Investing in your aging infrastructure

FN99803-IMG04

Aging infrastructure is a growing concern for homeowners in North America and many communities took note of the problems facing not only city infrastructure, but homeowners as well.

While Canada is home to only 0.5% of the worlds population, it contains approximately 7% of the worlds renewable water supply according to Environment Canada. For Canadians, water and sewer lines that bring fresh water and remove waste are essential as Environment Canada identified Canada as one of the highest water uses per capita in the world. A pinhole leak in a water pipe can release thousands of gallons of clean water into the ground. In areas prone to excessive heat and droughts, water is a precious resource few can afford to waste. Additionally, a leaking sewer system can release thousands of gallons of ground pollution into the environment if left broken. People rely on these lines daily to bring fresh water and remove waste from their homes. Their continued functionality is essential to everyday life and maintaining the health and environment of all communities. 

Environment Canada estimates up to 30% of the total water entering supply-line systems is lost to leaking pipes.

While we can’t completely prevent failures to service lines, homeowners can protect their infrastructure with programs like Service Line Warranties of Canada’s warranty program.

For more information, please visit:

Environment Canada
http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&

Water Use
http://ec.gc.ca/eau-water/default.asp?lang=En&n=2AE761EC-1 

Water Wise
http://ec.gc.ca/eau-water/default.asp?lang=En&n=F25C70EC-1

Don’t send your money down the drain: Water conservation tips for the yard

iStock_000001738485XSmall MS muncipal benefits

Many people are familiar with water conservation efforts for the home. Did you know there are effective ways to conserve water in your yard and garden as well?

  • Planting a new lawn, tree or shrubs this summer? Consider drought-resistant plants, which require far less watering. The following sites offer great suggestions:
    Garden Guides, HouseLogic, Houzz, and Lifehacker.
  • Group plants together according to their watering needs and the slope descent of your yard, which will help retain water and reduce runoff.
  • Collect rain water in barrels to water your plants.
  • Don’t forget the mulch! Mulch slows evaporation and helps retain moisture while preventing weed growth.
  • Position sprinklers so the water lands in the lawn or garden – not on the sidewalk or road.
  • Only water when necessary. Step on the grass – if it springs up, you don’t need to water, but if it stays flat, the grass is thirsty.
  • Letting grass grow to three inches or taller promotes water retention in the soil.
  • Know how much water you need. Most lawns require a deep soak. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn when watering; when water reaches the top of the can, the lawn has been adequately watered.
  • Water early in the morning or later in the day to prevent fungus and to keep insects like slugs and other garden pests at bay.
  • Use a bucket of soapy water to wash your car and only rinse with the hose. This can save up to 150 gallons of water!
  • Don’t forget to check your outdoor hoses, pipes and faucets for leaks – just like inside.

For more information on water conservation, check out Environment Canada and Canadian Living.

Do I need a water or sewer line warranty?

Newspaper Headlines

It’s not uncommon to have homeowners tell us they don’t need a water or sewer line warranty because their lines haven’t broken and will never break. While we’ve uncovered this is far from the truth – many homeowners are unsure if they need a water or sewer line warranty. When evaluating whether or not to purchase a water or sewer line warranty, homeowners must first understand the coverage details. Warranties are not the same as insurance. While insurance typically covers damage to personal property as a result of service line failures, disasters and extreme circumstances (such as fire, flood, etc.), warranties focus on normal wear and tear – such as aging, ground shifting and tree root intrusion. Problems due to normal wear and tear with the sewer and water lines located outside the home are usually not covered under traditional homeowner’s insurance policies and could be very costly to replace or repair.

When considering whether or not to invest in a water or sewer line warranty, consider the following:

Age of the home
It’s common knowledge as products age, the failure rate increases. While newer homes with PVC pipes may be at lower risk than a 50-year-old home with clay pipes, the age of your home can help determine your need. As homes age, so does the infrastructure supplying water to and removing waste from them.

Types of pipes and length of lines
Do you know of what materials the water and sewer lines inside and outside of your home are made? Some materials are more prone to problems and have shorter life expectancies than others. Knowing what the lines are made of can help determine the level of risk. In addition, the longer the line, the greater the risk of failure and the higher the cost to replace them.

Weather
Weather conditions can affect a pipe’s life expectancy and conditions as they swell with changes in temperature and ground shifting. If the area in which you live is prone to heavy rainfall, droughts or extreme temperature changes – your infrastructure could be at risk.

Plants
The closer your water and sewer lines are to the ground’s surface and  plants and trees, the greater the chance of roots permeating the pipes. It only takes a small pinhole for a root to begin to infiltrate the line, which may result in a leak, clog or break.

Cost
What is the cost-benefit ratio? Should you pay a small monthly fee for the warranty or do you have enough in your emergency fund to pay for a repair that could cost from $1,300 to $3,500 or more?

Fine Print
Check out the Terms and Conditions of the warranty. Do they adequately cover your particular situation?

Company
Before buying any product, do your homework; research financial stability, outstanding consumer complaints, etc.

Time
One of the many benefits of participating in a maintenance or warranty program is the ability to make one call to solve the problem. If your service line breaks, consider the time invested in locating a qualified, local plumber and scheduling the visit, which may require taking time off from work and is disruptive to your daily routine.