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Living in a rural area around Boerne, TX, instead of within the city itself, has many benefits. It’s quieter than the city because there aren’t as many people around and traffic is much lighter. Homes in rural locations tend to have more surrounding property than similar homes in the city. People choose to live in rural locations for many reasons, such as extra space for children to play or adding more pets to the family. The extra room is perfect for a large garden, and you can try raising your own chickens or other small farming ventures. Sometimes privacy is the deciding factor. Although rural life has plenty of advantages, it also involves certain plumbing concerns that may differ from urban areas. And having the number for a trustworthy plumber is a great idea!
Wells and Springs
If you’re considering a new home outside the city, you need assistance from a licensed professional plumber. The public water supply in San Antonio, TX, is regularly tested to make sure it doesn’t contain toxins or unsafe levels of impurities. Homeowners in the city don’t really need to worry about water quality. This isn’t always the case for rural homeowners. Some rural homes get water from wells or springs, and it’s up to the homeowner to make sure drinking water is safe. Your plumber can help you test the water supply before you buy the property. Some state and county health departments offer water testing, but most state-certified laboratories are qualified to test water samples. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, website has more information.
You’ll have several choices to make if the water is found to be unsafe. Sometimes a water filtration system can fix the problem, but this is only true for relatively mild contamination. The property may need a new well, which may be time-consuming and expensive. It’s important to make sure a new well will actually be helpful before investing time and money. If the groundwater around the property is contaminated, a new well won’t help.
Another concern is water quantity. This may not seem as urgent as water quality. It is true that contaminated drinking water is a much greater threat to your health than inadequate amounts of water, but it’s not pleasant to live day to day without enough water for normal, routine activities. Many of us don’t even think about having enough water for our daily tasks because it isn’t an issue in the city. Of course, no one wants to waste water or pay needlessly high water bills, but that isn’t the same issue. If we need the water, it’s available as soon as we turn on the tap. Water usage isn’t that simple with a well. Consult a plumber to help you estimate the amount of water your household uses on an average day. After establishing the required amount of water, you need to make sure that the well or spring is able to supply what you need. Remember to think about different seasons. Summer is usually the driest season in Boerne, TX, so it’s good news if the property’s well supplies enough water from May through September. A reliable well during the summer months is probably reliable throughout the year. The property may need a new well if you notice low water pressure or an insufficient water supply. Your plumber can help you evaluate these issues, but sometimes a water engineer is needed to evaluate the water supply. Plumbers aren’t water engineers, but they may work with water engineers or know a trustworthy engineer to recommend.
Residents and plumbers in Texas have to follow strict requirements for placing and building wells. Every well driller and pump installer in Texas has to be licensed and registered with the state. You need to submit a well drilling completion report before work on your new well begins. The state of Texas is divided into 16 groundwater management areas as part of the state’s groundwater management program. This legislation is designed to conserve and protect groundwater and prevent sinking ground that occurs when groundwater reservoirs are drained. Sometimes homeowners need special well permits in rural areas that are prone to drought. State regulations dictate how close wells can be to potential sources of contamination. Wellheads need to be at least 50-feet away from septic tanks, cisterns, and fouled or inoperative wells. You need at least 100-feet between your well and a septic drain field or leach bed. Wells should also be at least 150 feet from shelters or yards used by pets, livestock fields, and storage sites containing pesticides or fertilizer.
You should try to drill new wells in areas that aren’t vulnerable to flooding. Excess water during floods can wash surface contaminants into or outside of the well, which can pollute groundwater reservoirs.
Permit restrictions may limit the amount of water you can use or prohibit water use outside of certain activities. Severe restrictions can ban water use for anything other than household tasks. This means watering gardens or lawns would be prohibited while the restrictions are active. Your local plumber can help you find out if a permit is necessary and investigate relevant rules in your area. These restrictions can seem draconian, but municipal authorities can restrict water use in cities during drought conditions as well.
Homeowners in urban areas rely on sewer systems to dispose of waste from their homes. This system lets homeowners take responsibility for plumbing infrastructure inside their own homes and the connection to the main sewer line. Anything beyond the perimeter of a property is no longer the homeowner’s responsibility. Rural homeowners don’t have sewer systems to rely on. Private septic systems are the most common method of dealing with waste in rural areas. It’s very important to actively maintain septic systems. This is not an aspect of homeownership that can be overlooked or pushed aside to deal with other issues.
Modern septic tank systems usually include a buried tank made of fiberglass, plastic, or concrete. The tank holds wastewater from your home while solid waste products break down and accumulate at the bottom of the tank. Oil and grease form on top of the liquid in the tank. Liquid waste, or effluent, flows out of the tank into the drainage field. Drainage fields are large areas with underground gravel that help liquid soak into the soil. Aerobic bacteria in the soil breaks down compounds in wastewater so it can safely filter back into the groundwater.
