1.

WAS YOUR SEATTLE HOME BUILT BEFORE 1970?

seattle sewer pipe

You may have concrete or clay pipes above or below ground that are prone to breaking down and causing leaks or clogs.

How big of an issue is this?

Clay and concrete pipes are no longer used for new sewer lines in the Seattle area. PVC is the most commonly used type of sewer pipe and fittings for new sewer line installs, and repairs of old concrete and clay sewer lines. There are also trenchless systems more commonly used today to replace or reline old existing concrete and clay sewer lines, without the need for full line excavation.
 

What are the rules around this?

While clay pipes and fittings are not allowed to be used above ground, they are still allowed to be used under the Seattle code as long as they are 12 inches or deeper underground (Item 701.2.), hence why there has not been a mass replacement across the city of these pipes in homes. While they may meet the minimum standard, we would recommend having a plumber install stronger materials to replace or supplement pipes to prevent future issues.
 

What can I do?

If your home does have concrete or clay pipes, there are two solutions: using a trenchless liner system to restore your existing concrete or clay sewer line back to a service life of 50 years or more, or full line replacement. The trenchless solution is far more convenient and cost effective if the existing concrete or clay pipes are still in good enough condition to be lined. The only way to determine the condition of your sewer line is to have a video inspection done, which our company can easily do for you. If you have more questions about the condition of your sewer line, please give Trusted Plumbing & Heating a call at 206-231-5008.

Pre 1970s Pipes

Older pipes made of clay or concrete are prone to failing after decades of use. These pipes may already be leaking or clogging.

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PVC Liners for Old Pipes

Depending on the condition of your older clay or concrete pipes, you may be able to have a plumber line them with PVC rather than having to replace them.

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Modern Pipes

If your older pipes are in very bad shape, it may be too late to use PVC liners and full replacements may be required. Modern pipes will last much longer.

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2.

ARE YOU READY FOR A BAD WINTER?

seattle frozen pipe

Seattle homes are not always properly equipped to deal with extremely cold weather, depending on their age and construction.

How big of an issue is this?

While homes in regions that always have cold, snowy winters are usually well equipped and insulated to protect plumbing, here in Washington it's not the norm to have to worry about freezing pipes. While this may not be an issue during normal Seattle winters, an extra cold winter may cause your pipes to freeze and leak, which can cause irreparable damage. We recommend being extra careful and prepping your house if the weather drops below typical levels.

 

What are the rules around this?

Item 603.4.7 in the Seattle plumbing code states that in "cold climate areas", backflow assemblies and devices have to be protected with an outdoor enclosure. However, this and other rules about "cold climate areas" don't apply to the majority of homes in Seattle since the climate is typically so moderate. Rather than having to follow very stringent rules about making sure pipes don't freeze, we and Seattle.gov simply recommend some basic steps to follow in an extra cold winter season that should prevent any freezing problems.

What can I do?

Seattle.gov has a great guide for keeping pipes from freezing in a bad winter. These prevention options include keeping your thermostat above 55 degrees to keep the temperature above freezing, shutting off the water for outside faucets of your home before the cold weather rolls in, and wrapping exposed pipes in tape and insulating materials. There are several other tips to follow as well in this article that we would recommend. Trusted Plumbing & Heating can help with both your pipes and your HVAC systems, so if you are worried about your pipes freezing in the future please call (206) 231-5008 or consult other certified plumbers & HVAC companies.

Frozen Pipes

If pipes are not properly insulated and vented, extreme cold weather can cause them to freeze. This can cause leaks in your plumbing.

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Thermostat

Keeping your thermostat running at 55 degrees throughout cold weather should keep pipes from freezing up.

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Circulation

Proper ventilation is important as well for keeping pipes from freezing up. Newer homes are built with this in mind but older ones may not be.

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3.

WHAT IF AN EARTHQUAKE STRIKES?

Your water heater may not be properly strapped to prevent damage or movement in the event of an earthquake.

How big of an issue is this?

Like the rest of King County and much of the West Coast, Seattle is located in an area of the United States that sometimes has earthquakes and other seismic events. Mt. Rainier is also close by, and while the mini earthquakes that happen frequently around the mountain only affect a small 3 mile radius around it, the fault in the Western Rainier Seismic Zone (WRSZ) that is close to the mountain has caused notable earthquakes in the past as noted at USGS.gov, as recently as 2006. Because earthquakes could happen at any time in the future, it’s important to make sure that your water heater and other large appliances are properly secured. Most property damage during an earthquake is caused by fire due to ruptured gas lines, and a falling water heater will make the damage even worse.
 

What are the rules around this?

