Four Common Issues You May Have with Your Water or Sewer, and How to Fix Them

a close up picture of a sink faucet with a water droplet fallingWater is a vital resource and an essential city service. We drink it; we bath in it; we cook and clean with it. And we know how frustrating it can be when such a vital resource is interrupted. That being said, there are a million reasons why you may temporarily be experiencing a change in water pressure or coloration. There may be a burst or leaking pipe. There may be maintenance work happening at the main facilities. Or it may be another issue altogether. 

If you’re experiencing any issues with your water or sewer services, the first thing you should always do is call 3-1-1 and file a report. The City responds to every call and will troubleshoot every incident for FREE before you even spend a dime on a plumber. On the 3-1-1 app, you can see every active report that has been made and track status updates. Once the City has received your report, you can expect a City worker out to your location the same day as long as it’s within working hours. 

It’s also extremely important to document each incident with 3-1-1 as it’s the city’s way of tracking the frequency of issues. If your neighbors or others in your area are having a similar problem, it’s easier to diagnose and will become a bigger priority if it affects a larger number of residents. 

Here are several common issues pertaining to your water and sewer and how to troubleshoot.

Low Water Pressure water droplet splashing in a pool of water

We get it. You walk up to your kitchen sink to rinse out that cereal bowl, and surprise! There is barely a trickle coming from the tap. A million questions may be flooding your mind (pun, intended). Before you call in the calvary, you can try troubleshooting the problem based on how widespread the issue is. If the low pressure is restricted to just one faucet or shower head, the fixture itself may be the culprit. Soaking it in household white vinegar will most likely fix the problem. If not, it might be time to replace the fixture. For sinks, you may also have a clogged aerator or cartridge. Don’t worry – this is an easy fix too! You can remove both using a pair of pliers and clean them with a mix of water and white vinegar to scrub away limescale buildup.

If the problem is happening throughout your home, you should check that your main shut-off valve isn’t partially closed. This valve is usually located underground in your front yard, but can also be in your garage, basement, or crawlspace. If there is a leak somewhere in your pipes, this will also cause low water pressure. 

Once you’ve checked all these possible scenarios, call 3-1-1 or log into the 3-1-1 app to report low water pressure at your location. A city worker will come out and determine whether the problem is on the city side or on your side. In the event that the water pressure is still something in your home, they’ll recommend contacting a plumber who should be able to identify and remedy the problem for you.

Discolored Water

Naturally occurring minerals (primarily iron and manganese) flowing with the water are typically to blame for water discoloration. These minerals, which are heavier than water, settle in water pipelines when water usage is low — especially during winter months. When the water flow and pressure through the water pipes increases again (due to irrigation, construction, etc.) the minerals are stirred up and flow out of your faucets when you turn on the tap. The City of Beaumont maintains routine water flushing schedules to minimize water discoloration by “flushing out” the system on a regular basis.

If discoloration occurs, run the cold water at one faucet for about 5 minutes, and you should see the water clear. (Running the hot water pulls from the water heater, which could make the problem worse.) If the water fails to clear after 5 minutes, call 311 to report the issue.

a picture of a storm drain in the roadStopped Sewer Line

If you suspect your sewer is backed up or a drain is clogged, contact the city via 3-1-1 to determine whether it’s a main line or a drain line. They’ll be able to tell you whether it’s on the city side or a fixture on your end and may even end up saving you the cost of calling out a plumber unnecessarily. 

There are things you can proactively do to avoid incidents, and as the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It’s easy to protect your pipes and your wallet by remembering a few handy homeowner tips like FOG (Fats, Oils, and Greases). These should never be flushed down the drain as they can accumulate and cause a blockage. Bart Bartkowiak also suggests disposing of as much food as you can in the trashcan because even garbage disposals can also become clogged. But the number one tip that we can give is to never flush anything down the toilet that is not toilet paper. Even wipes advertised as flushable can do some serious damage to your pipes!

Pipe Burst a rusted pipe with a break, water flowing from the break

If you notice any unusual water pooling in your yard, on your street, or even in your home, it may be a burst pipe. The first thing you should do is turn off the water supply to your home, so no more damage is done. 

Then, call 3-1-1 to report a pipe burst. City crews will usually be out within an hour to address the problem. If the leak stems from your home, they will let you know to call a plumber as soon as possible. 

These problems are common in any household, region or municipality, and can be remediated fairly quickly. We cannot stress the importance of filing a report with 3-1-1, so the city has a record of the incident. The more accurate the information, the better and faster the City is able to manage and address your issue!