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Trick-Or-Treat: Basement Plumbing Edition

Basement Plumbing

You greet your customer at the door with a friendly smile only to be met by a grim, panicked response. “The basement, it’s in the basement,” they stammer out. You can see a familiar look flicker in their eyes, you’ve seen it before. It’s fear.

They step aside to let you in, then slowly lead you to the basement door and turn to face you. They refuse to go any further and can only gesture with a shaky hand that they slowly raise towards the door. You smile reassuringly at them and grab your trusty flashlight. The door creaks open slowly, you take a deep breath and firmly plant your feet on the top, squeaky step. The homeowner quickly slams the door behind you as you click your flashlight on. Step by step you fight off spiderwebs as well as the feeling that something is wrong – terribly wrong.

Your eyes widen in fear, you move your mouth, but no words come out until you finally force a garbled scream through your throat. “The sewer line! It’s backed up!” You hear nothing but the shrieks of your customer echoing through the house.

While we may have embellished a little in honor of the upcoming Halloween season, that does not hide the facts. Basements are prone to some scary plumbing disasters and can be terrifying for your customers (and you too)!  These issues can make clogged toilets look like child’s play – see what we did there.

Basements can play host to some of the creepiest plumbing problems, many of which sneak up on a homeowner seemingly out of nowhere. Backed-up sewer lines, frozen pipes, clogged sump pumps, even spiderwebs!

Bone Chilling Bursts

Frozen pipes can plague countless areas because many homeowners do not have heated basements. Also, those winter power outages can spell disaster for your plumbing that is exposed to freezing temperatures. Even if you are in a warm area, a stray freeze can take a toll. Those pipes, especially in older construction homes, can burst when frozen; causing not only plumbing issues but also the potential for immense amounts of damage if not caught right away. To save the homeowner this major headache and expense, you might suggest replacing the pipes that are the most prone to freezing with PEX tubing.

While not foolproof, PEX is a lot more flexible than any other type of piping available. This will not prevent the water from freezing in the pipe, so the customer could still lose supply if the temperature drops far enough. But due to the forgiving nature of PEX tubing, it will mostly expand to accommodate the water as it freezes, leading to fewer pipes bursting and less worry about potential flooding incidents.

Dark Waters

Many residential and commercial buildings are constructed in areas that are prone to flooding or standing water. This can cause basements to be a catch-all for this water, as it is a low-lying area, and be a major inconvenience to your customer. The homeowner can lose valuable items to flooding even when they would not think that a storm would produce enough rain to cause such damage. In such areas, you should advise that your customers do not store items directly on the floor and should elevate them in some manner.

These homeowners would also benefit greatly from installing a Sump Pump . These pumps are installed in a low-lying area of the basement in a sump pit. With the help of sensors, the pump will determine when the pit begins to fill with water and automatically kick on. It will start pumping water out through pipes that are installed specifically to carry water out and away from the home, far enough from the foundation so that no damage is done to the property.

You should also advise that your customer regularly clean out the area around their sump pump. Failing to do so can cause the pump to not work properly, which can lead to the pump not being able to keep the basement clear of flooding issues in a relatively worry-free manner for your customer.

Out of the Black Lagoon

Backed-up sewer lines may be the scariest issue of all to come across in the homeowners’ basement. No one wants to experience the sight and smell, neither the homeowner nor you. In situations like these, the root cause needs to be identified by a professional, and you must advise that your customer does not try to take care of the issue themselves.

Many things can go wrong when dealing with backed-up sewer lines, and they can make the problem worse. If there is an issue with the public sewer being backed up, removing the wrong plug could inundate their basement with sewer water! This would be disastrous to your customer’s property, causing the area to become contaminated resulting in many items, like flooring and furniture, to become a total loss. This is, of course, one of the worst-case scenarios that could happen to your customer. Ensure that you educate your customer on what to-do should the situation arise.

Some sewer line issues can be relatively easy to diagnose. A common issue is a terrible smell emanating up into the basement from a floor drain. While this is not pleasant to deal with, it can be easy to fix. Since these drains rarely take in any water, the water barrier in the drain trap can dry out and allow sewer gasses to permeate up through the drain. This is an easy fix that can be taken care of by pouring clean water into the drain. It will fill in the trap and create the barrier which will keep that unpleasant smell at bay.

In any case, water in a basement is not good for the structure or for the occupants of that property. Apart from structural damage that water can cause, if not properly dried out, mold and mildew can form and cause a host of health issues which can lead to the home needing to have extensive and expensive mold remediation performed to ensure that the home is habitable. Wind Storm™ Air Movers make a great addition to your truck, when needing to address these kinds of issues.

Prevention

An easy way for your customers to avoid these scarily costly issues is scheduling regular drain cleaning services with you. This will greatly help in preventing many of these problems in the first place and could lead to earlier detection of any major potential issues. During this time, you can check the sewer house trap to ensure that it is still watertight. These traps can wear down over time, especially if your customer is susceptible to backflow issues, and catching this before it becomes a problem will save everyone time, money, and headaches.

If your customer is in a place that is prone to sewer back-ups, suggesting a Sewer Relief Valve be installed could certainly benefit them in the long run. These valves will help to keep contamination out of their property by releasing overflow outside of the property. This will save your customer from paying out large sums of money from damage caused by back-ups in the basement. Many insurance companies will not fully cover problems caused by sewer line back-ups which makes a bad situation even worse for your customer.

With your help, you can make the basement a less scary place for your customers. While you can’t really do anything about those spiderwebs and phantom footsteps, you can help the creepiest part of a home be filled with more treats than tricks this Halloween season with these solutions to shriek-inducing basement plumbing problems.

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