your hot water recirculating pump, your first decision should be whether you would prefer a full recirculating system or a comfort control system. Your budget and the configuration of your home will be among the most important factors in this decision. If plumbers can easily gain access to your pipe system and you can afford to pay a bit more, a full recirculating system will give you the greatest benefit, without the drawback of warming up your cold water on the return. To save money, time, and hassle, a comfort system may be the better option for you.

Once you have selected the style of system you would like, your next step is to choose a sensor or timer to control it. If you don’t want to have to worry about programming your system, a sensor can do the job for you by monitoring the water temperature in your pipes. To maximize the efficiency of your system, though, you’ll want to have the greatest possible control over when your system operates. For this, you’ll need a timer.

Simple, mechanical timers are easy to install and even easier to set. However, you may be limited in how detailed you can get with your timing. If your schedule changes from one day to the next, an electronic timer will give you greater flexibility. You can typically program several scenarios to accommodate changes in your daily schedule, like from workdays to the weekend or if your schedule doesn’t follow the typical work week.

Other Considerations

It is also a good idea to insulate your hot water pipes, both heading to your faucets and back to the water heater. This will help to trap heat inside and prevent it from dissipating through the walls of the pipes over time. With proper insulation, the water will stay hotter for much longer, minimizing the number of times you have to run your pump throughout the day to keep hot water in the pipes at all times. This can result in major energy savings over time.

California is known for having hard water, and if you don’t have a water softener installed in your home, the minerals in the water can wreak havoc on your hot water recirculating pump. To help it last as long as possible, look for pumps made from stainless steel to minimize the risk of corrosion and prevent calcium deposits from forming.

You should also take note of the size of the inlets and outlets. As calcium deposits form in the pipes, they can narrow these openings over time. The larger the opening, the easier it will be for water to continue to flow through. Even with a bit of buildup, you’ll still have plenty of water coming through, maximizing the amount of time between maintenance services.

Learn More about Hot Water Recirculating Pumps

Here at Best San Diego Leak Detection, we are proud to include hot water services among our offerings. This includes installing, maintaining, and repairing water heaters and their associated accessories, like hot water recirculating pumps. We are experts at what we do and can help you narrow down your options to settle on the best recirculating pump to meet your needs and budget.

Our friendly associates are always happy to answer your questions, so don’t be shy about reaching out if there is anything you don’t fully understand. We’ll set you up with a free consultation appointment to discuss your needs and preferences in greater detail. Call now to get started.

July 16, 2019 Categories: