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3 Things That Affect the Health of Water Lines

A home's water lines link its plumbing system to the municipal water supply, allowing clean water to enter and wastewater to exit. As time goes on, however, the supply and sewer lines may fall prey to cracks and other serious problems. Wise homeowners avoid such issues by having their water lines regularly inspected and maintained by a professional plumber.
Another important strategy involves educating yourself about the health of your water lines. If you would like to improve your knowledge of residential plumbing systems, read on. This article will outline three key factors that play into the health of your home's water lines.
1. Age
The age of your pipes represents perhaps the single most important factor determining their continued performance. A surprising amount of residential water lines consist of pipes that were laid back in the middle of the 20th century. At that time, cast iron was the most widely used pipe material.
Unfortunately, cast iron pipes tend to develop corrosion as time goes on. In fact, studies have determined that corrosion accounts for 75 percent of all water main breaks. While a number of factors play in to the rate at which corrosion accumulates, age tends to be one of the best predictors. Generally speaking, the older your water lines, the more likely they are to suffer from critical levels of corrosion.
Be sure to research the age of the water lines connecting your home to your city's water system. The average water main fails after approximately 47 years. Knowing the age of your pipes will allow you and your plumber to stave off serious problems. Those who don't know the age of their water lines put themselves at risk of sudden - and costly - forms of damage.
2. Trees
Most water lines run beneath the front lawn of a house. There, they often share the soil with the roots of neighboring trees. Such tree roots are a frequent source of damage. Should a root grow too close to a water main, it can exert a tremendous amount of pressure against the pipe's sidewall. This often results in cracks, obstructions, and other serious issues.
Certain types of trees have a reputation for causing more problems than others. Species with especially fast-growing or disruptive root systems include all of the following:
  • Aspen
  • Birch
  • Elm
  • Fig
  • Oak
  • Sycamore
  • Willow
Take note if your yard contains any of these trees. Try to obtain a map of the precise location of your water mains. This will allow you to determine exactly how close such problem trees lie to your pipes.
3. Soil Type
As noted above, metal water lines often fall prey to holes and cracks caused by corrosion. Many people imagine that such corrosion occurs mainly from within the pipe, where water flows. Yet a surprising amount of corrosion affects pipes from the outside, especially for those who live in areas with a higher percentage of corrosive-soil.
Corrosive soil contains chemical substances that react much more readily with metallic pipes. Key factors include the pH level of the soil. The lower the pH level, the more readily pipes will corrode. Other important factors include the soil's chloride content, its degree of electrical resistivity, and its level of sulfate ions.
Unless proper measures are taken, corrosive soil can lead to drastically premature water line failure. For that reason, homeowners should strongly consider having their yard's soil tested for corrosivity. Knowing the characteristics of your soil will allow you and your plumber to formulate strategies for protecting your water lines.
For more information about protecting your water lines from corrosion and other common problems, please don't hesitate to contact the pros at Peter Piper's Plumbing and Drain Cleaning Service.

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