Item 507.2, which was new for 2015 in the Seattle Plumbing Code states that water heaters must be properly strapped to resist horizontal displacement in the event of an earthquake. This rule ensures that water heaters will be less likely to be damaged by seismic activity, and also helps with overall home safety so no one will be injured and no property damage will be done by a falling water heater.
 

What can I do?

While proper earthquake strapping is the current standard for new water heater installations, we recommend checking how your heater is secured and if it needs to be remounted or replaced entirely. We also would recommend ensuring that other large appliances in your home are screwed into the wall or mounted correctly as they may be vulnerable to tipping or being damaged as well. Trusted Plumbing & Heating can help you make sure that your water heater is safe in the event of an earthquake, and diagnose and repair other issues it may have as well. You can call (206)-231-5008 to get more information about our services and what your water heater may need, or consult other plumbers who work on water heaters as well.

Falling Hazard

While your water heater would potentially be damaged by a fall, it could cause even more problems if it falls on another home item or injures someone.

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Anchoring to Wall

There are a few different ways to secure your water heater's earthquake straps. One method is using wall screws or anchors.

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Straps & Mounting

Water heaters need to be strapped to the wall with earthquake straps, as per the Seattle plumbing code.

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4.

WHAT IF YOUR SEWER CLOGS OR FAILS?

seattle trenchless sewer repair

Trenchless sewer repair may be a faster and cheaper solution than a full trench excavation.

How big of an issue is this?

While occasionally sewer line issues may require a full trench excavation, more often than not these days with modern technologies such as liners mentioned in our #1 issue, trenchless is the best option. Sewer lining may be a more cost effective solution to repairing your sewer line, with less disruption to your landscaping and service to your home saving you money. Modern technologies including the pipe liners mentioned in our #1 issue, intentional pipe bursting and replacement, or spray lining and brush coating may be more than sufficient for the repairs needed and take far less time and money, because you don’t have to dig up the entire pipe.
 

What are the rules around this?

As Item 314.3 in the Seattle plumbing codes notes, if an excavation is required to repair a building’s drainage system or pipes, the trenches must be opened and kept open until full testing, inspection and acceptance of the piping has gone through. This is to ensure that the repair is up to standards and is of quality, but the drawback of course is that this process can take days and be incredibly expensive and inconvenient.
 

What can I do?

While trenchless sewer repairs are often a good alternative to full line excavation, a video inspection of the line must be done first to determine the condition of the line and the most cost effective solution for repairs. We recommend calling Trusted Plumbing & Heating to do a site visit of your home to diagnose the sewer line, and provide the best options for your home.

 

Trenchless

Trenchless sewer options are far more cost effective and convenient, but a plumber will need to help you determine if that's an option.

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Trench Dig

If trenchless sewer repair is not a viable option, your plumber will need to dig up the pipes entirely in order to ensure that everything is repaired correctly.

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Sewer Repair

Some preventive maintenance can go along way to preventing costly repairs later. We recommend having a plumber inspect your sewer and advise you.

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5.

IS YOUR HOME BUILT IN A LOW AREA OR NEAR A BODY OF WATER?

seattle plumbing flood

It’s important to ensure that in the event of a flood, your home is ready.

How big of an issue is this?

If your home is not in or near a designated Flood Hazard Area in Seattle, there may be no issue at all. However, if your home is near a large body of water, on the bay or at a low elevation there is always a chance that your home could be flooded due to a large storm or tsunami if that were to occur.
There is always the possibility of an underground sewer issue causing flooding as well, if you do not have proper backwater prevention devices in place.
 

What are the rules around this?

Item 301.4 states that any home in a Flood Hazard area must have plumbing systems that are located above either the required elevation in the local codes, or above the lowest floor of the building. While this should be the case in most modern homes if you are located in a Flood Hazard Zone, older homes that are just outside of a designated zone may not be set up this way and may have old valves or backwater prevention devices that can’t withstand a flood or intense storm.
 

What can I do?

If you aren’t sure if you’re near or in a Flood Hazard Zone, you should be able to easily find out by visiting ecology.wa.gov and checking if your home is near or in a floodplain area. However, chances are you already know whether or not your home is in one of these zones. We recommend calling a reputable plumber to visit and evaluate if your home needs any new valves or backwater prevention devices, and otherwise is ready in the event of a flood. A plumbing company can provide valuable services updating your home and making it safe. We’d also recommend looking into flood insurance, as typical homeowner’s insurance will not cover flooding damage.
 

Flood Hazard Zone

 
You will most likely already know if your home is in a Flood Hazard zone, but if you aren't sure look up your neighborhood onkingcounty.gov.

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Valves

Modern valves can help with preventing overflow if a water pipe in your home fails. You can also shut them off in an emerrgency.

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Backwater Prevention

 
Backwater valves are a special type that prevents dirty water from your sewer coming back up. This can help if the city main backs up.

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