A septic system needs sufficient capacity to handle household needs. The number of people in the home is the most important factor. A septic engineer can evaluate a property’s septic system and estimate how much waste it handles, as well as overall efficiency. Your local plumber can help you find a good septic engineer. Most plumbers are not septic engineers, but some plumbers choose to be educated and licensed in multiple fields. Some plumbing service providers may employ water or septic engineers as well.
Septic systems should be pumped on a regular basis to remove sludge and scum from the tank. Pumping frequency varies according to the size of the tank and the number of occupants in a household. The minimum frequency most households can get away with is every 3 to 4 years. Your plumber can recommend an optimal pumping schedule. Some people try to pump septic tanks themselves, but it really is a task best left to a plumber. Mistakes and incorrect pumping procedures can let untreated wastewater contaminate drinking water sources.
Don’t flush anything down the toilet except liquid and solid waste and toilet paper. Absolutely do not flush coffee grounds, cigarette butts, grease and fat, tissues, sanitary napkins, and any other items that can’t be broken down easily. Remember that every drain in your home is connected to the septic system. Washing hair, food scraps, dental floss, and other small items down the sink drain isn’t any different than flushing the same things down the toilet. They all end up in wastewater inside your septic tank. These items can clog drains as well. Call your plumber if you notice slow draining or foul odors that may indicate a clogged drain.
Many rural homes in Boerne, TX, have sump pumps to prevent flooding in basements. Sump pumps are very important appliances and you don’t want to be caught with a damaged, nonoperational sump pump when you need it. The average lifetime of these appliances is about 5 to 7 years, but some pumps last up to 30 years.
Watch for signs that your sump pump is close to a breakdown. A pump that runs constantly may be nearing the end of its functional lifespan. Call a plumber if you have concerns about your sump pump to find out if a simple repair can fix the issue. Low humming noises are normal during sump pump operation. Strange noises, such as squealing, grinding, or rattling, may be a sign of failing components. Call a plumber to address problems immediately so your basement doesn’t flood the next time it rains or snows.
Large rural properties may have long histories and multiple previous owners. Examining the property’s history is important because it can offer insight into potential environmental contamination. It’s very unusual to discover a previously unknown type of contamination on an urban property because acceptable uses of the property are limited. People can’t dump trash or chemical waste in their backyards, and a potentially hazardous business operation can’t pop up in a random basement. Properties in rural areas are not monitored as closely. Ask your plumber how to request an environmental assessment of a property to identify potential environmental contamination.
Agricultural chemicals, including fertilizers and pesticides, are some of the most common contaminants in Boerne, TX. Chemicals used on crops and soil end up resting on the ground’s surface. Rain washes chemical residue into porous soil and eventually transports contaminants into groundwater.
Septic waste is another common contaminant. A properly working septic system prevents harmful substances from entering the soil. Septic systems are also designed to release liquid slowly to avoid environmental damage. Unfortunately, poorly designed or maintained septic systems may let bacteria, viruses, household chemicals, and soap leak into soil and mix with groundwater. Water contaminated with wastewater isn’t safe to drink.
Landfills are designed with protective layers at the bottom to prevent waste from seeping into the ground. However, protective layers can wear out and crack. There’s no guarantee that anyone is paying enough attention to notice damaged bottom layers in time to prevent contamination. Landfill contamination may contain anything, although the most common chemicals include battery acid, oil, household cleaners, and medications. Landfills in Boerne, TX, are perfect for fungi and bacteria due to the warm, moist environment and abundant food sources.
Less common groundwater contaminants include hazardous waste such as radioactive material, electronic waste, and chemicals used by the military. Oil, minerals used in industry, and a variety of chemicals are frequently stored in tanks above or below ground. Storage tanks can erode and let harmful substances escape. These substances should not be present on residential properties, but contaminants can travel and may affect groundwater miles and miles away from the point of origin.
Even air pollution can contaminate groundwater. The hydrological cycle is the term referring to the movement of water above the ground, on the ground, and underground. Rain, and sometimes snow, captures pollutants and harmful gases in the air. Contaminants are carried into the ground along with rainwater and create polluted groundwater.
Consequences of contaminated groundwater include health problems ranging from diarrhea to cancer. Poisons in groundwater and soil can kill vegetation in the area, which has a cascade effect on local ecology. Contaminated soil may provide poor crop yields, and contaminants in groundwater can also seep into waterways and drastically reduce marine life. Plumbers may not be able to fix contaminants in groundwater on your property, but they can offer advice and help you find resources to address the issue.
Consult the experienced plumbers at bluefrog Plumbing & Drain of San Antonio. bluefrog is happy to help all residents of Boerne, TX, and surrounding areas with plumbing repairs or property inspections before buying a new home. Licensed and certified professionals handle everything from well and septic maintenance to water filtration systems and water supply management.